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article imageOp-Ed: Newtering the Campaign Trail

By Brian LaSorsa     Feb 7, 2012 in Politics
Newt Gingrich is certainly a successful politician—not one of the best compliments I'd ever give to a person. He’s one of those people whose speeches are filled with beautiful words saying nothing.
Plus his policies are the antithesis of the founding fathers’ principles he purports to admire, so naturally the Republican Party and its beloved followers have taken a liking to him.
The first few GOP debates had focused on Romney and Perry. The teenage lovers continued flirting about illegal immigrants cutting each others’ lawns, and it made for fantastic television. Then the real questions came up; Romney began to sound like George W. Bush, Perry couldn’t remember what the hell he wanted to say, and suddenly we had a four-way tie.
Gingrich and Paul had entered the playing field, one with nonsensical thoughts backed by eloquence and the other with intelligent ideas backed by feebleness. Both have spent increased time in the limelight ever since, great news after CBS gave Paul a meager 90 seconds to speak at the South Carolina debate.
A heated battle ensued between the two candidates when moderators introduced the Patriot Act into the discussion. Paul, a strict Constitutionalist treading the libertarian line at many points in his career, dismissed the legislation as unconstitutional and added that we “can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights.”
Gingrich strongly disagreed, and this is where we begin. Only eight years ago, the former Speaker was weary of government surveillance.
He wrote, in an op-ed piece for the San Francisco Chronicle:
In our battle against those that detest our free and prosperous society, we cannot sacrifice any of the pillars our nation stands upon, namely respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. […]
I strongly believe Congress must act now to rein in the Patriot Act, limit its use to national security concerns and prevent it from developing “mission creep” into areas outside of national security.
Flip-flopping is nearly a required trait on political CVs, and Gingrich accurately hits the targets. In a liberal state, he supports civil liberties. In front of a Republican audience, he supports aggressive defense. Nice aiming, Newt!
This national security stance took a controversial swing about seven months before the 2008 presidential election. When asked what he attributed to the fact that the US hadn’t been attacked since 9/11, Gingrich casually answered that government surveillance had worked, perhaps too well. He said to the group,
…the better they’ve done at making sure there isn’t an attack, the easier it is to say, “Well, there was never going to be an attack anyway.” It’s almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us. […]
I would divide the FBI into two agencies. I would have an anti-domestic crime FBI that was very cautious, very respectful of civil liberties; you are innocent until proven guilty. And I would have a small but very aggressive anti-terrorism agency. And I would frankly give them extraordinary ability to eavesdrop.
Gingrich is always hawkish when it comes to war, and this mentality has continued in the 2012 presidential race. Since Barack Obama is busy with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Uganda, the next obvious target for US military occupation is Iran. None of these countries—not a single one—can hurt us, but that doesn’t really matter if politicians can convince us that they’re a serious threat.
Newt first supported Obama’s handling of Libya, though. In March earlier this year, he said, “This is a moment to get rid of [Gadhafi]. Do it. Get it over with.” A little over two weeks later, a different story: “I would not have intervened. […] I would not have used American and European forces.”
His anger was directed at a new a country.
At a recent foreign policy debate, Gingrich expressed support for potentially bombing Iran’s facilities if it would prevent the country from acquiring a nuclear weapon and progress towards regime change (as if the effects of US involvement in Mosaddegh’s 1953 removal weren’t detrimental enough).
Even if these measures were in any way reasonable, what the hell is the point in “taking out their scientists” through a covert operation if he’s going to openly announce this intention to the entire world in the middle of a debate? Won’t this now implicate the US in the case of any unsolved attacks against Iran?
Nonetheless the subtle yearning to be “respectful of civil liberties” isn’t even true. God forbid an individual does something as innocent as inhale a little smoke from a Cannabis plant. Newt promises to bring down the government’s dense hammer to crush that joint.
Having previously introduced a bill in 1981 that would have legalized medical marijuana, Gingrich quickly flip-flopped on the topic. Only 15 years passed before he introduced a new bill entitled the “Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996.” Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like it means.
He summarized this opinion about US drug policy at a 1995 RNC convention: “You import commercial quantities of drugs in the United States for the purpose of destroying our children, we will kill you.”
I know what you’re thinking. Hey, maybe these pent-up aggressions are the result of a bad batch of weed he admitted to smoking in the 1960s. Maybe he was having a bad day and he didn’t mean these things.
Not a chance. If he were having a bad day, it must have been a really bad day because it’s lasted until this election cycle.
In an interview earlier this year, Bill O’Reilly optimistically discussed Singapore’s method of dealing with drug dealers via hanging execution. Gingrich responded, “I think it's time we get the stomach for that, Bill, and I think we need a program. I would dramatically expand testing.” For the record—to give you a little taste of Singapore’s capability to reason—the country also has a chewing gum ban in place.
He completed his rant by blaming drug users for funding criminal operations in the Middle East and South America, as if the organizations’ very existences weren’t by-products of substance prohibition in the first place.
