Republicans are on pins and needles as the Iowa caucuses draw near. They want the 2012 election to focus on President Obama and his record. They think that if the election is about unemployment and the recession that won’t end, they’ll win.
This strategy presupposes the Republicans pick a reasonable candidate. If they nominate somebody who seems like a nut, the focus will shift from familiar stories about the crappy economy to novel stories about the Republican’s nutty positions. If that happens, President Obama’s chances of re-election increase dramatically.
Most people put Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann in the “nut” category. The challenge for Newt Gingrich is to stay out of that category — but his comments about the federal judiciary aren’t helping.
Gingrich has railed against activist judges, has talked about abolishing entire courts to try to rein in the judiciary, and has even discussed sending marshals to arrest judges and bring them to testify before congressional committees. His point seems to be that the federal judiciary is too powerful and the other two branches of government need to rein in the judges. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with that point, the notion of eliminating courts and haling judges before Congress is too nutty for most Americans. It runs counter to notions of separation of powers, and respect for equal branches of government, that most Americans hold dear. It also raises the specter of a President who might disastrously overreact in a moment of crisis.
I’m not surprised that Gingrich’s meteoric rise in the polls seems to be reversing itself. He talks a lot — and often he seems to talk without really thinking things through. When he does, he sounds like . . . a nut.