Not Newt

If you're looking for a profligate authoritarian, Gingrich is your man.

The first time Newt Gingrich disgusted me was in 1995, when the freshly installed speaker of the House proposed the death penalty for drug smugglers. Fifteen years later, I had a similar response when Gingrich demanded government action to stop Muslims from building a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.

From the perspective of someone who wants to minimize the role of government in every aspect of our lives, Gingrich is bad in the ways conservatives tend to be bad—and then some. At the same time, he is generally not good in the ways conservatives tend to be good, which makes me wonder why anyone would prefer him to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate.

Gingrich's bloodthirsty enthusiasm for the never-ending, always-failing war on drugs is especially appalling because he casually dismissed his own pot smoking as "a sign that we were alive and in graduate school in that era." Last month he expressed admiration for Singapore's drug policy, which includes forcible testing of suspected drug users, long prison sentences for possession, and mandatory execution of anyone caught with more than a specified amount. "They've been very draconian," Gingrich said, meaning it as a compliment.

Last year Gingrich likewise put his characteristically reckless spin on criticism of the "Ground Zero mosque." Unlike Sarah Palin, who urged the project's supporters not to build it but conceded they had a constitutional right to do so, Gingrich insisted "there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia"—and called for state or federal intervention to enforce that arbitrary edict. He nevertheless presents himself as a champion of religious liberty.

Gingrich's apocalyptic view of the "long war" between "the modern world" and "radical Islamism" also has led him to endorse censorship and warrantless domestic wiretaps, along with the suspension of due process that many conservatives think is appropriate whenever the president cries "national security." And lest such constitutional violations be overturned, Gingrich recommends that Congress abolish the courts of judges who reach decisions it does not like, or simply declare its acts exempt from judicial review.

Aside from the Second Amendment, Gingrich does not seem to have much regard for the Bill of Rights, and that includes the 10th Amendment, which reflects the Framers' intent that the federal government have only those powers expressly granted by the Constitution, the rest being "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." At Saturday's Republican presidential debate, Gingrich said one of his rivals, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, "got me engaged about three years ago on this whole 10th Amendment in a big, serious way."

By his own account, then, Gingrich, who served more than two decades in Congress and brags about his credentials as an historian, did not begin to think seriously about the limits that federalism imposes on the national government until 2008. That may explain why he did not realize until this year that a law requiring people to buy health insurance exceeds Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause.

Gingrich's lack of familiarity with "this whole 10th Amendment" may also explain his detailed policy recommendations for education, an area where the federal government has no constitutional authority. Not to mention his defense of government-funded moon bases and Mars missions as ways to "give young people a reason to study science and math and technology."

Constitutional issues aside, Gingrich's tendency to think government should subsidize whatever strikes his fancy, whether it's extraterrestrial colonies, prescription drugs, or alternative energy sources, does not inspire confidence in his alleged fiscal conservatism. On that point the most damning comment I've seen recently came from New York Times columnist David Brooks. Last week Brooks, a "national greatness" conservative who believes "energetic government is good for its own sake," wrote that Gingrich "has no Hayekian modesty to restrain his faith in statist endeavor" and therefore "loves government more than I do." Yikes.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist. Follow him on Twitter.

© Copyright 2011 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • hazeeran||

    Gingrich's bloodthirsty enthusiasm for the never-ending, always-failing war on drugs is especially appalling because he casually dismissed his own pot smoking as "a sign that we were alive and in graduate school in that era."

    Fuck him, my blood is boiling reading that.

  • hazeeran||

    The fucking nerve: "Hey, I was young so it's okay, but a grad student today should have his house busted in if he has roaches and be executed if he drives across town and sells them."

  • Fluffy||

    I did not know this.

    Thank you for giving me another reason to hate the bastard.

  • Barack Obama||

    Let me be clear.

    Despite our many differences, I am in agreement with the Speaker on this issue.

