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“Discrediting The Social Safety Net”: GOP Race-Baiting Masks Class Warfare

By demonizing some, the Republicans seek to discredit the safety net for the 99 percent.

It’s commonplace to note that Newt Gingrich’s dog-whistle appellation that Barack Obama is the “food stamp president” is both racist and politically cynical. But the stereotyping of black government dependency also serves the strategic end of discrediting the entire social safety net, which most Americans of all races depend on. Black people are subtly demonized, but whites and blacks alike will suffer.

Gingrich persists because it’s a dependable applause line, and because his political fortunes keep rising. Compare that to September, when Mitt Romney attacked then-candidate Rick Perry for calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” Perry backtracked, insisting that he only wanted to bolster the program and ensure its solvency. But in his 2010 book “Fed Up,” Perry made his opposition to Social Security clear, calling it “a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.” Scrapping entitlements is a core tenet of contemporary fiscal conservatism, but most of the time politicians only get away with attacking the most vulnerable ones: Medicaid, food stamps and welfare cash assistance, which are means-tested and thus associated with the black (read: undeserving) poor, although whites make up a far greater share of food stamp recipients. Government welfare programs with Teflon political defenses — Medicare and Social Security — are nearly universal entitlements and thus associated with “regular” (read: white) Americans.

“Ending welfare as we know it,” as Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans did in 1996, is one thing. “Ending Medicare,” Republicans were last year reminded, is something else altogether. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” declared a 2009 Tea Party town hall attendee who today might very well be an ardent supporter of Gingrich’s assault on food stamps. It is a political lesson that free-market fundamentalists have to relearn with some frequency. It was only 2005,  after all, when President George W. Bush launched his ill-fated proposal to privatize Social Security — a setback he later called his greatest failure.

Yet as more government programs of any sort are framed as pernicious, laissez-faire ideologues are again emboldened to get rid of everything.

As recently as November 2009, the New York Times reported that stigma around food stamps had faded; the program received strong bipartisan support as millions of newly impoverished Americans reached out for food assistance. But temporarily cautious politicians had only stashed the old playbook on the top shelf, and the revival of welfare queen demagoguery made for quick political results. Nationwide, state legislatures are moving to impose drug testing of welfare, and even unemployment insurance, recipients.

“If you go apply for a job today, you are generally going to be drug-tested,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in October 2010. “The people that are working are paying the taxes for people on welfare. Shouldn’t the welfare people be held to the same standard?”

And and then came the push for cuts. Few noticed in April  2011 when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed cutting $127 billion from the food stamp program. The same went for the proposed dismantling of Medicaid, the healthcare entitlement for the nation’s poorest, which would be transformed into a block grant to the states with no coverage requirements.  Everyone was focused on Ryan’s audacious proposal to privatize Medicare, and conservative pundits were eager to sink the popular entitlement under the banner of pragmatic fiscal seriousness. “The Ryan budget,” David Brooks wrote at the time, “will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.”

Republicans quickly backtracked. But the effort to dismantle the “poor black people” entitlements continues unabated. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett this month announced that people under 60 with more than $2,000 in savings or other assets — cars and homes generally excluded, savings very much included — will be barred from receiving food stamps. The move elicited widespread criticism from anti-hunger advocates but little concerted political resistance. Corbett’s administration also cut 88,000 Pennsylvania children from Medicaid.

But politicians have more trouble getting away with criticism of less stigmatized benefits. Corbett suggested on the campaign trail that “The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there.” Democrats pounced and he rushed to issue a clarification, though a  conservative think tank eagerly backed up his original position.

Unemployment benefits, however, are on the political cusp: Once somewhat invincible like Social Security and Medicare, some states have made cuts amid the campaign of stigmatization.  In South Carolina, state-funded jobless benefits were reduced from 26 to 20 weeks. Republican state Sen. Kevin Bryant blogged, “I’m disappointed that we have a significant segment of our society leeching [off] the system.” Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan and Florida have also reduced benefits. Yet it was just two months ago that Republicans suffered their greatest embarrassment of 2011 after nearly blocking the extension of unemployment benefits.

