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Newt Gingrich: The New John McCain

May 18, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Elections: 2012

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Image by Scott Spiegel via Flickr

Now that Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have been neutralized as 2012 Republican presidential primary candidates, it’s time to get to work discrediting the thoroughly inadequate and inappropriate front-runner wannabe, Newt Gingrich.

The former Speaker of the House, who initiated the groundbreaking Contract With America in 1994, then pissed away the Republican Congress’s momentum out of timidity after President Bill Clinton was reelected, had his chance to influence the course of national events.  With the notable exception of the successful Welfare Reform Act of 1996, he failed in his mission.

On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” candidate Gingrich revealed that he had fallen for the trap of thinking that not raising the federal debt ceiling means that the U.S. will default on its debt, or that default is necessarily a bad thing.  He told host David Gregory that if Obama and the Democratic Senate don’t compromise with House Republicans, he would favor an endless, niggling series of tiny budget cuts and “a debt ceiling [increase] every three weeks” until a long-term solution was reached.

Gingrich thinks the individual mandate component of ObamaCare—the most contentious, despised, and constitutionally dubious element of the bill—is a dandy idea.  He’s quick to clarify that he thinks such an undue violation of our individual freedoms should be carried out on the state level, not the federal level—though that’s not what he said a few years ago.

Gingrich cut a cutesy commercial with Nancy Pelosi in which the odd couple argued for Congress to act more precipitously to adopt anti-global warming legislation, though now he claims to oppose a cap-and-trade system.  He continues to support wasteful ethanol subsidies.

Gingrich famously partnered with race huckster Al Sharpton to promote greater federal involvement in the country’s educational system, based on the fantastic job Washington has done so far.

He opposed the Wall Street bank bailout proposed in the fall of 2008, until moderates in his party pressured him to change his mind, such that by the end of September he suddenly supported it.

Tea Party activists were aghast at Gingrich’s inexplicable endorsement of RINO Dede Scozzafava—who subsequently endorsed the Democrat in the general election after she lost the primary—over true conservative Doug Hoffman in the 2009 special election in NY-23.

On foreign policy, Gingrich opposes waterboarding as an interrogation technique, even though it was demonstrably successful in helping gain intelligence that led to the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.

But Gingrich’s biggest blunder so far was his mindless, shallow condemnation of House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity, which would cut $5 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years and take the painful and necessary step of instituting Medicare entitlement reform.  According to Gingrich on “Meet the Press,” such a plan is “right-wing social engineering.”  Reminder to Newt: Implementing a shortsighted, wealth-redistributing, unsustainable “social insurance” program in 1965 was “left-wing social engineering.”

According to Gingrich, undoing Medicare is too radical, even though instituting Medicare was too radical.  As Orwell might say: Redemption = sin.  Theft = generosity.

At this rate, Gingrich is on track to become the left-wing’s GOP darling, the John McCain of 2012.  He’ll be praised to high heaven by the New York Times editorial board for his forthrightness, bipartisanship, and flexibility—and then he’ll lose in a landslide to Obama, whom The Times and every other liberal media outlet will endorse in the general election before you can say “My friends…”

Proving that his only consistency is inconsistency, Gingrich disavowed his comments on Ryan and the individual mandate the next day.  His opposition to Ryan’s plan lingered in his stated reversal, however: “I think we should be very careful about imposing things on the American people.”  The implication being that privatizing Medicare is just as much an imposition on people as instituting Medicare.  Relief = imposition.  Slavery = freedom.

Gingrich added, “I don’t think you want to come in and to say to every single American, we’re going to come in and change uniformly for all of you in the most fundamental way what happens to you when you are 65.”  Rather than clarifying his position, Gingrich’s comments demonstrated only that he doesn’t understand the first detail of Ryan’s plan, or that he’s shamelessly misrepresenting and oversimplifying it to cover up for his blunder.

Gingrich thinks the will of the people should be respected in implementing major social legislation, but evidently the constitutionality of the legislation is of no great concern, nor does he harbor any presumption that more intrusive legislation should inherently be held to a higher standard of scrutiny than less intrusive legislation.

In a charitable characterization, Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey said, “It’s typical of Newt to be whimsical.  We always say: Newt always has so many great ideas.  Well yeah, but then he shifts between them at such a rate it’s pretty hard to track it let alone keep up with it.”

Gingrich used to be considered a man of principle, but desperation for political relevance has made it clear that he, like McCain—and Huckabee, Trump, and too many other contenders in the GOP field—has no principles.

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