Newt isn't Conservative? When he led the most successful revolt against Washington in a century?
Don't make me laugh.
Now, I don't mean to pick on Chris, a good man and the author of one this blog's most popular posts (Conditioning Americans to Accept the Unacceptable). His assumption of Newt Gingrich's conservative bona fides simply gives us a useful starting point.
What does "Rockefeller Republican" mean?
Ever since the four-term phenomenon of Franklin D. Roosevelt, two very different factions have wrestled for control of the Republican Party. On the one hand are the grassroots Republicans, Main Street Americans, who labor in the precincts to elect candidates they hope will be faithful after election.
On the other hand are the powerful people who fancy themselves as kingmakers, the wheelers and dealers of the proverbial smoke- filled rooms, also known as the New York or Wall Street or eastern liberal establishment. They include the multinational corporations (whose most recent accomplishment was the Mexican bailout) and the Business Roundtable types, whose fingers of control slither through what is called the media elite.
These kingmakers are Big Government Republicans. They seek to maintain the current high level of federal spending, and they want to control how the money is spent. They are liberals, but their favorite word to identify themselves is "moderate."
To the grassroots conservatives who are now the dominant majority in the Republican Party, Rockefeller Republicanism means "in your face" Big Government liberalism.
Those are the words of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly, the woman who spearheaded the nomination of Barry Goldwater for president, authored the best-selling book "A Choice, Not An Echo," and almost single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). In other words, contra today's popular conservative radio jocks and talking heads, Phyllis Schlafly actually changed history.
Today's conservative movement doesn't share the same vim and vigor of their forefathers, choosing instead to rollover for whomever the Establishment "conservative" intelligentsia tells them can "win" (whatever that means). After all, it's the "respectable" (read gullible) thing to do.
Don't continue this destructive pattern with Newt Gingrich.
Newt's "Contract With America"
What about that "revolt against Washington" with the Contract With America? Yeah, that was some revolt alright. We have virtually no government at all today.
How many major programs, regulations, and federal agencies were actually abolished? How much legislation was repealed? Was fiscal responsibility restored? How many pork-barrel projects were denied? Was overall federal spending reduced at all? Did the government become less intrusive?
What was done to limit the government to the enumerated powers prescribed by the Constitution? Was the Family and Medical Leave Act repealed? What about the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, the Motor Voter Act, or the Violence Against Women Act? Was the Earned Income Credit repealed? Maybe I missed something. It happens. What did the Republicans do, exactly, to shrink the federal leviathan?
Of course we all know the answer to those questions, don't we? The size and scope of the federal government were not reduced one iota during the so-called "Republican Revolution." In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Government grew. As the Brookings Institution correctly observed:
Viewed historically, the Contract represents the final consolidation of the bedrock domestic policies and programs of the New Deal, the Great Society, the post-Second World War defense establishment, and, most importantly, the deeply rooted national political culture that has grown up around them.
Bottom-line: There was no "Republican Revolution," and it's long past time we stop clinging to the myth that there was.
Newt Gingrich: Big Government "Rockefeller Republican"
When an audio recording was released back in 2008 of then candidate Barack Obama describing the Constitution as having "deep flaws," conservatives were (quite reasonably) aghast. Well, guess what? Current conservative "fave" Newt Gingrich, isn't so fond of the Constitution either.
In 1995, Gingrich told the Center for Strategic and International Affairs:
The American challenge in leading the world is compounded by our Constitution," he said. "Under our [constitutional system] — either we're going to have to rethink our Constitution, or we're going to have to rethink our process of decision-making." He went on to profess an oxymoronic belief in "very strong but limited federal government," and pledged, "I am for the United Nations.
Like Obama, Gingrich also wants to "break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution," because it doesn't say what an activist federal government "must do on your behalf".
The second coming of Newt Gingrich, a progressive conservative who wants government to shape a brave new world
Gingrich's conservatism is more technocratic and it echoes many of the themes of the early 20th-century Progressive movement, which tried to improve America through governmental and social reform … Gingrich [is] wedded to the belief that government could and should promote economic opportunity and healthy living. He told Mother Jones Magazine, "I believe in a lean bureaucracy, not in no bureaucracy. You can have an active, aggressive conservative state which does not in fact have a centralised bureaucracy." Gingrich's role model was progressive Republican reformer Teddy Roosevelt. "We have not seen an activist conservative presidency since TR," he said.