Welfare was “reformed” in 1996 because politicians, and many white Americans, were convinced  the program’s beneficiaries weren’t meritorious. Indeed, the entire history of  the American safety net is one of programs losing popularity as they are associated with poor black people. Initially blacks were largely excluded from New Deal welfare. It was when the War on Poverty broke down racial barriers that white public opinion turned against it. “Increasingly associated with Black mothers already stereotyped as lazy, irresponsible, and overly fertile,” writes Northwestern School of Law’s Dorothy Roberts, “it became increasingly burdened with behavior modification, work requirements, and reduced effective benefit levels.”

The same was true for public housing, which once received broad-based support. But in the 1950s, whites moved to segregated suburbs and blacks were left behind, and the projects became unpopular and underfunded. Housing benefits for upper-income Americans, like the mortgage interest rate deduction, are not, to be sure, subject to such negative stereotypes, and neither are the billions in federal and state dollars that have been spent on highways and federally subsidized mortgages for disproportionately white homeowners.

Or take public schools. If all of our children, black and white, rich and poor, were in one big system, that system would get ample support. But since many poorer students of color are segregated into separate, unequal and low-performing districts, policy solutions like charters and an obsession over standardized testing that would never pass muster in a wealthy district are advocated as pragmatic solutions.

Count yourself lucky that rich people still (for the meantime) breathe the same air as everyone else.

Rick Santorum has declared, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” (He now says that he said “blah” people.) On Social Security, Santorum is making what appears to be a safe argument for reform: cutting rich people out of the program. Right now, Social Security belongs to everyone. Cutting rich people out is the first step to making it a program for the poor. Making something a program for the poor — see food stamps, Medicaid and welfare — is the first step toward eliminating it. While crazy Newt Gingrich talks about black people and food stamps, Mitt Romney (whom Brooks, of course, calls “serious”) resurrects a big idea: privatize  Medicare. That, of course, is why conservatives so fear single-payer universal healthcare: They know that once we got it, we would never let them take it away.

If some whites reap some cold comfort from Gingrich’s performance, the racial hostility on display comes at a much higher cost to the American people as a whole. We have long since traded the possibility of a decent society for fear and resentment. So watch out for the next attack on “the food stamp president.” The entitlement they end might be your own.


By: Daniel Denvir, Salon, January 27, 2012

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Class Warfare, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Current Crop Of GOP Liars

The wackiest candidates have dropped out but Newt, Mitt and Ron have made some outrageous claims of their own.

Americans are still struggling to come to terms with the loss they felt as the wackier GOP candidates fell by the wayside. For pure entertainment value, the mendacity they offered on the campaign trail couldn’t be beat.

Who can forget Herman Cain worrying about how China, a member of the club for almost a half-century, is now “trying to develop nuclear capability”? How can one top the convincing specificity of Michele Bachmann’s claim that on “page 92” of the healthcare reform bill, it says “people can’t purchase private health insurance after a date certain, which means people will ultimately go into a single-payer plan”? We have to admit that we’ll miss Rick Perry telling us wild tales of Obama’s totalitarianism extending to “telling us what kind of light bulb we can use.”

Those kind of bizarre untruths were like a series of small gifts for political watchers and late-night comedy writers alike. But just because some of its more colorful wheels have come flying off, that doesn’t mean the GOP clown car isn’t still moving down the road toward the November elections.

We thought we’d take a look at some of the brazen falsehoods offered up by the candidates who remain standing today.

1. Mitt Romney: No Apologies

Mitt Romney wrote a book called “No Apology,” and has repeatedly said on the campaign trail that Obama took a world tour at the beginning of his presidency to issue mea culpas to dastardly foreigners everywhere. This lie is so brazen not only because it never happened, but also because Romney uses the talking-point in speech after speech.

Ironically, as James Taub noted in the New York Times, “In a major speech in Cairo in 2005, Condoleezza Rice, then Mr. Bush’s secretary of state, said that ‘for 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither.’ What was she doing if not apologizing on behalf of the United States — and vowing to put an end to a pattern of misguided policy?”

2. Newt Gingrich: Christmas Warrior

Why should the nutjobs at Fox News have all the fun? In Davenport, Iowa, on December 19, Gingrich revealed the results of something he said he’d “been investigating … for the last three days.” What was it?

Apparently if the president sends out Christmas cards, they are paid for the Democratic or Republican National Committees because no federal official at any level is currently allowed to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ And the idea, I think, is that the government should be neutral. … I’m going to go back and find out how was this law written, when was it passed. We’ve had this whole — in my mind — very destructive attitude in the last 50 years that we have to drive religion out of public life.

