Eye of Newt

There’s a lot of pixels being sacrificed over Newton Leroy Gingrich these days.

The insider-outsider divide over Newt Gingrich

There’s a deep and growing divide in the Republican world between those who are able to reconcile themselves with — to wrap their heads around — the possibility of Newt Gingrich becoming the GOP presidential nominee, and those who are not. It’s becoming increasingly clear that it is Washington insiders who are having the most trouble imagining a Gingrich nomination, while Republicans outside Washington aren’t having a problem.

Of course it’s the Washington insiders who have the most actual experience dealing with Gingrich. Just look at what Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who served with Gingrich in the House in the 1990s, said about the former speaker on Fox News Sunday. “I’m not inclined to be a supporter of Newt Gingrich’s having served under him for four years and experienced personally his leadership,” Coburn said. “I found it lacking often times.”

“There are all types of leaders,” Coburn continued. “Leaders that instill confidence, leaders that are somewhat abrupt and brisk, leaders that have one standard for the people they are leading and a different standard for themselves. I just found his leadership lacking and…I will have difficulty supporting him as president of the United States.”

Gingrich has also taken flak from another former colleague, Rep. Peter King. “The problem was, over a period of time, he couldn’t stay focused,” King said of Gingrich a few days ago. “He was undisciplined. Too often, he made it about himself.”

It’s more than just former colleagues. If one were to survey politicos, journalists and others who lived through Gingrich’s years as speaker in Washington, there would likely be a near-consensus that Gingrich will blow up his candidacy through some mixture of arrogance and indiscipline. Those insiders simply don’t believe there is a New Newt. Old Newt, the Gingrich who alienated many of his colleagues back in the 90s, will reassert himself soon enough, they believe.

Those opinions are colored by personal experience with Gingrich during his years as speaker. That’s not the case for most voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and the rest of the primary and caucus states. While insiders remember Gingrich’s low points from the 90s, outsiders remember his triumphs. They remember a Gingrich who had the vision to imagine a Republican takeover of the House when no one else could, and the skill to make it happen. And when outsiders think of the two greatest policy achievements of the Clinton years — a balanced budget and welfare reform — they know Gingrich can legitimately claim a lot of credit for both. So what if he was abrupt with colleagues? Or, for that matter, if he was the target of a Democratic-driven ethics attack? As far as the 1990s are concerned, outsiders remember Gingrich’s high points.

When I was in college in the mid-nineties I did a term paper on Newt. I still have the paper somewhere (I’m a packrat) and probably have a version on floppy disk. But I don’t want to explore my archives and I don’t have a floppy drive anymore. There was nothing really earth-shattering in there anyway.

I only bring it up to emphasize that I have more than a passing familiarity with Naughty Newtie. He is someone I could never vote for, but at the same time I have developed a grudging respect for his abilities.

More than any other person, Newt Gingrich is responsible for the Republican Revolution of 1994. By then I had been a Newt-watcher for nearly a decade and a half. I first remember seeing him while watching the 1980 GOP convention. At that time I was in the Army stationed in Germany. Newt was a freshman congressman running for reelection and was the leader of the “Young Turks.”

Gingrich brought to Washington, D.C., the same energy and determination that had served him well on the campaign trail. He quickly became known as one of the “Young Turks,” a group of technology-savvy, young Republican conservatives reshaping the national party. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican, was elected president, Gingrich was reelected to the House of Representatives. Though still a part of the minority party in the House, Gingrich and his allies, including Trent Lott of Mississippi, began to employ an aggressive strategy to use all available media to rail against what they believed were unfair manipulations of House rules by dominant Democrats.

Coinciding with Gingrich’s arrival in Congress, the chamber began to be televised through the C-SPAN network. Gingrich learned that any member could give a speech after the House had concluded its business for the day. The House ended its day around 9 p.m.—a time when many Americans were watching television. Gingrich began giving speeches, which were broadcast on C-SPAN, and through these speeches he was able to build a loyal following of conservatives. His popularity increased as he denounced the policies and personalities of the Democratic leadership in the House. He also formed a political action committee to aid conservatives running for Congress from across the country.

