Newt and the Pundits
To many people, history is what has happened in the past few years or weeks. Regrettably, the American public is woefully ignorant of what has transpired in the past. Thus they can be easily influenced by those willing to demagogue or skew the facts to serve their political ambitions or biases. The truth about what happened nearly twenty or fifteen years ago is unknown to far too many potential voters.
The recent tidal wave of criticism, re-hashing, and exaggerating Newt Gingrich's "baggage" and positions, mostly by Republican pundits and politicians, is a case in point. However, the reality of what happened in the 1980's and 90's has been lost amid the vitriol. While Newt Gingrich may not be the ideal candidate and he may not ultimately win the nomination, the facts deserve to be told.
In a column by Tony Blankley, who served as Newt's press secretary while he was Speaker of the House, the reality of those years has been revealed.
In speaking of those congressmen and former congressmen who are now telling reporters that Gingrich was never much of a leader:
Curious. I remember most of them enthusiastically following his leadership year after year as the Republican whip from 1989-1994. It was the most successful congressional opposition movement since Disraeli formed the modern Conservative Party in Britain in the mid-19th century. And after the GOP took back the House for the first time in 40 years (and the Senate too, by the way), Gingrich's four years as speaker proved to be the most productive, legislative congressional years since at least 1965 to 1967, and they were led by Lyndon B. Johnson from the White House. Working against -- and -- with Democratic President Bill Clinton, we passed into law the Contract with America, welfare reform, telecommunications reform (which ushered in the modern cell phone and Internet age), we had the first balanced budget since before the Vietnam War, we cut taxes and lowered unemployment to under 5 percent.
Just who the heck do all these wizard political pros think managed all that? It wasn't us clever staffers or many of the now grumbling GOP K Street crowd. We helped, but Gingrich led. I admit Gingrich's methods were not orthodox. He modified the seniority chairman system and picked the best members for key posts. More than a few feathers got ruffled.
Mr. Blankley also relates how Newt had to deal with two-dozen Northeastern Republican moderates and liberals in the GOP caucus who held the balance of power in their hands (there were not 218 conservative votes in the House) yet he was still able to shrewdly maneuver this precarious majority and pass so much conservative legislation.
Much has been made of the government shutdown in 1995-1996 and Newt has been skewered for those events, yet as Mr. Blankley points out:
When Gingrich was speaker, he followed his own advice. He refused to raise taxes, he made a political fight of spending cuts with Bill Clinton (paying a big price in personal smears run against him), but we won the historic balanced budgets.
The Republican primary voters will make the ultimate decision on who will oppose Obama next year, not the establishment or the media. The choice for some will be based on so-called ideological purity, or single issues, or out-of-context demagoguery, or the reality of choosing the person they sense can not only defeat Obama and the Democrat/media smear machine, but has the philosophy, tenacity and proven ability to reverse the course the country is on. But this same electorate also has the duty to be informed and not influenced by those with a personal or political agenda.
An example of a political agenda are the headlines today trumpeting the latest poll result out of Iowa -- as it appears to work to the benefit of those in the mainstream media and the Republican establishment. The headline screams to the world that Newt Gingrich has peaked and is now destined to fail, why? Ron Paul is only one point behind and Newt has lost nearly seven points.
However, what this doesn't say is that the poll is from the Public Policy Polling group, which has been among the more unreliable over the years and, most importantly of all, this is a poll of all potential voters -- Democrats, Independents and Republicans. The Iowa caucus is open only to Republicans. Within this poll is the result among potential caucus voters, the result: Gingrich 25%, Ron Paul 17% (little changed from a week ago). Further, and more importantly, when asked which candidate is more electable, among Republicans, Gingrich 30%, Romney 21% and Ron Paul 14%.
This next election is the most important since 1860 in determining the future course of the United States and whoever is chosen must not only be enthusiastically supported next November but the nominating process underway must be devoid of unbridled emotion, demagoguery and the usual dirty tricks and sleaze.