  • silver haze||

    Also, didn't he propose the death penalty for importing 2 ounces of marijuana? So about that time I remember mexican brick weed selling for about $50 per ounce (and my connections were not too good). That's at retail, so lets say the importer got it half price at $25 per ounce.

    Therefore Newt wanted to kill Americans that imported about $50 worth of shitty weed.

  • silver haze||

    For future reference, it's also important to note that the bill, H.R. 4170: Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996, was cosponsored by Bob Barr.

  • ||

    hence that jokester should never have made it onto the libertarian ticket

  • ||

    But Barr was at least a serious libertarian candidate and this is the reason that kochs donated to Bob Barr and Romney and not Ron Paul.

  • TANSTAAFLusa||

    Yeah, Ive read some things about the Kochs not liking Ron Paul. What is that all about anyway?

  • ||

    From what I understand,it has something to do with Murray Rothbard, and the Koch brothers. Libertarian political b.s. That's why Rothbard left the CATO Institute, and founded the Von Mises Institute.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Obama's drug policy sucks ferret cock, as well. But thanks for the Newt reminder.

  • Realist||

    Gingrich's bloodthirsty enthusiasm for a never-ending, always-failing war is especially appalling. He is a warmonger like McCain. He said he wants John Bolton as Secretary of State. That should really help the demise of the US.

  • Ken||

    Look, you're not being fair. Yes, Michael Bolton's music sucks. Yes, he's a jackass. Yes, his hair's evolution is nauseating. But he's as capable as any musician of pursuing America's global interests in ...

    Wait a minute. JOHN Bolton? Jesus. That's ridiculous.

  • fish||

    Again, why would Gingrich be better than the empty suit currently holding the job?

  • WTF||

    Since Newcular would likely have a GOP congress to do his bidding, he would actually be worse. At least a second Obama term would result in some gridlock.

  • invisible furry hand||

    Better cleavage?

  • Miley Cyrus||

  • protefeed||

    Obama / Newt / Mitt are all about equally awful, from my perspective. Perhaps the two Rs would be less profligate spenders than Obama, have somewhat less than trillion dollar annual budget deficits, if the Ds held onto the Senate and acted as a brake on their spending dreams, or even just held onto 40+ seats and used their power to filibuster to reign in the Rs.

  • invisible furry hand||

    But what about Newc-T's ADHD? Even if he attempts to implement only 10% of his off-the-cuff ideas, that's a lot of money spunked away on authoritarian / visionary / bat-shit crazy stuff. On the other hand it might distract him from trying to meddle with anything he could break...

  • protefeed||

    Batshit crazy, to be implemented, needs 40+ votes in the Senate. Which, for a brief window, prevailed and allowed Obamacare to be enacted.

    My guess is that Newt or Mitt, try as they might, would be unable to run up trillion-dollar deficits like Obama because the Ds would fight some of their spending proposals.

  • Loki||

    I thought you needed 60+ votes to get "batshit crazy" through the senate. Unless of course the batshit crazy is attached as an emendment to a spending bill, then you only need 50+.

  • Realist||

    The dickhead called Newt would butt fuck this country blind!

  • JohnD||

    You people are fools. Any GOP candidate would be better than Obama.
    I'll take Newt over Obama any day.

  • ||

    they're big govt, both of them. praying paul joins gary johnson on the libertarian ticket

  • ||

    Think of it this way. Obama will still have a republican congress (and possibly Senate). Gingrich will have a republican congress (and possibly Senate).

    I'll take gridloack before I take red team socialism.

  • asdf||

    This. Minute Newt or Mitt were president all republican opposition to spending would conveniently evaporate again.

  • ||

    Gridlock is a dangerous thing to try to vote for. The seeds for the unified Dem govt of 2009-10 were laid by the Dem takeover of Congress in 2006, which many libertarians were promoting as "gridlock".

  • ||

    Any GOP candidate has two advantages over Obama:

    (1) Judicial appointments.

    (2) Not engaging in dictatorship via regulatory agency.