What turned Gingrich away from his pro-medical marijuana position in the 1980s to an electric chair-hungry maniac? He said it was about meeting with parents “who said they did not want their children to get the signal from the government that it was acceptable behavior.”
…children shouldn’t be looking to the government for signals on how to be independent, self-respecting individuals. That’s why we have families.
And who better to represent the family than Newt? Refreshingly stated by Rand Paul at the 2011 Congressional Correspondents’ Dinner, Gingrich may really have more political positions than he’s had wives. The twice-divorced, affair-prone politician continually speaks out against the evils of gay marriage, and recently explained to ABC News,
I think we are drifting towards a terrible muddle which I think is going to be very, very difficult and painful to work our way out of. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I think that’s what marriage ought to be and I would like to find ways to defend that view as legitimately and effectively as possible.
Don’t get me wrong—as a straight male, I want to see two guys doing it like I want to see the new Twilight movie, but the normal human reaction to these things is to get the hell over it. America is about doing whatever you need to do in order to be happy so long as you don’t hurt anyone else, and only candidate promoting this view is Ron Paul: “The definition of marriage is what divides so many. Why not tolerate everybody's definition as long as neither side uses force to impose its views on the other?”
It’s surprising they even let him into the debate rooms with such seemingly regular answers. And it was only a little over a decade ago that Gingrich campaigned against the Texan Congressman’s re-election.
When Ron Paul returned to politics during the Republican Revolution’s echo, and he assumed that his constitutional ideals would be happily welcomed. They weren’t.
Instead, Gingrich abandoned small government in order to lead a fierce crusade against Ron Paul by supporting his opponent Greg McLaughlin, an opportunist who switched over from Democratic Party less than one year earlier.
Ron Paul won the race, and has been re-elected to the House ever since. So, when Newt tries to convince you that he’s an opponent of government growth, don’t believe a thing he’s saying. In fact, Ron Paul’s campaign released videos attacking Gingrich’s “serial hypocrisy,” specifically in terms of his relationship “selling access” as a federal lobbyist.
Newt’s perpetual fascination with ethanol is expected. Well-connected companies (i.e. Archer Daniels Midland) have long sought direct subsidies from the US government coupled with strict tariffs against foreign competition, and these far-reaching deals included an astounding $312,500 paid to Gingrich’s consulting firm merely to “speak positively on ethanol related topics to media.”
Suddenly his pro-carbon caps stance makes sense. The industry would profit immensely from a cap-and-trade plan—and the inevitable strengthening of current domestic mandates—because ethanol would be seen as the cheap, clean alternative. And Big Corn isn’t his only unethical link to the lobbying sphere.
Contrasting with Gingrich’s previous statements about Freddie Mac’s role in the mortgage crisis, he earned $1.6 million to $1.8 million through phony consulting deals with the government organization over a decade-long stint. Two of these years consisted of $300,000 salaries for being a “historian.”
Then again, these statistics are nothing next to the $37 million received by Gingrich’s healthcare consulting group, which promises members things like “access to Newt Gingrich” and “direct Newt interaction.” Creepy, if you ask me.
And why would insurance firms and pharmaceutical companies support Gingrich? Well, because he likes to lobby in favor of consumer mandates and prescription drug programs.
Prescription drug programs promise that the government will replace individuals as the consumer in the market and therefore, with its endless wallet, will be willing to pay any price demanded by suppliers. Mandates, on the other hand, are simple—they’re fully-enforced increases in demand, once again raising prices for suppliers.
In a 1993 interview with “Meet the Press”, Newt said, “I am for people, individuals […] having health insurance and being required to have health insurance.” Almost 20 years later, on the same exact show, he repeated this opinion: “I believe all of us have a responsibility to help pay for healthcare.” One day later he released a new campaign clarification: “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals.”
It’s times like these when I really enjoy the political parade.
With all of these discrete gifts to big business, Newt’s support for TARP was nearly a necessity. Why would you give someone a present without wrapping it in a pretty bow?
The 2008 election cycle hit a climax when the TARP legislation was introduced, held up by fear mongers as a solution to the Federal Reserve-induced bursting of the housing bubble. In a usual attempt to seem like a small government conservative, Gingrich said to ABC News, “I don’t know how [McCain] can vote for this and with a straight face go around and say that he’s for real change and he’s the reform candidate.”
And only five days later: “Sure, look, something has to be done. [...] I suspect were I still in Congress, in the end George [Will] is right, and I probably would end up voting reluctantly ‘yes.’”
…um, what?
Whether he’s sharing a couch with “Princess Nancy” or aiding in the establishment of our failing public education system—the same one, by the way, that was created to stamp out foreign cultures—Newt’s affinity for big government is an endless tunnel. The fact that he may consider voting for Obama over Ron Paul tells us everything we need to know about his priorities next to small government. Please, do not for one second get the feeling that Gingrich cares about the United States remaining a truly free country.
People will eventually realize these things. This sudden popularity increase in the polls will dwindle down to where it should be, and voters will no doubt run away from Newt quicker than his senior staff ran away from his campaign.
“[Newt Gingrich] is done. He didn't have a big chance from the beginning, but now it’s over.” – Charles Krauthammer
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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