The Center by Jerry Morgan
Now that Newt has ridden the second wave of popularity back to the top of the polls in the fight for the top spot in the GOP ticket come this fall, it begs the question, just who is Newt and what does he really stand for?
It reminds me of the story of how one would answer the question “how much is 2 plus 2?”. A mathematician would reply 4, an economist would reply 4 plus or minus 1, while a politician would reply “what do you want it to be?”
Newt is first and foremost a politician, so it is difficult to know what the real Newt’s positions are on the issues. Moreover, Newt is always posturing, always thinking of alternatives, always throwing ideas out there without having thought them through. So, who knows if even Newt knows how he really feels on the issues. It varies like the weather and it varies by what town he is stumping in that day. Of course, one could say, with even more conviction, the very same about Mitt.
So then, we will have to examine the record to establish some past history of how Newt stood on issues when he was Speaker and when he made public appearances through the years prior to becoming a serious presidential candidate.
Joe Scarborough knows Newt from his days in Congress. He told David Gregory, after the SC primary, on Meet the Press, that the problem with both Newt and Mitt is that neither are true conservatives. Both were for the individual mandate on health-care and both have held moderate to even progressive positions on many issues in the past.
We all know Mitt’s record as a moderate to liberal governor of the very liberal state of Massachusetts. But we have to turn the clock back further to examine Newt’s record in Congress. For his rather erratic voting record see the excellent post by Steve Jordan in Anna Janek’s blog on November 26, 2011. While Newt has taken many conservative positions during his tenure in Congress, Mr. Jordan points out that he has voted favorably on bills to substantially increase Federal education spending, support NAFTA, and use Federal tax dollars on abortion programs.
My point is that Newt has a long history of voting his conscience on the issues rather than according to strict party lines. In my opinion, I respect any member of Congress who has the guts to vote his or her mind whether or not I agree with the position. The problem that I do have with Newt is that he has sometimes strayed too far from the norm.
He would like to fire judges who differ from his point of view. According to a Reuters.com article on Dec. 28, 2011 during a campaign stop in NH Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich threatened to have U.S. judges arrested if they disagreed with his policies as president, ratcheting up his attacks on the judiciary. This follows earlier comments he made on Face The Nation that he would subpoena a judge that disagreed with him stating, “if you had to or you'd instruct the Justice Department to send a U.S. Marshall” if necessary to bring the judge in. In my opinion, this has to be in the .001 percent of mainline thinking regarding the judiciary.
His remarks about child labor also seemed several standard deviations from the norm when he first enunciated them, however, he has placed them in a better context during the SC debates. Newt is a tough old codger and we need a tough guy in the White House, one who is not afraid to stand up to foreign leaders and one who will demand their respect. But at the same time rationality is critically important for the position of President of the United States of America.
In my mind, Newt has many attributes that make him the best of the four candidates left standing in the GOP race, but some of his liabilities are very troublesome.
Despite his liabilities, Newt would be my choice to oppose Mr. Obama partly because I believe that his conservative convictions are not cast in stone, but are more opportunistic. I believe he will move more to the center and could actually be a bridge builder between the two parties. My hope is that if by some miracle he makes into the White House, he will rise to the occasion and sober up to the realities of the responsibilities of the office.
The Left by Y.I. Wearblack
Newt’s landslide win in SC was a great moment for the Democratic Party and for the progressive movement. The personification of angry, white Conservatism has a new breath of life from Gingrich’s victory. A serial adulterer, a man who has violated his religious beliefs, shown himself to be a hypocrite on family values, cavorted with another woman while his wife was ill with cancer, and was exiled from the House of Representatives has overcome his past transgressions because he is willing to play to the underlying bigotry and naiveté of the American electorate. Should such a man be elected President of the United States of America?
Could a man with a sixty percent disapproval rating make so strong a case against the Presidency of Barack Obama that he can overcome his long dirty laundry list? Was this win in SC a testament to a great politician with superior skills as a statesman and debater or was it an anti-Romney, anti-establishment protest? Mitt Romney has said that Barack Obama divided America by pitting class against class. Newt Gingrich has proposed that Mitt would be a great target for Barack Obama’s class warfare.
What may have made Newt’s comeback possible was his promise of staunch support for Israel. It bought him the support of right-winger and casino mogul, Adelson, who may has written a check for at least 5 million dollars to support his super PAC.
All of that aside, if Newt Gingrich ever became president, the social safety net which saved America would be dismantled. Those on Medicare would likely have to pay more. Those going onto Medicare in the immediate future would be means tested. Social Security would be altered to allow for private accounts that can be dwindled away by the vicissitudes of Wall Street.
Economic austerity would likely follow just as it did in the states that elected Republican governors and as it did in Europe with disastrous consequences. At a time when 50 million people are without health insurance, do we wish to designate their fate to a private market that serves profit over their health; that excludes people on the basis of existing conditions; that throws children off of their parent’s policies at age 21?
The acrimony towards Gingrich extends as much to Republicans as it does to Democrats. He is universally hated by Republicans who worked with him. Even Boehner has stated his misgivings. Why? What is their reason? Could it be they regard him as a psychological time bomb? Like I said, the Newt win in SC was a great moment for Democrats.