    Whether these are sufficient, I leave to your good judgment.

  • ||

    It's the SCOTUS appointments most of all that make me think we're going to have to accept a unified government for a little while. We simply cannot risk another Obama appointment to the bench. The guys on the right suck, too, but they at least occasionally think the state should have limits, kinda sorta.

  • Realist||

    "The guys on the right suck, too, but they at least occasionally think the state should have limits, kinda sorta."
    They "think" only....never do.

  • Realist||

    "I'll take Newt over Obama any day."
    I'll take Paul over them all.
    That is who I will vote for.

  • ||

    It is not that simple. Obama is likely to hasten and deepen the depression. That could lead to a swing back to the right if it's solidly tied to Obama which it would be if he had two terms.

    Similarly if Newt comes in and doesn't stop a crash, which he can't because he is economically ignorant, and anywise loves to spend, it will be a much muddier situation.

    Toss in Newts fanboi'ness about the PATRIOT act the the rest of the fascist state apparatus and I'm thinking maybe Obama is better.

  • ||

    Couldn't agree more. Plus, what with unheard of military spending and new wars added to the mix, I'd love to know just how people assume Newclear is gonna reign in spending.

  • ||

    But Tony Blankley told me his former boss is the best man for the job.

  • ||

    "which makes me wonder why anyone would prefer him to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate."

    I wonder the same thing, this cosmotarian journal is doing a great job of explaining our choice between the only two serious candidates.

  • ||

    Yes, I demand more articles about Hunstman!

  • Rich||

    That's *John* Hunstman, I presume?

  • ||

    John Coctostan.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Mr. Poon.

  • ||

    Dr. Rosenpenis.

  • ||

    Koch supports Romney right?

  • Fluffy||

    I think we need to offer a toast, despite the early morning hour, to Ron Paul, for his recent tireless efforts to destroy this S.O.B.

    DRINK

  • WTF||

    HEAR HEAR!

  • protefeed||

    I'll have to pass, since I need to drive my daughter in to school in a few hours (3:22 AM Hawaii time right now).

  • Newt Gingrich||

    I've been drinking ever since I heard the poll results.

  • protefeed's daughter||

    I'll have it, since my dad is driving me to school in a few hours.
    How many times can a girl hear: boys lie; I did when I was there age

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It need not be alcohol. You could imbibe some Ron Paul energy drink - it doesn't pick you up, because you should pick yourself up, and a month's supply is worth a gold piece.

  • ||

    Brawndo?

  • ||

    It's got electrolytes!

  • ||

    Agreed. I'm sure Mitt appreciates his service.

    One thing I just remembered: Paul and Mitt have never butted heads, either at the debates or via the airwaves. Paul got into back-and-forths with Rudy, McCain, Huck, and Thompson last campaign during the debates, and got into it with Perry, Cain, Santorum, and Gingrich in this one.

  • jacob||

    [raises glass, then sloppy gulps it down, spilling a bit on monocle and lapel]

  • Tim||

    Newt Gingrich: Asshole

  • ||

    Sadly, no. The asshole, reviled though it is, passes shit *out* of the body.
    Newt seems to exists solely to import shit directly into the body [politic].

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  • BradK||

    Sociopath with delusions of grandeur would be more specific. But asshole works as well.

  • 35N4P2BYY||

    When you are talking politicians, sociopath with delusions of grandeur is probably still a but to general.

  • Almanian||

    TIMMEH!

  • protefeed||

    This is what passes for a "conservative" in the NYT:

    "It’s really too bad. We could have had a great debate about the progressive-conservative tradition. President Obama is now embracing Roosevelt. Gingrich has tried to modernize this tendency.

    But how you believe something is as important as what you believe. It doesn’t matter if a person shares your overall philosophy. If that person doesn’t have the right temperament and character, stay away."

  • ||

    They both embrace Roosevelt. Fun game, guess which one?

  • ||

    Chet?