Gingrich calls himself a "conservative Futurist" … According to this view, societies evolve in turn with technological/economic change, and America was in the process of shifting from an industrial society to a consumer-orientated, high-tech one … Newt urged Republicans to embrace the future – to use government to reach the stars and spread the revolution across the universe. He made a further, surprising statement: "I do not believe Republicans or the Congress have a monopoly on solving problems and helping America make the transformation necessary to enter the Third Wave information revolution. Democratic mayors … are making real breakthroughs at the city level. Some of the best of Vice President [Al] Gore's efforts to reinvent government nibble in the right direction."
The Tea Party Surrenders
The nation's largest tea party organization, the Tea Party Patriots, has recently announced that TARP Bailout for Big Wall Street Banks supporting, ethanol lobbyist, Freddie Mac lobbyist, pharmaceutical lobbyist, and, um, "ethically-challenged" advocate for a national health insurance mandate (aka ObamaCare), "leads their Tea Party Straw Poll in Florida with 35 percent of the vote."
How is it that a movement that began with such promise, poised to return the GOP back to its roots of free markets, less taxation and drastically reduced spending is now largely backing three of the guiltiest offenders of such principles? -- Drew Martin
Obviously, the Tea Party movement has officially waived the white flag.
- Tea Party Dropping Out, to Endorse Big Government
- The Tea Party Surrender On Corporate Welfare
- Newt's victory is the tea party's loss
- Back to Bush's Big-Government Conservatism
What is it about Gingrich that has caused so many self-styled conservatives to jump on his bandwagon? What makes people believe Newt is even a conservative candidate, let alone the choice "to save what remains of the vision we have of America as conservatives?" ?????
I'm learning, more and more, that political perceptions have a great deal to do with style. If you slash and shout, many people think of you as "conservative" or "right-wing." If you say right-wing things in a calm, polite way, you may be seen as a moderate.
"Attitude" is another word that comes to mind — attitude and style. They have so much to do with political perceptions.
Think about two governors, Perry and Romney … Perry is considered the more conservative by far. But there are some areas in which Romney is to the "right" of Perry. Thing is, Perry could quote The Communist Manifesto and he'd still come off as conservative. It's the swagger, the chest, the twang — all that.
That's gotta be it. Style!
Because it sure ain't substance.
[This video clip] should dispel once and for all any questions over Gingrich's support for a national health insurance mandate. Somewhat strangely he's never really denied supporting the mandate, and in fact as late as May of last year reiterated essentially the same position on Meet the Press. Yet throughout the campaign he has said repeatedly that it is "clearly unconstitutional", and more recently claimed absurdly that he has only ever supported state level mandates.
Well, here you have it: not only has Gingrich been a long-standing proponent of a federal health insurance mandate, he clearly and unequivocally called for it as part of the White House health reform initiative in May 2009. Mission accomplished then.
In 1995, Newt Gingrich walked away from the right and took up arms with Bill Clinton to fund Mexico with a $40 billion bailout.
In 1989, Gingrich was one of the sponsors behind a bill that would have made controlling the growth of the world population a goal of the U.S. government and given the UN a chance to do something about it. It's just another in a long line of past positions that make Gingrich's current role as the conservative alternative more than a little surprising.
The bill in question was the 1989 Global Warming Prevention Act, which Gingrich — along with 144 of his colleagues — cosponsored back in the 101st Congress. The bill never made it out of committee, but in the form Gingrich backed it he was likely very much on the wrong side of the pro-life community.
Gingrich is undeniably a Washington insider. He has been one for most of his adult life. He started serving in Congress thirty-three years ago, and he stayed in the D.C. area in the twelve years since he left Congress. There could hardly be more of an "insider" figure in this race than Gingrich. The only thing more pathetic than Gingrich's pretense that he isn't is the apparent willingness of tens and hundreds of thousands of Republicans across the country to buy into his rhetoric.