Newt put together a diabolical plan for world domination to take over Congress:

Few observers believed Gingrich when he announced that he was going to lead the Republicans in taking over the House of Representatives, but he developed a cohesive and popular agenda to do just that. The “Contract with America” was the outcome of his efforts—a ten-point plan for action that he promised to bring to a vote if the Republicans won. Republicans stated that if they were elected to lead Congress, they would work to balance the budget, repeal certain tax increases, strengthen the military, and hold a vote on term limits, among other items. Democrats criticized Gingrich for having developed the agenda solely from popular opinion polls, but Gingrich said, “What is the primary purpose of a political leader? To build a majority. If voters care about parking lots, then talk about parking lots.” With the 1994 elections the Republicans won 54 additional seats in the House and gained the majority (230 to 204), and Gingrich was poised to become Speaker.

Newt led an effort to recruit Republicans from all over the country to run for Congress. You can call the Contract on America a gimmick (it was) but it was a damn effective gimmick:

The Contract with America was introduced six weeks before the 1994 Congressional election, the first mid-term election of President Bill Clinton’s Administration, and was signed by all but two of the Republican members of the House and all of the Party’s non-incumbent Republican Congressional candidates.

Proponents say the Contract was revolutionary in its commitment to offering specific legislation for a vote, describing in detail the precise plan of the Congressional Representatives, and marked the first time since 1918 that a Congressional election had been run broadly on a national level. Furthermore, its provisions represented the view of many conservative Republicans on the issues of shrinking the size of government, promoting lower taxes and greater entrepreneurial activity, and both tort reform and welfare reform.


In a historic election, House Speaker Tom Foley (D-Washington) was defeated for re-election in his district, becoming the first Speaker of the House to fail to win re-election since the era of the American Civil War. Other major upsets included the defeat of powerful long-serving Representatives such as Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Illinois) and Judiciary Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Texas). In all, 34 incumbents (all Democrats) were defeated, though several of them (like David Price of North Carolina, Ted Strickland of Ohio, and Jay Inslee of Washington) regained seats in later elections; Maria Cantwell of Washington won a U.S. Senate race in 2000. Republicans also won some seats that were left open by retiring Democrats. Democrats won four Republican-held seats where the incumbents were stepping down (Maine, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island). Democrats who were elected in this situation included current Rhode Island congressman and Kennedy family member Patrick J. Kennedy and current Maine governor John Baldacci. No Republican incumbent lost his or her seat in 1994.

Minority whip Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia), re-elected in the Republican landslide, became Speaker (previous Minority Leader Robert H. Michel having retired). Former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) became Minority Leader. The new Republican Party (GOP) leadership in the House promised to bring a dozen legislative proposals to a vote in the first 100 days of the session, although the Senate did not always follow suit. The Republicans would remain the majority party of the House for the following 12 years, until the 110th United States Congress following the 2006 midterm elections.

Newt was Speaker for only four years before ego and ethics (too much of one and not enough of the other) brought him down. He ran roughshod over the GOP members in the House and Senate, making lots of enemies.

But that doesn’t diminish the scope of his achievements. He is a very effective politician when he is at the top of his game, and he’s got his “A” game going right now.

This is not an endorsement of Newt Gingrich. It is an assessment. Underestimate him at your peril.

One last thing:

Pelosi: I’ll reveal information on Gingrich ‘when the time is right’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is holding back some information on Republican Newt Gingrich that could detract from his presidential campaign, according to a report published Monday.

“One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich,” Pelosi told Talking Points Memo. “When the time is right. … I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff.”

What a bad bluff. Nancy is talking out her ass.

One of the things that makes Newt such a formidable candidate is the fact that his life is pretty much an open book. There are no secrets or new skeletons left to emerge. As someone recently said, his baggage is calculated into his price.

Kneel before Zod!

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44 Responses to Eye of Newt

  1. crawdad says:

    You’re doing it wrong. Didn’t you get the OFA memo?

    We’re supposed to act eager about the idea of Newt as the GOP nominee because he will be so easy to beat.

    (Unlike Romney)

  2. votermom says:

    Newt can win. And then what?

    Vamonos a Mexico, mis amigos!

  3. DandyTiger says:

    I for one welcome our new Newtonian Zod overlord.

    Yea, yea, I know I said he was the most evil person on the planet. But Newt, if you’re reading this, and you become the overlord ruler of us all, I was just kidding. I’m a kidder.

    {{seriously people, he’s evil}}

  4. votermom says:

  5. votermom says:

  6. yttik says:

    Off topic, but speaking of evil fighting evil, this made me laugh. Occupy Portland was run out last night by the real capitalists, the drug dealers, who claim the occupiers have been harming their business deals.

