NOTE: This article was written early in the 2012 election (Dec 2011) before I had fully researched Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann. I later had a complete reversal on Rick Santorum which you can read in a 4 part series beginning here: NUTSS for SANTORUM: Part 1 - TRUTH)
The tweet said, “I will not support Newt Gingrich because he is a big government Republican.” I’m surprised this entire sentence isn’t trending on Twitter. I personally believe Bachmann and Santorum are like more "conservative" than Gingrich. My problem with both of them (as you may have already heard if you read my blog) is that "policy" alone does not a good President or leader make. In my opinion the secret of Reagan and Thatcher was not just a conservative core, it was the ability to persuade and motivate others others to a specific battle plan.
The “big government” charges are:
- Paul Ryan’s plan is a “right wing social experiment”
- He believes in Cap and Trade because he sat on coach with Pelosi
- He was for the Individual Health Care Mandate
- He supported TARP
- He supported Bush 43’s Senior Drug program
There is a big difference between a teetotaler and a drunk. It is clear he is neither but does he just have a glass of wine on holidays, or does he have a nightcap nearly every night? Let’s see.
THE PAUL RYAN THING. People who think Gingrich was against the Paul Ryan plans IDEAS are just intellectually lazy. The "right wing social engineering" response came from a hypothetical question by David Gregory if REPUBLICANS would pass the Ryan bill even if Democrats didn't like it. It was a "gotcha" question that got him. Newt supported the Ryan bill when it first came out giving it high praise in his newsletter and continued to say he would certainly sign it if presented to him. His objection however was forcing it upon the people with legislative trickery similar to what Barack did with ObamaCare. And he's right. In fact HIS position was more conservative than Paul Ryan's - the same Ryan who allowed the GOP to settle for the SuperCommittee instead of keep fighting last July with DeMint on BBA and Cut, Cap and Balance.
It would have been much better for ALL of us however it Gingrich had done what he did on his views on Israel. Set the standard high and sold it. He mentioned in an interview on Greta that Bill Bennett had to help him see what the fuss was about because Gingrich didn't understand how “social engineering” had come across. Most importantly, he apologized. Something Bachmann has STILL not done for her "666" comment about Herman Cain's plan. Would you rather have a politician that says something stupid and never addresses it head on - or someone like Gingrich who spends significant time explaining what he meant?
Drinking scale? All in all Gingrich is the unfortunate Baptist who got beer poured on him at a party.
I had a very uninformed twitter pal try to convince me that Gingrich was "big government" on global warming because he did that stupid ad with Pelosi. But what someone DOES is more important than a stupid IDEA to "get conservatives in the environment discussion." He testified AGAINST Cap and Trade (vigorously I might add) immediately following Al Gore on the hearings. He is very knowledgeable about the lack of scientific data to back it up but never mentions the IPCC scandal or Romney’s former aide, now Obama’s, who is subverting the FOIA. He is for ethanol subsidies which isn’t REALLY anything but tax incentives – not outright giving of tax payer money to firms. That is a big difference.
Drinking Scale: A responsible but foolish middle aged guy who bought liquor for some under age democrats to be “hip.”
The real problems for a 'big government” accusation comes from a small (in terms of life long votes) but significant part of his record. And, although prone to "tinkering" with government as opposed to crusade against it on smaller programs, there are really only 3 major items of concern. The individual mandate during HillaryCare, the Bush 43 drug entitlement bill and TARP.
. Similarly, if he was "big government" you would have expected him to tweak HillaryCare or be for it. He lead aggressive attacks on it publicly and schemed privately to kill nationalized healthcare. It was in that scheming with the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation (the same one that Rush Limbaugh supports, advertises and endorses) that most conservatives thought they could provide a way to stop what seemed inevitable. At the time it seemed a much more responsible position to make people pay than give it away for free. Einstein didn't come up with the theory of relativity as a "whole" idea. It evolved after running into roadblock after roadblock as he tried to make core principles of science fit with the idea he had in his vision. Should Gingrich have had better instincts? Absolutely. Rick Santorum saw it and fought it as a junior congressman and you would hope the “big” thinker could have seen that. He is adamantly against it now and we have NO evidence of Gingrich changing BACK once he works through initial issues. In fact, his Center for Health Transformation has been a rottweiler against ObamaCare for 3 years. But, given that the economy was soaring and the government had no deficits, it is forgivable to me.
Drinking scale: An isolated over indulgence at the company Christmas party retreat. That lasted about 8 years but he’s been in AA for 3 with Heritage, CATO and other bad influences.
NOTE: 2 months after this article I found out Gingrich WAS against TARP and was extremely vocal. I couldn't believe I bought Santorum's lies and it opened my mind to OTHER things he must be lying about, leading me to understand that like Cruz, there are wolves among the Christian conservatives. READ: The Valentine's Day Truth Massacre on TARP
I'm shocked at how many conservative Cain supporters had no idea that Herman was for TARP. Santorum again gets props on this although few realize how dire the situation really was. The justification is always laid at the feet of it being “an emergency.” We have no problem spending without limits in a time of war because our existence is stake. Although I personally disagree, many conservatives and establishment GOP types felt this was a kind of economic attack that could destabilize American currency and send us into a world financial catastrophe. Worse, it came during an election and neither party wanted to be perceived as "doing nothing." With George Bush having come through the Hurricane Katrina debacle where he had expected local and state government to handle Hurricane Katrina issues AS THEY ALWAYS HAD IN PREVIOUS DISASTERS, I’m sure most in Washington were trying to avoid getting killed in the media by suggesting government couldn’t or shouldn’t do anything.
TARP did have unintended GOOD consequences. Politically, the GOP escaped huge hits on unanimously not voting for the STIMULUS because they had voted for TARP. And without a reference with which to compare, the public would have laid an inevitable economic downfall on the GOP. The hit would have been even harder and deeper in 2009 but the economy would just now begin to recover guaranteeing Obama a second term.
On the drinking scale it is the fifth of whiskey the Cowboy surgeon makes the victim drink - and then takes it himself - prior to bloodletting in the 1800's, only to discover he misjudged where the infection. (For those who don't know bloodletting ACTUALLY worked on staph infections.) Would it have been better to not perform the procedure risking only death or recovery? I can forgive this one but can't forgive the lack of sounding the warning at the time.to educate on overriding conservative principles.
IMMIGRATION I’ve already covered extensively in a 3 part series that breaks down the issue, Newt’s record and (even better) the PolitiJim Immigration And Naturalization plan. In summary while Newt’s program suggests complete self-deportation and no citizenship, the only penalty for breaking the law is essentially, inconvenient travel. It is one of those issues that I believe he is overestimated the political resistance to reform and trying not to be “Grinch.”
Drinking scale: Too much Tequila lowering his inhibitions and causing a loss of respect among his peers who had to throw him into bed. Even with the tight restrictions he proposes, I fear the hangover will result in continued disrespect for the law and those in charge of enforcing it in Washington.
DRUG ENTITLEMENT. This to me epitomizes the possible risk with Gingrich. His motivation was actually SMALLER government but his infatuation with unique and creative ideas backfired (at least in the short term). Gingrich understood that given a Democrat congress and a populist Republican in George Bush, Medicare reform wouldn't happen for years and years. He argues that first, we taxpayers are paying $130,000 for heart bypass instead of $2,000 for Lipitor without it. It is a good argument. Secondly, it was the first time government offered consumer choice to control costs and the first form of a health savings account that Gingrich saw as the beginning to true reform. The beginnings of the health equivalent to the "Chilean model" in retirement benefits. Purists like Glenn Beck were incensed that Gingrich wasn’t arguing for complete defunding of Medicare immediately. But it is interesting most ignore Bachmann’s pervasive assurance to seniors that their programs "won't be touched." Why not the hatred for her statement from them? And would you rather be paying $100,000 more per patient to address heart blockage until we have a Medicare solution, it gets public acceptance, it gets adopted and the current "grandfathered" (pun intended) recipients run out? The political reality that Gingrich understands is that most certainly he would sign a reform bill for Medicaid as he did for Welfare, he doesn’t know how to make this case to a bigger audience without commitment political suicide.
The two major problems that all of the conservatives who voted for it have is that they never took into account that it only estimated ten years in the future (not fully accounting for boomer retirement.) It also didn't focus specifically on the tiny group of seniors who were deprived of ANY drug solutions leaving a whole system to be exploited by non-deserving seniors. It is disconcerting that with all of the understanding Gingrich has with his Center for Health Transformation efforts - he is not validating that he sees the runaway costs on this program. So here we have to conclude either Gingrich is a political genius - putting elements in place to move liberals and independents into entitlement reform without the fear that we will let them starve - or he is too worried about seeming to be the "Grinch" that shot grandma.
