- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

There is a grisly pallor that has beset former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. When he walks into a room, I feel rather sorry for him, but then I feel rather sorry for Bill Clinton, too, and for Hillary. No longer do I call her “Bill’s lovely wife, Bruno.” She looks grandmotherly rather than tough. I guess maybe her coeval from the 1960s generation of student government goody-goodies, Newt, looks grandfatherly rather than brainy. What does Al Gore look like these days, and Jean-Francois Kerry? They all quite abruptly assumed old age.

Yet Newt did it on the field of battle. I suppose I should compliment him for that; he is running once again for high office, the presidency. Yet there is something manic about his presence in the presidential field. He is reduced to saying that he has been counted out so many times that it is just a matter of time before he wins the presidential nomination. Can anyone other than Newt follow that line of reasoning? I suppose it is a variation on his co-generationist Bill Clinton’s claim that he is the Comeback Kid. Yet Newt is not a kid, and he is not coming back.

This week, the editors of National Review called upon Newt to quit the race. I second the motion. A couple of weeks ago, Newt called for Rick Santorum, he having only one win in his column, to give up. Now Mr. Santorum has four wins and Newt is stuck with his one forlorn victory an increasingly long time ago. It is time for Newt to throw his weight behind Mr. Santorum or Mitt Romney. It is time for him to retire from the race and go on to become the greatest futurologist in America, possibly in the known world. The present is no place for him. He has displayed his judgment repeatedly, and it is deficient. He also has displayed his art for the one-liner, and it is destructive, destructive of other Republicans in the race. He began his race for the presidency with a flourish of his ostentatious braininess that hurt Rep. Paul Ryan, a real Republican leader. He has gone on to endanger Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney. It is time for him to go.

National Review asks whether he “remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride.” Those of us who grew up with the 1960s generation recognize that both are true. He thinks he could be the nominee and, indeed, the president, and he wants to avenge his pride. In any event, he should quit now. He already has done enough damage. All his one-liners are being studied by President Obama’s staff and will be deployed soon against the Republican nominee.

The only good that has come from Newt’s campaign is that Mr. Santorum and Mr. Romney are getting some practice in parrying Newt’s anti-capitalist one-liners. They will be better campaigners against Mr. Obama because of Newt.

I suggest that both candidates agree that they are unrepentant proponents of free-market economics. In other words, they side with about 70 percent of the American people. We gave Mr. Obama his chance to get the economy back on the path to growth, and he blew it. Worse, he saddled the country with a burden that it will take years to relieve. The community organizer in the White House brought down on America four straight years of deficits, and they were hardly normal deficits. They were all above $1.29 trillion. He initiated an unprecedented four years of federal spending at more than 24 percent of gross domestic product. Now he wants to tax the top 2 percent of income earners to balance the budget somewhere down the road. Does anyone believe the remaining 98 percent of Americans are not going to be hit by Mr. Obama’s taxes and very soon? We are headed toward Greece.

This is not the road to growth. It is the “Road to Serfdom,” as the great economist F.A. Hayek warned. This presidential campaign should be waged on the topic of Mr. Obama’s last four budgets and the onerous burden of ever paying for them.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson).