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Newt: Champion of Moderation

A November 1st article appearing in The New American wondered if Newt Gingrich was the next “Anti-Romney” or simply just “The Other Romney.” A review of the past decade of Newt’s public efforts, described in that column, clearly builds the case that he is much closer to the latter. A poor campaign start and a mass staff exodus led Newt to be written off months ago. But with an oratory skill that was severely lacking in Rick Perry and the ability to have a well-reasoned, articulate answer to any question, a skill missing in most of the field, Newt has been able to move into the top-tier of candidates. But who is Newt Gingrich?

Read the left, and you might be led to believe that Gingrich is a rabid right-winger, out to unleash a whirlwind of evil conservatism on the country. On the heels of a number of impressive debates, conservatives are starting to reconsider the former House Speaker as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. Romney, with a past that includes support for socialist medicine, abortion, and fill-in-the-liberal-policy-blank, has wrapped up the the slot as “establishment candidate.” Enter Newt, the latest anti-Romney. Or so some think.

Since leaving office, the real Newt has been real elusive. He puts party over principle and political viability over conservative conviction. He refuses to take stances on big issues until the outcome is known. Some would say he is “practical” or, perhaps, compassionate. Others might say he is a conservative coward. At best, Newt is a hybrid Dubya-Clinton politician: He has the political instincts, policy-nerd intellect, and debate presence of Bill Clinton, yet the mushy conservatism of George W. Bush. He is innovative, but not bold. He proposes ideas that don’t push conservatism, but moderation.  He favors big tent over big results. He is not a conservative of conviction, but a conservative of convenience. Newt’s skill is that he holds moderate views, but drowns out those details by seeing how many times he can say “free-market solutions” and “Reagan” and “liberal extremists.”

During the 2004 Republican Convention, Business Insider called Gingrich the GOP “centrists’ newest champion.” At a forum with a centrist GOP group, Newt declared: “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve argued in favor of electing the moderates.” Discussing Conservative groups who aimed to challenge liberal Republicans like Arlen Specter during the 2004 cycle, Newt went on: “”The key is to elect more Republicans and have a bigger majority and be more inclusive.” With the help of “Conservatives” with this mindset like Newt and then-President Bush, Specter was able to barely defeat his conservative primary challenger Pat Toomey in 2004. Five years later, Specter would cast the deciding vote in Obamacare – as a Democrat. This party-over-principle mindset would become all too apparent in future election cycles.

Recent elections have shown how empty Newt’s conservative backbone is. In 2009, he declared it a “mistake” for tea party groups and conservative leaders like Sarah Palin to try to replace moderate republicans with conservative ones. His argument could make sense in states like Massachusetts, where conservative victories are rare. But he was especially verbal when, as Newt called the Tea Party at the time, the “militant wing” went after Utah Sen.  Bennett. While not the worst offender, Bennett is not as conservative a voice as such a solid red state deserves. There was little question that any Republican would win that seat, so why not get the most conservative one you could find?

Newt’s conservative cowardism was apparent in a number of other 2010 races as well. Supporting Pat Toomey in PA and Marco Rubio in FL during the 2010 cycle were no brainers for most conservatives. But Newt, who has an opinion on everything, remained “neutral” as the conservative stars fought against soon-to-sell-out candidates Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist. But Newt was unwilling to risk going against two big names in two important states. After all, if Specter and Crist were to win, who better for them to support than Mr. Moderate, Captain No-Labels himself should he run for office himself a few years later?  While he did not publicly back Specter and Crist, his pro-moderate, anti-incumbent-challenger statements made that case clear enough. He finally summoned the courage to back Marco Rubio when Crist announced he was leaving the party. How bold.

Most infamously, Newt gave his support to DeDe Scozzafava in a 2009 congressional special election to replace an outgoing Republican. Why? Because she was a Republican and the GOP is a big tent, okay people! The establishment hand-picked nominee was so unacceptable that conservative leaders such as Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, and Tim Pawlenty backed a 3rd party challenger who had a shot at winning. Scozzafava wasn’t just a slightly moderate Republican. She was a Republican who supported abortion, gay marriage, Obamacare, federal funding for abortion, Obama’s outrageous 2009 stimulus package and received the endorsements of New York’s largest teacher’s union and far-left blogfest Daily Kos. She was also the proud recipient of Planned Parenthood awards.

Newt Gingrich endorsements during contested elections are few and far between. So his support of Scozzafava was especially odd. Again, his main point was: The GOP has to be a big tent and we have to support moderates and liberals, no matter how extreme they are, as long as they have an R next to their name. Usually, Newt sits on the sideline, waiting for the dust to settle before endorsing a candidate. I could find no instance where Newt supported a Tea Party candidate before a primary victory. And there were a lot to choose from.

Newt’s mushy moderation principles puts him directly at odds with tea party groups, Regean Warriors, and, generally speaking, most conservatives. This is a guy who would be more comfortable electing liberals like Arlen Specter, Lisa Murkowsi, Charlie Crist, Olympia Snowe, and Susan Collins over Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Palinistas, or Reaganites.

