Q: Given his secular nature, given some of his personal difficulties in the past, is Newt Gingrich, in your view, suited to be President?
Weyrich: Well, a lot of people have failings. The real question is not whether he has failed in the past. There is no man who lives who does not sin. The question is whether he has acknowledged these failings and intends to do something about them. So I don't consider him unfit for office because of what he's done. A lot of people would be disqualified were that the case. I think it's unfortunate. I think he thinks it's unfortunate. I'm not sure that he would do the same thing today that he has done in the past.
Weyrich: Temperamentally, there is nothing that suggests that he wouldn't make a decent President. Contrary to all of the fol de rol of the sparks and fury that he creates, he is very pragmatic underneath and he does not do things that are terribly foolish. Most of what he does, he knows precisely what he's doing. Occasionally, he says something at the spur of the moment that he shouldn't say and as President he would have to curb that because he could cause an international crisis or bring a stock market crash or something by doing that. But he is even learning now as Speaker of the House to be more cautious with what he says. So I don't know anything about him temperamentally that suggests that he would make an erratic or foolish or impetuous decision that would endanger the country.
This is from a PBS Frontline Interview in the mid 90’s. Weyrich died in 2008. And it is extremely revealing. Weyrich and Gingrich first met in the 1970’s and his thoughts reveal some juicy tidbits including:
- Weyrich was afraid Newt would run for President BECAUSE HE THOUGHT HE WOULD WIN. He felt Gingrich was the only person who keep the coalition of Republicans with such different persuasions together.
- He is adamant that Gingrich’s conservatism is deeply based.
- He is convinced “reform” is Newt’s primary objective as a conservative.
- He was never completely comfortable (at the time of this interview) because Gingrich based his conservative values on history and not scripture.
- Weyrich says although he realizes his (Weyrich’s) advice wasn’t always correct, that Gingrich fervently sought him out for advice, especially in his early years.
- He agrees it was Gingrich’s leadership that bucked the establishment in taking the idea the GOP could become a majority.
- Weyrich says Gingrich is defined by being “intellectually honest.”
- Weyrich says Gingrich won't compromise what he believes for popularity.
For those who (shockingly) may not know, Paul Weyrich was the founder of the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation – two of the most influential think tanks in the conservative movement. Weyrich co-founded the Moral Majority and coined the phrase. He was, arguably, the foremost social conservative leader and pretty damn effective as a straight up conservative with or without the evangelical stuff. Who would have thought one of the chief leaders of politically attuned Southern Baptists got started with beer money? Politics make strange bedfellows and bar buddies both. One thing you need to know:
Weyrich endorsed Romney in 2008.
And deeply regretted it.
And begged McCain NOT to choose him for VP.
More on that at the end of this article. This summary does NOT give you full nuance and I urge you to read it in it’s entirety. Keep in mind this was before Gingrich’s own spiritual awakening and commitment to Christ and Catholic church. Some highlights (any emphasis notated is mine):
Q: …do you believe that Newt has a guiding vision?
Weyrich: Yes, he has a guiding vision. But I think it is one which will ultimately prove to be a problem for him because it's not based in truth. It is very technologically oriented. …Newt is a very smart individual and if he finds that some of this experimentation doesn't work, he'll change. I mean, one good thing about him is he does not stick to error forever as some people do. He's willing to look at a different alternative.
Q: To what do you attribute this solidarity and loyalty in this freshman class to Newt?
Weyrich: Well, they believe that he was very much connected to their victory when all other political analysts and even Party officials were writing off the chance to win a majority in the House of Representatives. Newt Gingrich was there telling them, 'No, it can be done, and if you'll just push a little harder, and win your seat and the other guys win theirs. We're gonna do it.' He was the only one that was telling them that. And if you're out there and you're battling against odds, and you're 22 points behind and it's three weeks before the election and you're having trouble raising money because nobody thinks you can win and Newt Gingrich says, 'No, I think you can win. And furthermore I'll come to your district and I'll campaign for you and I'll try to help you and so on.' I mean, you can't buy that kind of loyalty.
Q: I was not suggesting that he was doing it for cynical reasons, but even if he was, it certainly paid off.
Weyrich: I don't think it was cynical. I mean, I think he is the one person who actually believed that this was going to happen. I have to confess to you, I did not. I mean, I thought they would gain significantly, and I thought that Newt would probably have operating control of the House, but I did not think the Republicans would get a majority in this election.
Q: And to some degree he has gotten to that fast lane on that freeway in part because of his association with you, hasn't he?
Weyrich: Well, he asked a lot of advice early on. I gave a lot of advice. Some of it he took and some of it he did not. He tells me that I was helpful to him, but, you know, we work with each other.
Q: You don't, I assume, hesitate to express your disappointment on those occasions when you feel it.
Weyrich: Oh, he has felt my wrath on many occasions, some justified, some not. But I never hesitate to let him know and I was very pleased recently when he called me about a matter and he said, 'I'm calling you because I know that you will tell me what I don't want to hear, if you know, if it's true.' And there's no higher compliment that you could pay me than that. And if I have that kind of relationship with him, then it can't go wrong. That doesn't mean, however, that he's going to listen to every piece of advice that I give him… And by the way, every piece of advice I give isn't right because I don't have any infallibility connected to my views.
Q: You say one of the things you admire about Newt is that he is a conservative, that he is not hesitant to use power. What do you mean by that?
Weyrich: Well, most conservatives hate power so much that they don't use it even for the common good. And therefore if they get in a position where they can do something, they don't do it because they don't really want to use power and authority. Newt doesn't have that problem. He knows what he is capable of doing if he gets into a position. He uses that position and so he has become a very powerful speaker. Many other conservatives would be in that position and would not be powerful speakers because they would be trying to accommodate everyone and they would never remove somebody from a committee or they wouldn't reach down under the seniority system to pick a committee chairman. He's consolidated a lot of power onto himself and he has used it wisely. And not everybody's happy about it, but the fact is, he knows how to use power and he knows this because he has studied important historical figures who used power. Figures in British political history, figures in American political history like Teddy Roosevelt. He greatly admires Teddy Roosevelt. He has really studied how they did it and he emulates what they have done.
PolitiJim note: This is the 10th or 11th article or interview I’ve read about Newt’s admiration of FDR and Teddy Roosevelt. In EVERY case, it’s HOW they got things done – NOT their policies or philosophies.
Q: Is there another Newt out there sort of waiting to...?
Weyrich: No. I wish there were. I wish that we had lots to choose from, but we don't. He's very unique. And as a matter of fact, I've been very concerned that he might run for the Presidency because, while I admit that the people who are running are not my cup of tea, nevertheless, I think he plays a very unique role in keeping that very diverse group of Republicans together in the House and if he leaves, I think that they will not be together. I think that if he leaves, he runs the danger of not only not getting elected President, although he might get the nomination, but also of losing the House of Representatives. If that happens he will also get blamed for losing the House of Representatives and disturbing what I think will be a rightful place in history…
Q: You of course have no way of knowing whether he will, but I bet you don't have any doubt that he wants to.
Weyrich: Oh, I think he wants to in one sense. He learns a job very quickly and I think he's already intellectually a little bit bored with being Speaker of the House and therefore would welcome the higher challenge. On the other hand, I think he also recognizes the extraordinary risks to himself and to things that he does want to push were he to run. So, I'm not sure that it's a total burning desire to run. I think at times, when he looks at the existing field, and he hears how they handle issues, he thinks to himself, and very rightly so, 'Were I in that position, I could do a far superior job than what they're doing.' And you can't blame him for that because he could.
Q: Given his personal failings is Bill Clinton suited to be President, then?
Weyrich: Well, I think Bill Clinton is far more dysfunctional than Newt Gingrich. Newt has been able to translate much of what he believes into reality. I think Clinton has a disconnect between his very high intellect and his ability to absorb data and his ability to translate that into reality and then to stick with it. So, between the two of them, I personally think that Newt would make a better president.
How in the world are ANY conservatives choosing Santorum even, over Gingrich? That man is a historic figure that has actually DONE what we all want. A take over of power by conservatives TO REFORM. Perhaps the singular most defining aspect of this interview after the fact Weyrich felt Gingrich would make a good a President – was that he is all about reform.
HOLD ON TO YOUR GOP COWBOY HAT. READ HOW PETRIFIED WEYRICH WAS OF MITT ROMNEY IN OFFICE
And we know how it happens that time fades memories and blurs things that seem so clear cut. Because IT HAPPENED TO WEYRICH in 2008, when he first endorsed Romney, then switched to Huckabee in the show down with McCain. There is no better wisdom from a conservative who has seen the movement from it’s infancy. Or from an elder who is able to be humble enough to see where he made mistakes. From a left wing 2008 article citing CBN news and other sources – an outlet which has no vested interest in making Weyrich, Huckabee or Romney look good:
Weyrich appears to have done some soul-searching and has come to regret his support of Romney at the expense of Huckabee:
In a quiet, brief, but passionate speech, Weyrich essentially confessed that he and the other leaders should have backed Huckabee, a candidate who shared their values more fully than any other candidate in a generation. He agreed with Farris that many conservative leaders had blown it. By chasing other candidates with greater visibility, they failed to see what many of their supporters in the trenches saw clearly: Huckabee was their guy.
The extent of Weyrich’s remorse appears to be even deeper than anyone could have imagined, as he has now joined a group of former-Huckabee backers and other right-wing activists in warning McCain that picking Romney as a running mate would be “utterly unacceptable”
Conservative leader Paul Weyrich – who endorsed Mitt Romney’s presidential bid – has signed on to an open letter from more than two dozen movement activists to John McCain warning him not to select the former Massachusetts governor as his VP pick if he expects their support.
"If Governor Romney is on your ticket, many social conservative voters will consider their values repudiated by the Republican Party and either stay away from the polls this November or only vote down the ticket,” they write in a message posted online by a political action committee called “Government is Not God.”
The letter – topped by the headline “NO Mitt” — will run as a print ad in cities visited by McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, beginning with his Arizona stop this weekend.
How, in the course of just a few months, Weyrich went from citing Romney’s “experience, vision and values” as making him best-suited to be President to declaring that he is absolutely unqualified to serve as McCain’s running mate is utterly mind-boggling:
When a chief executive can violate multiple articles of the oldest functioning constitution in the world and disobey statutes he solemnly swore to defend and execute faithfully, then blame judges who never even asked him to intervene, he mocks the principle of limited government and the separation of powers. He robs Americans of their unalienable right to self-government, for which so many soldiers, sailors and airmen have died.
These are just two issues (there are more) that absolutely disqualify Mitt Romney as a viable Vice Presidential option. He would fatally harm your appeal to voters with deep constitutionalist and social conservative commitments.
If Governor Romney is on your ticket, many social conservative voters will consider their values repudiated by the Republican Party and either stay away from the polls this November or only vote down the ticket. For the sake of your election, the health of your party, and the future of America you must not allow the obvious electoral consequences of that to occur.
So to recap. The FOUNDER of the Moral Majority and two of the most important conservative think tanks says:
- It is a mistake to choose someone just on the basis of who seems “electable” versus reflecting your values.
- Voting for Mitt Romney is a repudiation of social conservative values.
- Weyrich effectively felt Romney believed “Government is God”
- Weyrich felt Romney “mocked” limited government and the separation of powers.
- He believed Romney was harmful to the GOP.
Perhaps Paul Weyrich’s last part of the letter is the most important:
As citizens, activists, and leaders with our feet on the solid ground of real world Republican and Independent voters, it is our duty to alert you that the grassroots is nearing a point of breaking with Republican Party leadership on many issues, not the least of which is the relentless whitewashing of Mitt Romney as a so-called "conservative."