So how is calling the Bush's war on terror "phony" any different than John Edwards deriding the war on terror as "a bumper sticker war"?
Newt Gingrich is shrewd.
He is fiscally brilliant, and he articulates his policies well.
He is also politically sharp.
His recent comments regarding his fellow Republicans and Bush in particular are nothing if not sly.
His "trained seals" barb pointed at the Republican presidential candidates was a marvel of efficiency in the way of non-binding ridicule.
He counted on his remarks being taken somewhat out of context, and was able to calmly point out that he was not, in fact, technically referring to the candidates as trained seals, but was rather offering a commentary on the political process. Left explicitly unspoken but impressed upon the minds of his listeners is his contempt for candidates who would allow themselves to be treated like trained seals.
He has been ratcheting up the rhetoric on the war on terror, on Alberto Gonzales, on the political impotency of the Republican controlled White House, House, and Senate of 2001-2006, (neglecting to comment on his capitulation to Clinton in the budget battle showdown of the Clinton) in a largely successful, I think, attempt to jazz up his image in the mind of potential voters, should he "have to run."
I have never seen a man running harder for president who is not running for president.
And that is another part of his strategy.
Timing is everything.
While the conventional wisdom is jump in early and ride out the storm, he is, somewhat like the other non-candidate, Fred Thompson, busy creating an image of himself and a perception of the other candidates, poor, well-meaning saps, and just biding his time.
He is watching the atmospheric conditions brew and waiting for the perfect storm.
His early-on interview with James Dobson in which he knew the blunt Dobson would confront him with his extra-marital affair was another master preemptive strike.
He was able to come off as contrite, fully aware of the pain he'd caused and even courageous for baring his soul to evangelicals.
A lesson learned, and we are expected to forget that he carried on an affair with a young intern while his wife was in the hospital for cancer treatment.
God will most certainly forgive, but, personally, I would like to see a little more shame-facedness from the man, whom I view as nothing but a political hack; a very smart political hack, somewhere in the moral vicinity as Dick Morris.
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