DougJ – I can’t speak for Conor. We tend to disagree as much as we agree on anything. In any case, as far as Newt Gingrich is concerned I find him neither a candidate with a very good chance at winning, or someone who I’d be comfortable having in the Oval Office. It’s not his pandering over the Ground Zero Mosque that bothers me so much (though it does); or his rather laughable attempts to paint the Obama administration as a ‘secular-socialist machine’ and to repeat that phrase as often as he can; but rather his devotion to the warfare state which keeps me up nights imagining his presidency. Actually, that keeps me up nights when I imagine any number of candidates, from Hillary Clinton to Sarah Palin to our very own Barack Obama whose own devotion to the war in Afghanistan (or is it an Overseas Contingency Operation?) will likely be one of the great tragedies of his legacy.
I’m more of a Gary Johnson guy myself. I like Mitch Daniels, too, but I haven’t been paying close enough attention to his foreign policy to say for sure. I’d vote for Johnson over any other candidate out there.
I think some conservatives view Gingrich as a guy who knows what he’s doing – a policy expert, someone who can navigate Washington, beat the Democrats at their own games, etc. I think he’s a pretty standard, boiler-plate Big Government Conservative more interested in playing war than making government work effectively. The mosque business simply confirms this. But I think at one point a lot of conservatives viewed him as the moderate, rational, wonkish leader they’d like to have instead of say, Sarah Palin. That the two are becoming more and more indistinguishable is hardly surprising, but it certainly speaks to his character.