Guess what? Yup – he just pulled that one out of… perhaps one of those mass emails your crazy right-wing uncle keeps forwarding you.

3. Ron Paul: New Poll Shows That Everyone Agrees With Me!

We’d guess that most Americans haven’t given much thought to Ron Paul’s quixotic quest to return the United States to the gold standard and the regular cycle of booms and crushing busts that long accompanied it.

But on January 3, Paul told his supporters, “today there was a national poll that came out and they were talking about how many people supported the gold standard. How long has it been since they’ve taken a national poll on the gold standard? And guess what? The majority of the American people believe we should have a gold standard and not a paper standard!”

Politifact asked Paul’s campaign to provide some documentation, and they were pointed to a column that referenced three polls showing slim majorities of respondents holding a favorable view of the idea, but they were polls of only Republicans and Republican leaners, and they were conducted in just three states. A real national poll, meanwhile, found that the gold standard is on the wish-list of a minority of Americans.

4. Santorum: A Dingo Is Eating Your Baby! (Or Something)

Rick Santorum is obviously a man who is fascinated with dead babies and inflammatory rhetoric.

Last March, he married the two in an attack on Obama at the Iowa Faith and Freedom conference. Speaking of a wingnutty bill that would require doctors to treat fetuses after “botched abortions,” Santorum said that Obama had opposed the measure when he was in the Illinois state senate, which was true, but then went on to claim that Obama had “said in fact that any child, prior to nine months of gestation would be able to be killed.” He added: “Think about that: any child born prematurely, according to the president, in his own words, can be killed. Now, who’s the extremist in this abortion debate?”

There are some things that shouldn’t even need to be debunked. Obviously, no politician would ever go on record saying something so crazy – that’s just common sense.

But if you really need to verify that Obama never suggested anything of the sort, here’s the fact check.

5. Romney’s Tax Fairytales

Mitt Romney said he wouldn’t release his returns, then he said he’d release them in April and then Newt Gingrich gave him a hard time and he folded. It’s courage like that which makes one wonder how he’d deal with North Korea.

Anyway, the returns show that the “unemployed” candidate made over $40 million in 2010 and 2011, and paid 13.9 percent in taxes on those sums. A paltry figure, and Romney is responding to the criticism he’s received on the topic with two age-old and wholly dishonest conservative talking-points, and an additional sleight-of-hand, all rolled into one juicy bundle of mendacity.

Via Think Progress, this is what he told Univision’s Jorge Ramos in an interview this week:

ROMNEY: One of the reasons why we have a lower tax rate on capital gains is because capital gains are also being taxed at the corporate level. So as businesses earn profits, that’s taxed at 35 percent, then as they distribute those profits as dividends, that’s taxed at 15 percent more. So, all total, the tax rate is really closer to 45 or 50 percent.

RAMOS: But is it fair what you pay, 13 percent, while most pay much more than that?

ROMNEY: Well, again, I go back to the point that the, that the funds are being taxed twice at two different levels.

Mendacious talking point, the first: “double-taxation.” We don’t tax “funds” in this country, we tax transactions. If a company turns a profit on its transactions, it pays taxes on that profit. When it pays money out to investors as dividends, or when investors sell stock at a profit, those transactions are also taxed. No transaction is taxed twice.

Mendacious talking point, the second: that 35 percent tax rate. That’s the top corporate tax rate on the books, but because businesses take advantage of all manner of loopholes, the effective rate – what they actually pay — is actually far lower. It’s a classic conservative talking-point that we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, but the reality is that we collect less in corporate taxes than most developed countries. Studies of some of the biggest companies have shown their effective tax rates to be, on average, less than half of what’s on the books.

And the sleight-of-hand: Bain Capital is a Limited Liability Company. This is what’s known as a “pass-through” structure, meaning that the company pays zero in corporate income taxes – the partners’ shares are taxed as income or losses on their personal returns, and in this case, most of the gains are investment income taxed at 15 percent.

In other words, even if we bought the “double-taxation” nonsense and the 35 percent rate, his talking-point still wouldn’t be true.

6. “Nancy Pelosi May Destroy the Entire Gop With a Single Wave of Her Wand”

That headline is borrowed from Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent, who reports on a dark conspiracy theory Mitt Romney has embraced to argue that Newt Gingrich is unelectable.

Sargent explains:

There seems to be a very persistent belief in some Republican and conservative circles that Nancy Pelosi is in possession of secret and damning information about Newt Gingrich that would immediately cause his presidential campaign to implode if she leaked it.

A little while ago, Pelosi said in an interview that she was familiar with “a thousand pages” of documents related to the ethics probe of Gingrich that got him bounced from Congress. That triggered the first round of right-wing conspiracy-mongering….

But, alas, she was just talking about the House Ethics Committee’s report on Gingrich’s corruption, which is already widely available. In fact, if you want to read Pelosi’s “secret” treasure-trove of damning info, it’s available online right here!

7: Gingrich: Conservative Republicans Are Secret Liberals

Speaking of which, Newt himself is offering a big lie about his ethics troubles. He said this week that he’d been wholly exonerated in the investigation – an odd claim given that he was sanctioned by the House and it fined him $300,000 to cover the costs of the investigation.

Perhaps that’s not as bad as the fib he offered gullible Fox News viewers in December. Gingrich told Greta Van Susteren that the House Ethics Committee (then called the Standards of Official Conduct Committee), “was a very partisan political committee and that the way I was dealt with related more to the politics of the Democratic Party than to ethics. And I think in that sense, [the campaign issue] actually helps me in getting people to understand, this was a Nancy Pelosi-driven effort.”

But, as Politifact noted in awarding Gingrich a “pants on fire” for the claim, three of the four Republicans on the committee voted to recommend that Gingrich be sanctioned, and then the “full House went on to pass the ethics report 395 to 28, with 196 Republicans voting for it and just 26 voting against it.”

8. Newt Lies About Food Stamps

Gingrich lies shamelessly about food stamps – it makes him look hip with the Ayn Rand crowd. He has said, repeatedly, that “more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.” And while it’s true that the overall number of folks receiving nutritional assistance is at an all-time high, thanks to a crushing recession, Gingrich’s claim is simply false: 444,574 more people were added to the program under Bush than during Obama’s term.

But that one may not be as brazen as a claim he made in November in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “We now give [benefits] away as cash,” he said. “You don’t get food stamps. You get a credit card, and the credit card can be used for anything. We have people who take their food stamp money and use it to go to Hawaii. They give food stamps now to millionaires because, after all, don’t you want to be compassionate?”

This is just silly. According to the USDA’s rules, “households can use benefits to buy groceries or to buy seeds and plants which produce food. (In some places where subsistence fishing is the norm, such as remote areas of Alaska, recipients can also pay for nets, hooks, fishing line, rods, harpoons and knives.) And in some areas, restaurants can be authorized to accept SNAP benefits from qualified homeless, elderly, or disabled people in exchange for low-cost meals.”

As for the millionaires, no again. To be eligible for benefits a family can’t be earning more than 30 percent over the poverty line.

9. How Many Jobs Plans Have the GOP Blocked?

During a January 16 debate, Mitt Romney said of Obama, “Three years into office, he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”

We’re guessing this will be an oft-repeated talking point as the campaign progresses. It’s also a brazen bit of historical revisionism. As the AP notes, “Like them or not, Obama has proposed several plans intended to spur the economy and create jobs.”

From the stimulus to the payroll tax deal, Obama’s offered all sorts of plans that the GOP, eager to go into the election with a sluggish economy, has blocked. The most recent of these, as the AP notes, was offered just a few months ago:

In September, Obama introduced his most recent jobs plan, rolling it out in a speech to the full Congress in which he urged Congress to “pass it right away.” It included $450 billion in tax cuts and new spending, including greater cuts to payroll taxes and tax breaks for companies that hire those who’ve been out of work for six months or more. Almost none of it has been passed into law.

10. Romney’s Mythical War on Religion

Romney’s got a little problem: many of the evangelicals who have long served as the foot-soldiers in GOP campaigns really, really hate Mormons. So, Mitt’s trying desperately to shore up support by showing that he’s as dedicated to the culture wars as any good American right-winger.

Here’s what he said on a conference call with Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition on Wednesday:

Then of course there’s the assault on religion….now he’s gone forward and said that religious institutions, universities, hospitals and so forth, religious institutions have to provide free contraceptives to all their employees, even if that religious institution is opposed to the use of contraception, as in the case of the Catholic Church. Even in that regard, fighting to eliminate the conscience clause for healthcare workers who wish not to provide abortion services or contraceptives in their workplace, in their hospital for instance. It’s an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.

There’s been an assault on marriage. I think he is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage.

Two problems here. First, much to the frustration of his LGBT supporters, Obama doesn’t favor gay marriage. Second, as Igor Volsky (who reported Romney’s comments for Think Progress) notes, “Federal regulations contain clear provisions in three separate laws shielding federally funded healthcare providers’ right of conscience.”

For instance, the1976 Church Amendment “prevents the government (as a condition of a federal grant) from requiring healthcare providers or institutions to perform or assist in abortion or sterilization procedures against their moral or religious convictions,” the Coats Amendment of 1996 prohibits the government from “discriminating” against medical residency programs or other entities that lose accreditation because they fail to provide or require training in abortion services” and the Hyde/Weldon Conscience Protection Amendment of 2004 “forbids federal, state and local governments from requiring any individual or institutional provider or payer to perform, provide, refer for, or pay for an abortion.”

These “conscience clauses” are also enshrined in Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act. So, thankfully, the Christian majority remains just as un-oppressed today as it has been in the past.


By: Joshua Holland, Alternet, Published in Salon, January 27, 2012

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Greed Is Good?”: The GOP Seems To Be Okay With That

If you heard a loud “gulp” Tuesday night after President Obama’s State of the Union address, it probably came from Republican political strategists as they realized their party’s odds of capturing the White House this fall are getting longer. Obama may be no Ronald Reagan, but he’s no Jimmy Carter, either.

The obligatory list of accomplishments and initiatives was embellished with bits and pieces of what will likely be Obama’s standard campaign speech. At the heart of his argument for a second term is his assertion that the American dream of upward mobility has been hijacked — that the rich and the powerful have rigged our economic and political systems to favor their interests over those of the average citizen.

Obama sounded this theme several times, perhaps most effectively when he decried policies that allow billionaire Warren Buffett to pay a lower income-tax rate than does his longtime secretary, Debbie Bosanek, who sat with first lady Michelle Obama in her box Tuesday night:

“We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit or somebody else has to make up the difference — like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet.

“That’s not right. Americans know that’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility.”

There are some Republicans who can’t wait to take the issue of Buffett’s tax rate vs. Bosanek’s head-on. They are eager to argue that one of the world’s richest men deserves to pay a lower rate because his income derives from job-creating investments. These Republicans presumably consider his secretary a mere salaried employee who spends her money on such fripperies as, you know, food, shelter, clothing and transportation.

“The issue I think that’s going to play out this election is that question of Warren Buffett’s secretary,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Wednesday on CNN. “We want her to make more money, we want her to have more hope for the future. . . . [But] this notion that somehow the income that Warren Buffett makes is the same as a wage income for his secretary, we know that’s not the same.”

In other words, it’s not just that the rich are better than the rest of us but also that their money is better than our money.

Is this really an argument the Republican presidential nominee is going to make? Not in so many words, surely. Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum seem to understand that taking Cantor’s line would constitute political malpractice.

Mitt Romney may get it, too, but he has little room to maneuver. Romney’s wealth must be very special, indeed, to deserve vacations in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, where he likes to park his money. But I digress.

Perhaps more of a political problem, from the GOP’s point of view, is Obama’s riff on shared responsibility. Republicans seem eager to double down on a “greed is good” ethos that has more resonance when the economy is booming, real estate values are soaring and everybody feels rich. Obama, by contrast, envisions a return to an America where the successful and fortunate lend a helping hand to those down on their luck, rather than coldly leave them behind. This seems much more in tune with the times.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, delivering the Republican response, offered an alternative that many voters might find cogent and unthreatening. He didn’t provide a lot of new ideas — basically, Daniels supports the same laissez-faire policies that got us into this crisis — but at least he didn’t sound like some kind of Ayn Rand acolyte who believes that economic Darwinism must always be allowed to run its course.

Daniels isn’t running for president, though, and the pragmatic conservatism he described — one that imagines a role for government — is out of touch with the radicalism that dominates his party. The Republicans who are running the party laugh at the concepts of fairness and collective responsibility. Soon they may find the joke’s on them.