  • ||

    Can't it be both?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    For the first time in his adult life, Newt Gingrich is proud of his 10th Amendment.

  • ||

    Aside from his shameless pandering and naked groveling for the NRA endorsement to help his nomination run, have we seen ANYTHING from Newtie that would lend credence to the theory that he pays the Second Amendment anything other than empty lip-service?

  • Newtie||

    Oh, very well. Drug dealers get the firing squad.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And I'll go back in time to shoot my dealer.

  • JohnD||

    That would be a good start.

  • GILMORE||

    which makes me wonder why anyone would prefer him to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate

    i think it has something to do with not being mitch romney

    and an incredible lack of interest in further details.

  • Newt Fan||

    I think he did the groundbreaking "Contract with America", he's not afraid to shut down the government, and he has white hair.

  • ||

    I think Newt was terrified about shutting down the government and had to have a spinal injection from his fellow conservatives before he followed through on his threat.

  • ||

    No, no, no--the current spin is that it was wrong to shut down the government and that Newt did it as a tantrum because Clinton wouldn't let him ride in Air Force One.

    Keep up, will you?

  • ||

    Er, there is in fact a "long war" between "the modern world" and Islam. Not declared, btw, by the modern world but by the stone age primitives in the Quran (9:5, and many other passages), the sunnah, and by longstanding Islamic jurisprudence.

    Unfortunately too many Muslims still believe that these injunctions have relevance today.

    Is Sullum oblivious to all this?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If by "too many" you mean "more than zero," you are right.

    And by saying there a war between "Islam" as a whole and the modern world, you're following the line that *real* Muslims will want to fight the U.S., or else they're being inauthentic.

    Everyone who says that true Muslims must follow the path of jihadist violence is simply endorsing those like the late Usama bin Laden who said the same thing.

    "You see, even the infidels agree that *true* Muslims, who take their own religion seriously, must battle against the West. So don't waste your time trying to be Muslim in a peaceful and constructive way, because that's not *real* Islam!"

  • ||

    I didn't realize the Quran was written after 1800 AD?

  • asdf||

    What the fuck are you doing here?

  • ||

    Yes and this long war involves the US government giving billions of dollars in aid and militarized domestic police training to Islamic regimes and fully explains why we needed to help support the House of Saud and Al Qauda/muslim brotherhood in Libya and Tunisia.

  • ||

    After reading the article I will vote for Newt. Thank you. Clearly he is not a coward and does not hide his true purpose, school records and Alinsky radical fascist/socialist roots like B.H.O, the anointed! Fortunately I was not born a socialist/fascist moron and have not been brainwashed to kiss Muslim ass and obey a the fake quasi-religious political ideology of the followers of Osama bin Laden and other fundamental Muslims hypocrites. I suggest that drug smugglers be allowed to move to Iran and be protected under the 'wonderful' Sharia system. Jacob Sullum and the commentators ought to emigrate to Iran also where they will be treated with the proper respect due infidel pigs and allowed to wear pretty burka customes.

  • Loki||

    I was wondering when the douche bags would get here.

  • Vake||

    $10,000 says ydroustan has never met a muslim in his life. They may as well be martians.

  • Almanian||

    But we want YOU to move to Iran, Tuff Gai, to go take on those Moozlum devils and give 'em what for!

    For AMERICA!

    Go get 'em, fuckhead! A grateful nation thanks you1

  • Colin||

    which makes you wonder why anyone would prefer him to Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate.

    He doesn't have secret underwear.

  • Loki||

    You mean magic underwear. It's not secret if everyone knows about it.

  • ChrisO||

    Gingrich peaked too early in the polls and is sinking. Let's hope Ron Paul's "moment" is arriving at the right time.

    Since neither Gingrich nor Romney have actual ideological principles, I differentiate them by temperament.

    Gingrich is a political bomb-thrower but doesn't seem to run organizations very well. Romney has more of an executive personality, and I would trust him slightly more because of that. Not that I want either of them to be president.