Newt's collected Brainstorms-of-the-Week--"The Triangle of American Progress", "The Four Great Truths", "The Four Pillars of American Civilization", "The Five Pillars of the 21st Century", "The Nine Zones of Creativity", "The Fourteen Steps to Renewing American Civilization", The Thirty-Nine Steps to the Five Year Plan of the Six Flags of the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers of the Nine-Inch Nails of Renewing Civilizational Progress for 21st Century America, etc.
The Democrats demonised Newt as an extreme right-wing crazy. They were right--apart from the 'extreme' and 'right-wing', that is. Most of the above seem more like the burblings of a frustrated self-help guru than blueprints for conservative government. For example, Pillar No. 5 of the 'Five Pillars of American Civilisation' is: 'Total quality management'. Unfortunately for Newt, the person who most needed a self-help manual was him--How to Win Friends and Influence People for a start. After last week's election, Republicans have now embarked on the time-honoured ritual, well known to British Tories and Labour before them, of bickering over whether they did badly because they were too extreme or because they were too moderate. In Newt's case, the answer is both. He spent the last year pre-emptively surrendering on anything of legislative consequence, but then, feeling bad at having abandoned another two or three of his 'Fourteen Steps to Renewing American Civilisation', he'd go on television and snarl at everybody in sight … For Republicans it was the worst of all worlds: a lily-livered ninny whom everyone thinks is a ferocious right-wing bastard.
Newt Gingrich voiced enthusiasm for Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health care law when it was passed five years ago, the same plan he has been denouncing over the past few months as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination.
"The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system," said an April 2006 newsletter published by Gingrich's former consulting company, the Center for Health Transformation.
The most prominent GOP endorser of radical leftist NY-23 congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava is openly musing about running for president in 2012.
No, thanks …
The conservative base is wising up and pushing back. And constantly invoking Reagan isn't going to erase the damage Gingrich has done to his brand over the years by wavering on core issues and teaming up with some of the Left’s biggest clowns.
Gingrich has continued his class warfare strategy in Florida, referring to Romney on Wednesday as somebody who was "liv(ing) in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and making $20 million for no work. ..."
It may be odd for somebody claiming to be a conservative to employ the tactics of the left, but Alinsky wrote an entire chapter on the arbitrary ethics of when the ends justify the means, noting that, "generally success or failure is a mighty determinant of ethics."
GOP nomination fights are often described as battles between Rockefeller Republicans and Goldwater Republicans. In 2012, Gingrich has brought us the Alinsky Republican.
Rudderless and clueless: That's Newt Gingrich. First he got fired up over the fact of firing in the private sector, attacking "Mitt Romney for what are the prerogatives of private property and the fiduciary duty of a CEO managing private property to fire workers when necessary."
Now Newt is raging against Romney's decision, taken in 2003, to veto "a $600,000 expenditure while he was Massachusetts governor that would have paid for kosher meals for seniors in nursing homes on Medicaid, the New York Post reported last week."
In Gingrich we have someone who professes to champion limited, constitutional government. At the same time, he attacks his opponent because of that opponent's failure to approve a welfare program. Newt's attacks, moreover, are almost intuitive and without second thought.
This tells you how foreign the idea of limited government is to Newt Gingrich.
Statism is second nature to Newt.
Late last week, SBE Deputy Secretary Justin Riemer confirmed to The BRAD BLOG both the referral to the AG's office as well as the fact that an investigation into the ballot petition fraud was officially being carried out by the AG.
"This issue has been referred to the State AG by the State Board of Elections, after learning of allegations of fraudulent signature gathering in that case, and a number of others," Riemer told us by telephone. "My understanding is that an investigation is under way," he said.
Regarding the dubious signatures, Gingrich has been quoted as saying, "we turned in 11,100 — we needed 10,000 — 1,500 of them were by one guy who, frankly, committed fraud."
Does Gingrich really expect people to believe "one guy" was responsible for all 1,500? That's a huge number, and if it was, why why wouldn't they just name him? Either way, it's hardly the behavior of an anti-establishment candidate.