    Updated: Drug Dealers, Not Riot Cops, Drive Away Occupy Portland


  7. Lulu says:

    He is so much like Obama with all of the blow hard, self serving, egomaniac stuff it is alarming. If there are two candidates that could get a third party elected it is these two. The only good thing about Newt is that he has no shame and will not back off of Obama which will lead to the Democrats going after Newt and they will all look like the assholes that they are. It looks like mutual assured destruction to me.

  8. yttik says:

    I don’t understand Alec Baldwin. He’s an Obot. Why is he endorsing Romney?

    “The outspoken liberal activist who plays Republican Jack Donaghy on NBC sounded like he’d bought into the appeal of the conservative presidential candidate at the Economist Gala on Thursday night, saying, “If Romney is the nominee, we have to get behind him and support that person to be president and give him constructive criticism.”

    Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/alec_talks_like_republican_WdKQQ8YEnyHgycOPwy9tDP#ixzz1fgzhnoaD

    • DandyTiger says:

      Let’s see if we can predict this one: All the obots out there will suddenly notice he’s a nasty sexist pig and will now openly talk about it and say how you can’t take anything he says seriously. And somehow he’ll stop winning hollywood awards every year too.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Easy answer: reverse psychology. Never forget, Obots really, really, really, REALLY want Romney to be the nominee. They think it will nullify anger at Obamacare.

      It won’t, but when has reality ever stopped a progressive from dreaming?

  9. myiq2xu says:

    Newt fires back at Pelosi: Bring it on!

    Newt today said that if Pelosi wants to disclose information about himself from when she was on the ethics committee, that the House should immediately file charges against her as that is a violation of the rules of the House:

    First of all I’d like to thank Speaker Pelosi for what I regard as an early Christmas gift. If she’s suggesting she’s gonna use material she developed while she was on the ethics committee, that is a fundamental violation of the rules of the House and I would hope members would immediately file charges against her the second she does it.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I wondered about that immediately. Sounded like she was talking confidential info.

    • HELENK says:

      sorry I did not read all the way down the thread before I posted.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Nancy has now answered back. She now clarifies that everything she has to say is legal because it’s already in the public domain.

      Um, well, then it won’t be all that interesting will it Nancy?

      • djmm says:

        I think it will be interesting — not to those of us who remember just how vile Mr. Gingrich could be, but to a lot of people who were just too young to know much about him. Remember some 21 year old voters were 10 in 2000.


  10. catarina says:

    Newt today said that if Pelosi wants to disclose information about himself from when she was on the ethics committee, that the House should immediately file charges against her as that is a violation of the rules of the House:

    First of all I’d like to thank Speaker Pelosi for what I regard as an early Christmas gift. If she’s suggesting she’s gonna use material she developed while she was on the ethics committee, that is a fundamental violation of the rules of the House and I would hope members would immediately file charges against her the second she does it.


    ok, we may be in for some entertainment at the very least.

  11. yttik says:

    Here’s an alternative to the 2012 election:

    Earth-like planet discovered in ‘habitable’ zone


  12. 1539days says:

    Mitt running is Plan A for the White House. They are planning a dirty whispering campaign about perversion in the Mormon church. Plus, Bain Capital will be the bane of Romney’s existence. Then they may start some 527 groups to push his Romneycare credentials to piss off conservatives.

    Don’t be fooled. Newt is part of Plan B (or BC, if you will). Obama wants to depress the Republican vote, but he’ll take out the Democrats who oppose him if that works better. If you plan to vote ABO, they’re going to push on the Newt-hating part of your brain until pulling the lever for him would cause you physical pain. And they’ll get Bill and Hillary to help him, because they hate Newt’s ass too.

    • DandyTiger says:

      Both good plans for the GOP machine who prefers Obama. Too bad there isn’t a GOP that has other things in mind. You know, like serving the fiscally conservative, smaller government, anti-baillout agenda people of the country. Apparently the GOP machine isn’t really into all that stuff.

  13. myiq2xu says:

    Legless man denied wheelchair

    A man from Nyköping in eastern Sweden has been denied a power wheelchair despite having had both of his legs amputated as the local health authority remained “uncertain if the impairment was permanent“.

    You wimp! That’s just a flesh wound. Walk it off, punk, walk it off!

  14. DandyTiger says:

    OT: Larry King announced he wants to be frozen. Ah, the jokes write themselves. Go head, have at it. 🙂

    • LandOLincoln says:

      Poor silly mortal. Us IMmortals remember the First Law of Thermodynamics and fear not. 🙂

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