  • ||

    Dude may well be the coolest thing ever bro.

    www.AnonSurfing.tk

  • Almanian||

    SHUT UP, ANON! Now you're gettin' on my nerves..

  • Almanian||

    Thanks, Jacob, for another reminder of why I hate this fuckstain with every fibre in my body.

    If the R's inflict Newcular Titties on us as the next President, I believe he could be worse than the Bamster. I did not think was POSSIBLE anyone could be worse than BArry, until everyone got Newc Amnesia and decided he's "Better Than Romney" for some reason, and we've gotten to hear his latest "genius" thoughts. What a detestable authoritarian prick.

    The fucker could actually be WORSE than Obama. That's saying something.

    Fuck. We're dooooooooooooomed...

  • Realist||

    When everyone can vote, everyone loses.

  • ||

    Allright, well perhaps Gingrich and Romney will anihilate eachother and Paul will get the nomination.
    It's good to dream.

  • Realist||

    Yes, and dreaming you are. If Newt and Mitt go away the Republicans would try to nominate Hillary, before Ron.

  • Realist||

    The last thing I need is a shit for brains "history major" telling me what to do....or anyone else for that matter.

  • jacob||

    Great quote about Newt

    Newt Gingrich is the "anti-Establishment" candidate only if "the Establishment" is defined as "anyone who remembers what happened the day before yesterday."

  • CE||

    Yeah, but he's for lunar colonies and child labor, so he can't be all bad...

  • ||

    Newtonians problem is that he doesn't know when to shut up. He's good at raising a ruckus and getting people angry at someone else but that's all.

  • putra||

    Thanks a lot for your post, it's great information about Gingrich's apocalyptic and radical Islamism, i like that.

  • chris||

    Muslims from building a mosque near the site of the World Trade Center.

    I wondered why Coulter has a hard on for Newt that keeps popping out of his tuck strap. That would certainly explain it. The other candidates may throw Anne a morsel here and there but Newt is the only candidate that can satiate his hate for the Arabs.

  • ||

    Coulter likes Romney. Pay attention.

    What is wrong with you people?

    Oh, remember--no one likes "illegal immigrants" anymore, okay? Gingrich wants some kind of 'path to legalisation'--and Romney doesn't, so tread all you want on the little brown people, they're no longer useful.

    Hey, what's Romney's stand on the 'war on drugs'? What does it matter? Just repeat that Newt's 'bloodthirsty' and distract yourself from the fact that you're not asking questions.

    And, if all else fails, a bunch of you can vote for Obama again.

  • rockatansky||

    newt sounds like nixon 2.0. tell your friends before it's too late - he's still leading in the polls.

  • ||

    Anyone that believes Freddie Mac should be allowed to exist is not even close to being a conservative! Anyone that helped make them grow and took a million plus from a failing Ponzi Scheme should be thrown out of our country for good!

  • Vake||

    If we don't have bases on the moon and Mars, then why the hell would anyone study math and science?

  • first||

    When we met Gloria we knew right away that she is made for the world of nude modelling.

    She is moving on from her successes with beauty contests in her native Ukraine. She has the superb legs and a firm petite ass. And she knows exactly how to show them off.

    Those long, long legs will take her far. We're sure you'll want to follow behind her.

    Gloria loves the finer finer things in life. Fast cars, jewellery and high-end fashion. She is aiming for the Monte Carlo lifestyle. She is all-out to please - and to win the rewards for her terrific assets.

    Nothing is off-limits for Gloria whether she is on-camera or relaxing.

  • ||

    I'm waiting for Arnold, and James Belushi to save the day. "I last money on Hagler.".

  • Alan Falk||

    and if you love The Newt you've got to love a Theocracy and hate gays and minorities, too...

    such a wonderful candidate... not.

    Ron Paul's looking better and better every week...

    another "interesting" election coming up!

  • دردشة زين العراق||

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