While some consultants simply provide strategy or advice, Gingrich directly contacted lawmakers in an effort to win their votes.
Three former Republican congressional staffers told me that Gingrich was calling around Capitol Hill and visiting Republican congressmen in 2003 in an effort to convince conservatives to support a bill expanding Medicare to include prescription-drug subsidies. Conservatives were understandably wary about expanding a Lyndon Johnson-created entitlement that had historically blown way past official budget estimates. Drug makers, on the other hand, were positively giddy about securing a new pipeline of government cash to pad their already breathtaking profit margins.
One former House staffer told me of a 2003 meeting hosted by Rep. Jack Kingston where Gingrich spoke. Kingston would regularly host "Theme Team" meetings with a few Republican congressmen and some of their staff. Just before the House vote, Gingrich was the special guest at this meeting, and he brought one message to the members: Pass the drug bill for the good of the Republican Party.
Contemporaneous reporting confirms this: The Washington Post reported in 2003 that Gingrich addressed a closed-door meeting of conservative Republicans, pushing them to back the bill.
Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.
The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse.
A Freddie Mac spokesman declined to comment on the Gingrich contracts.
Former Freddie Mac officials familiar with his work in 2006 say Gingrich was asked to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.
IRS filings show that Growth Energy, a coalition of ethanol producers, paid Gingrich's consulting firm $312,500 – one of the group's largest single expenditures that year. But a Growth Energy spokesman told the Center that Gingrich was not hired again in 2010.
Earlier this year, Gingrich brawled with the Wall Street Journal after giving a speech supporting ethanol subsidies in Iowa. The Journal's conservative editorial board said that Gingrich's "ethanol lobbying raises larger questions about his convictions and judgment."
Dec. 21, 1996: Newt Gingrich Admits Ethics Violations
Gingrich, who led the charge against the bailout last week, explained his change in position by saying that the House Republicans, "reinforced by John McCain," have improved the bill "significantly" so it is "less bad" than the original proposal offered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
Dec. 21, 1996: Newt Gingrich Admits Ethics Violations
What to make of the former gentleman from Georgia? Newt Gingrich devolved from being an outspoken member of the Sierra Club to helming a House of Representatives renowned for its hostility toward the environment. Now Gingrich has coauthored, with conservation professor and former zoo CEO Terry Maple, A Contract with the Earth, a tome released this month that calls for an era of environmental stewardship, albeit one driven by markets, science and technology.
Gingrich's environmentalism, as is the case with environmentalism in general, is not specifically focused on finding ways to conserve resources and reduce pollution. It is a nuanced, underhanded, and sublimated means of imposing a broader and more ominous set of political reforms. Environmentalism serves as a gateway into the rise of the regulatory state, a more centralized government, higher taxation, increased government spending and deficits, the defeat of the free market, the erosion of national sovereignty, and ultimately the imposition of a global government.
These alarming truths have been most evident in the political thought of Newt Gingrich. His book serves as a window into the dark recesses of his "eco-consciousness," corroborating his big-government tendencies of which constitutionalists have long warned. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Michael D. Tanne, who has written extensively on how Gingrich has led the Republican Party down its failed path of big-government programs and out-of-control spending, observes the following about him:
Anyone who seriously believes that Gingrich is a small-government conservative in the mold of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, should look at the new Contract with America-style manifesto that Newt has proposed as the basis for Republicans to campaign on. Gingrich would expand No Child Left Behind to create national teacher competency standards, and he does not actually call for any specific spending cuts. What he proposes is budget legislation that would lead to a balanced budget in seven years. Perhaps balancing the budget takes so long because he wants to spend so much more on a national energy policy. Gingrich proposes an array of subsidies to every conceivable energy interest group and project from ethanol to hydrogen-powered cars. Of course, there's nothing in Gingrich's manifesto about reforming entitlement programs. That's hardly surprising; Gingrich supported the Medicare prescription drug benefits.
Pro-family crowd: Are you serious?
Newt Gingrich is not the anti-Romney ... he's not even a conservative.
Gingrich is nothing but a Big Government statist - a walking, talking example that Hayek was right: The Worst Really Do Get to the Top.