We have evidence for both. He was brilliant in forcing Clinton to the right, fighting against his own party to bring all 10 Contract With America issues to a vote in the first 100 days as promised. And, his "heartless" comment about illegal families that have been here 20 or 25 years shows he is willing to bend conservative policy to emotion driven ones.
On our drinking scale he seems to be a functioning alcoholic who can't admit he has a problem.
And he isn't totally wrong. A less than charismatic figure could easily get beaten by Obama if he doesn't adequately “sell” the smaller government programs. As the victory for the unions in Ohio showed on the prop 2 issue, most Americans are generous people and when presented with a badly sold conservative choice against depriving school teachers and fireman of jobs and retirement they will NOT choose the conservative route. As much as we want illegals deported, all entitlements stopped, and every “Department” except Defense disbanded, it is well LESS than 20% of all voters who want or approve of all those things. Which brings us back to the Paul Ryan issue.
CONSERVATIVE POLICY ALONE WONT MAKE A GOOD PRESIDENT.
To me this was the brilliance of Palin and why we are at such a loss without her. She created a "plan" that was mentally digestible to Alaskans and lead the troops up the glacier to overthrow corruption in her own party and in the state. (Gingrich articulates this in about 60 seconds better than anyone I've heard – at the 3 minute mark of the first Greta video above). Ironically when you study short Palin's Governorship, she actually had to reverse a couple of stances that were NOT conservative (including the Bridge to Nowhere). It is this ability to ADJUST toward conservatism that I am interested in. Reagan implemented the most liberal abortion laws ever in California - but after a (long) time, studied and solidified his conviction - and then became solidly pro-life. But in the end, he really never accomplished much or took on overturning Roe V Wade as many of us wanted. But had he done so, he might have lost the momentum he had for fiscal issues as he had to operate with a Democrat congress.
Bachmann has disappointed me by going beyond her (great) rally against ObamaCare and moving into creating a unique objective people will follow. As Dick Morris pointed out recently, Gingrich's rise coincided with his addition of solutions to his brilliant attacks on the media and Obama. Santorum keeps talking about bills he co-sponsored or voted on, but he is stuck on legislation mode instead of waving a banner of a movement. "999" was a big leader idea that represented MORE than just three 9% changes, but a entire restructuring of how the IRS and our spending fit together. Romney presents 59 individual changes with no binding overriding crusade behind it. For now, Newt is the man who not only continues to present bold new plans (like calling Palestinians an invented people,) but he has a track record of DOING it.
Reagan was brilliant at this. Obama's 2008 campaign team was as well although in deceit. Most Americans won't take the time to do their homework on REAL policy. It's changed a bit with the Tea Party but you and I are the minority minority. Most American voters make quick judgments similar to math questions on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. They can't or wont' take the time to work out the answer themselves - but they take an emotional stab at one of 4 choices presented to them. They say to themselves, “the ‘lifeline’ sounds like he is smart” or “he makes a reasonable case for his answer” and choose WHO will make their answer for them.
So is everyone drunk with Gingrich-Ale?
Newt attended a skeptical audience at Richard Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ conference. A hero to many of us on ObamaCare legal challenges is Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who asked:
“How can we be sure, what’s the restraint on you that these ideas won’t end up being more big government?” asked Cuccinelli.Gingrich left to a sustained standing ovation and direct quotes from many who had changed their minds.
Speaker Gingrich replied to laughter that “there’s nothing to restrain a President from doing something dumb, but I trust the people in this room to tell me if that is the case.” But then he noted more seriously that, “I’m a Federalist. I look to the Federalist Papers and the Constitution to guide me and restrain government.”
He hasn’t convinced me he is Rush Limbaugh without the cigar. But you do have to ask yourself why, if Newt was so liberal and big government, would the liberals and GOP Establishment hate him? The liberal press was disdaining his "conservative" solutions in 2009 and the Democrats see him as a Tea Partier. Not enough to convince me he is Jefferson or Adams but nice to know THEY are worried. He certainly was an EFFECTIVE leader as Speaker, and the truth is he wasn't liked because he was too much like an executive than a legislator. And he wouldn't let the Establishment get away with the same old stuff like going home early to campaign.