By: Eugene Robinson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 26, 2012

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Conservative Backlash Against Newt Gingrich

In a political season known for its twists and turns, this week’s  twist was pretty amazing to watch: the conservative take-down of former House Speaker Newt  Gingrich. In the wake of his big win in  South Carolina, the backlash began this week.  There are some who believe all of this was orchestrated by the Romney  campaign, but I’m not so sure. It’s not  clear to me that the conservative movement likes former Gov. Mitt Romney, either. I don’t buy into the conspiracy—former Gov. Sarah  Palin says the “establishment”  is trying to “crucify” Gingrich, as she defended the First Dude’s endorsement  of Newt—I just think that conservatives who have never liked Speaker  Gingrich but have been holding their tongues suddenly realized that he might  actually have a shot at the nomination.  This week, there was a Speak-Now-or-Forever-Hold-Your-Peace moment. Forever holding one’s peace didn’t look like  a good idea anymore.

The anti-Newt arguments aimed at grassroots conservative voters  came  in rapid fire. Three were  particularly persuasive, and the first of  those was from George Will. If you believe that we need Gingrich because  he’ll beat President Obama in the fall debates, you need to read this:

Just 11 days after finishing fourth in  New Hampshire, Gingrich’s  pugnacity in two debates enraptured South  Carolinians, especially when  he waxed indignant about the supposition that the  risk-taking in his  personal life–e.g., having an affair during an  indignation festival  against Bill Clinton–is pertinent to his fitness for  the presidency.  Gingrich encourages Republican voters to believe he should be   nominated because he would do best in the (at most) three debates with  Barack  Obama. So, because Gingrich might sparkle during four and a half  hours of  debates, he should be given four years of control of nuclear  weapons? Odd.

The second came from former Assistant Secretary of State Eliott   Abrams, who was President Reagan’s point man on fighting the Sandinistas  in the  1980s. In the National Review  this week, Abrams recounted  his personal experience with Gingrich, who  opposed Abrams and  the Reagan administration on fighting the Soviets; he then  names other  members of Congress who were far more supportive of Reagan, namely   Reps. Henry Hyde, Dick Cheney, Dan Burton, Connie Mack, and Tom Delay;  and then ends  by quoting Gingrich insulting Reagan in a 1980s-era floor  statement, all to  devastating effect.

As a new member of Congress in the  Reagan years — and I was an  assistant secretary of state — Mr. Gingrich voted  with the president  regularly, but equally often spewed insulting rhetoric at  Reagan, his  top aides, and his policies to defeat Communism. Gingrich was  voluble  and certain in predicting that Reagan’s policies would fail, and in all   of this he was dead wrong.

The third hit came from R. Emmet Tyrrell,  the former publisher of the conservative American Spectator  magazine. If you  believe that we need Newt Gingrich as our nominee  because of his big ideas and above-average intelligence, you  need to  read “William Jefferson Gingrich” by Tyrrell. He compares the former  president and the  former speaker, after admitting that he first noticed  nearly two decades ago  that “Newt Gingrich is conservatism’s Bill  Clinton, but without the charm”:

Newt and Bill, as 1960s generation  self-promoters, share the same  duplicity, ostentatious braininess, a propensity  for endless scrapes  with propriety and the law. They are tireless hustlers. Now  Newt is  hustling my fellow conservatives in this election. The last time around   he successfully hustled conservatives in the House of Representatives  and then  the conservatives on the House impeachment committee.

So the three biggest attributes that Gingrich supporters point to  as  evidence of his electability—his skill in debates, his support of   Reaganism, and his intellectual prowess—were eviscerated not by  moderates  aligned with Romney but by the most widely-read conservative  columnist,  a  former high-level Reagan official, and one of the most  popular conservative  publishers of the last two decades.  These weren’t  the only ones to come forward this week; there were others  as  well. The tide is turning against  Newt Gingrich, and in any other  election year, I’d say if he loses Florida,  Gingrich is probably  finished. He’s  taken a big hit from conservatives on the right. But  this isn’t any normal election year, and  who knows where we’ll be even a  week from now.  Stay tuned.


By: Mary Kate Cary, U. S. News and World Report, January 27, 2012

January 28, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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