But Newt’s Mushy Moderation goes beyond who he supports for elected office. Likewise, Newt has spent the last decade refusing to come down on the side of conservatism over liberalism. Most often, he goes for the moderate answer: He accepts basic liberal premises on global warming, immigration, education, health care, and entitlements and thinks he is great because he puts a slightly more conservative spin on liberal goals. But when it comes down to it, he rarely chooses to side with conservatives unless the issue has been proven overwhelming popular with voters at large. Where’s the conservative back-bone?

* * * * * * * *

Newt’s Moderate Policy ways (I’ll provide links to the best pieces below. No need to restate what’s been stated (and oft forgotten) before.

Rockefeller Republican:Robert Novak described Newt as a Rockefeller Republican who simply adopted “the maxim that the business of the opposition was to oppose.” That Newt was moderate before becoming a “Reagan Republican” (mainly as it became popular to do so). Finally, Novak noted that Newt was never comfortable as a big-time right-winger and “was regressing to his Rockefeller Republican roots after less than seven months as Speaker” and “abandoning the Republican base.” Reportedly, Newt worked as a regional director for the liberal, pro-abortion left-wing Rockefeller in the 60s over more conservative Republicans (at least he is consistent).

* * * * * * * *

(MUST READ) Chameleon: This piece stuck with me when I first read it back in March and had me beginning my deeper look into Newt. Yes, it is written by a Democrat who was a Republican in the 1970s and worked with Newt. Neither a current competitor nor someone who took Newt as a serious Presidential contender at the time of writing the piece, but someone who found Newt’s political triangulation fascinating. But it is pretty much right on with Newt’s long history of… being a chameleon. From the piece:

Transformer Newt: “Having carefully watched Gingrich up close since he was a Rockefeller Republican in the 1970s, I also know that he is a master of tactical reinvention: a microcosm of the modern Republican Party contained in one complicated man. And at least superficially, he seems to have transmuted himself into exactly what the lost Tea Party Republican is yearning for this election cycle.”

Gingrich runs to the left of Conservative Democrat opponent in first two Congressional runs: “Unlike many Georgia Republicans who sought to out-flank Dixiecrats by coming across as better-bred right-wing extremists, Gingrich ran to (Democrat Opponent) Flynt’s left, emphasizing environmentalist and “reform” themes, and enlisting significant support from liberal Democrats.”

Final assessment: “Everything we know about the adaptable Gingrich tells us that he will bend over backwards to give Republican audiences what they want, whether or not it comports with what he was saying the day before yesterday. In this strange environment, that might be all that’s necessary.”

* * * * * * * *

Medicare Reform: Newt strongly opposed Paul Ryan’s “radical” entitlement reforms. Then apologized. And then backed them again. Then said they went to far. Then said they didn’t. He said he wouldn’t support. And that he would vote for it. (All of this changed depending on who was mad at him at the time. Anyone know where he stands now? Good luck finding out.

Then, on behalf of President Bush, Newt Pushes $400 Billion unfunded Prescription Bill plan to skeptical conservatives. Joins AARP in calling for passage against conservative opposition.

* * * * * * * *

Big Government Environmentalism: Newt’s disguised liberalism on the environment can be unburied piece by piece. He calls for carbon trading schemes, and big government solutions one day, and leads chants in “drill here, drill now” the next. The ONLY thing that makes Newt different from radical environmentalists is 1) he doesn’t aim to scare people into believing the world is going to turn into a ball of fire. In a debate with john Kerry, he claimed to agree with 60% of what Kerry believed in his Environment book, only Newt would use the word “conservative” more.

PBS Interview, 2007: Newt: “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.”

Newt then goes on to say he wish Bush had implemented three things: “Mandatory (Carbon) caps, a trading system inside the caps, as we have with clean air, and a tax incentive to be able to invest in the new technology and to be able to produce the new technology — I think we would be much better off than we are in the current situation.”

Newts Agenda in his own words can be read at the link: A quick read looks good. He drops the words “conservative” and “Reagan” and talks about how wacky liberals are. But his solutions aren’t much different than what a President Obama would support: Carbon Trade Schemes, “incentives” and “tax credits” for production of high-MPG vehicles (sound familiar? Like for the Leaf, Prius, Cash-for-Clunkers etc. Those tax credits?), and a “government-led scientific” team (Can you hear the green shifting from your wallet yet?)

Lest we forget. Newt also has lobbied for ethanol subsidies and is a big proponent of keeping them going. Oh, then sat on some chair with some lady, but I can’t remember who.

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Newt favored  restoring Food Stamps and other welfare benefits to hundreds of thousand of non-residents, costing the government over $1 billion.Who first ended it? Newt Gingrich.

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As Drudge Would say… DEVELOPING …..

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Categories: General
  1. Stan H.
    November 17, 2011 at 6:20 am

    His support for Scozzofava in ny was unforgiveable…

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