Tony Blankley, columnist and former aide to Gingrich describes how amazingly perceptive and inventive he was in getting conservative bills passed with a significant number of liberal GOP who were always threatening to jump to the other side. Things you don’t hear. He also shakes his head at the GOP establishment now shunning him when they all were glowing about his leadership as they notched victory after victory. You want to hear a great story about Romney pawn John Sununu read Tony’s article. It’ll help you understand why Newt is a threat.
So why not Bachmann or Santorum?
Santorum to me is like "Apple" of conservatives. As the personal computer was introduced in the early years, Apple may have a better product, but IBM was better at marketing theirs. Both work, but Apple does so more elegantly. I am a PC user and don't like the expense and limited availability of Apple software so it is tough for me to right this, but I would much rather HAVE an "Apple" candidate. And a purer conservative who will fight to be responsible to a limited government answer to everything is great unless I would not have a majority of the market share for years and years.
The reality is that with all of the economic reforms, clean up of Obama Care and Administration leftover poisons, Gingrich won't have a lot of time in his first four years to implement any NEW programs. If Gingrich has a vocal conservative VP willing to out their own leader like DeMint or Palin (and who could challenge him in 2016), Gingrich might actually be BETTER than a purer conservative who can't explain and motivate the REST of America as to how conservatism will benefit them. Things like his support of the Bush drug boondoggle will make him MORE acceptable to independents (and even liberals fed up at Obama) in a general election as he won't SEEM so extreme.
So would you rather have a conservative wolf in sheep's clothing as Gingrich might be, or pure conservative lamb without much knowledge and experience in actual policy implementation and leadership that scares majorities off with a wolf costume?
To me there isn't a GOOD answer, but one at least one of those choices gives us a chance to make change now with the current administration.
With Gingrich I’m not worried about him driving home after a drink or two at the bar, but I’m not leaving him at home alone with the keys to the liquor cabinet.
LAST CALL: As I am just posting this 2 twitter friends @southrngirl77 @MRPRFCT are alerting me to praise Gingrich gave communist leaning Andy Stern and SEIU back in 2007 following several meetings with him. Now even Glenn Beck hadn’t learned of Andy Stern or SEIU’s Marxist plot and connections (and likely the majority in Congress still don’t) so I’m quite sure just like the Toffler’s Newt was on his “liberal friendship” tour. Newt said this in his book Real Change according to HuffPo:
Conservatives cannot cheer unions overseas and then be blindly anti-union here at home. There are legitimate historic reasons for workers to organize together, and there is a strong need for a healthy, competitive, union, movement that helps improve the lives of its members and the competitiveness of our country.So let’s be intellectually honest. Did Gingrich have a “pro-union” 20+ voting record? No. He has a 90% or 94% pro-conservative record over an amazingly long legislative career. Did he support and participate in any SEIU sponsored policies that impacted law. No.
Andy Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union, is the union leader who probably best understands the challenge of the world market and the need to make American union members productive in the face of world competition. Sadly, he is a distinct minority among union leaders.
…former Gingrich aide Rick Tyler stressed that his former boss no longer agrees with those sentiments. "He met with Andy Stern several times and Andy Stern had given Newt the impression that he was a forward-looking union leader," said Tyler. "Turns out he wasn’t."
Did Gingrich adopt ANY of the radical or even liberal views of SEIU since meeting with Stern? Hell no.
But there will be many dishonest partisans on the conservative side who acting like a cross between James Carville and David Axelrod (what would a baby from Axelrod and Carville look like – yikes) who want to now make this bigger than what it is. Which is Gingrich is continually trying to broaden cooperation and relationships with the other side.
I understand that there are some “anti-union” conservatives who might not even know that Ronald Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild. Siphoning the union vote was critical to BOTH of Reagan’s elections. But there is no way a distinguished ultra conservative paper like the New Hampshire Union Leader would have endorsed Gingrich if this was significant, well known position of the Newt.
Drinking scale: I personally am GLAD he met with Stern and isn’t afraid to walk in liberal circles. I’m ready to have a drink myself though after reading his endorsement of Stern just trusting what he SAID instead of waiting to see what he does.