Roger L. Simon

Why We Need the Gingrich-Obama Debates

Whatever comes to pass in this election season — whatever scandals emerge, gaffes are gaffed, turns twisted, figures fudged, wars waged, etc. — what I would I most like to see, even if I don’t get to, is the Gingrich-Obama debates.

Conventional modern liberalism (leftism, Keynesian economics, etc.) is dead in our country, indeed in the world, and yet a sizable portion of the populace clings to it. Like a massive cargo cult waiting for John Frum, these people cleave to an ideology that has been useless for years and is self-destructive even to them, most of them anyway, undermining the lives of the rest of us in the process.

Newt Gingrich is the only person I can think of with the rhetorical skills to explain this in a manner in which at least some of these same people, perhaps even enough of them, would understand the situation and change. He could do so in debate with Barack Obama — those Lincoln-Douglas style debates he so assiduously seeks.

Whatever his personal faults — and there are obviously a few — Gingrich is the only public figure in memory with this ability. He is a better debater than any politician in my lifetime, which means, all things considered, that he is a clearer thinker, especially in this kind of forum.

These debates would be epochal because it would be the first time in generations that the underlying competing theories of government would really be discussed and studied for the public consumption of a national audience. All the debates I can remember — and I have seen most of them since Nixon-Kennedy — have been relatively small in their compass, focusing on the issues of the day. This time the founding philosophies of our country would also be explored by an historian and placed in a present day context for review and consideration. It’s high time we did that.

And what could Obama say? His approach to government, to the extent that he has one beyond puerile generalities of hope and change, is a form of European socialism. The current disarray of that system could not be more apparent. Socialism, in fact, has a record of catastrophe, leading not only to economic despair, but to mass murder.

Nevertheless, it continues. The debates this year will present an opportunity to expose that, but only if they are conducted on a sufficiently high level with the spokesman on our side capable of taking on a media who cling, far more fiercely than the public, to this shopworn and venal ideology. Gingrich is the only one who can do that, I regret to say.

He is not a perfect man. The natural rejoinder to that is “who is?” But it is worse than that. Newt Gingrich may be more flawed than most of us. And yet, I believe, at this moment he is our man. He is the one best positioned to educate a public that for years now has been brainwashed by our reactionary-progressive educational system and media to such an extreme degree that many can no longer see and understand the most obvious facts.

We are at a crisis point in our culture. We need a teaching moment as well as a new president. Newt Gingrich, at his best, is a superb professor — witty, erudite, and on point. And my guess is he would be at his best against Barack Obama. Bring it on.