Medicare

Nothing Newt Under the Sun

The inevitable rise of Newt Gingrich.

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The inevitability of Newt Gingrich's moment in the sun was itself inevitable. Like finicky department store shoppers trying on an endless series of not-quite-right outfits, Republican voters have been indecisively trying out candidates looking for someone, anyone who is both a perfect fit—or at least a decent Not Mitt. And if the GOP base had not stopped to browse Newt's offerings, enterprising members of the campaign media, always desperate for a newer, more interesting story, would have dropped the Newtron bomb anyway—if only to keep themselves interested.

But the risen Newt is neither as interesting nor as compelling a candidate as he clearly wants people to think he is. The new Newt thing is the same as the old one—frivolous, flighty, flip-flopping, mildly corrupt, and tremendously self-important.

The former Republican Speaker of the House fancies himself an expert on practically everything—space, science, health policy, international law, world history, the clash of civilizations. Throughout his life he's literally collected ideas by the shoebox: Starting in high school, he collected facts and quotes and assorted thoughts on scraps of paper and stuffed them into the cardboard containers, reportedly amassing about 50 in all, which he then used to help generate material for his early books. In recent years, he became a frequent book reviewer at Amazon.com, using the site's commenting features to publish more than 150 book reviews, many of which discussed idea-driven technothrillers set amidst world war and political intrigue.

So it's no surprise that in the endless rounds of American Idol-fied GOP debates this year, Gingrich appears to be running as much for philosopher king as for president—or at least as the world's most interesting dinner party guest. The Gingrich style mixes apocalyptic fear-mongering with sweeping historical narrative and frequent digressions into high-concept daydreams ("Why not aspire to build a real Jurassic Park?" he mused in his 1999 book To Renew America), all delivered in the tone of an elder professor making the rounds on the business consulting circuit.  

It's a style that's ensured Gingrich always has a place in the political media's limelight, even while he's busy denouncing the president for holding a "Kenyan, anti-colonial worldview." (Never mind that when he wrote his doctoral thesis, Gingrich thought colonialism was just fine.) In 2009, despite holding no office, he was the most frequent guest on Sunday morning's greatest bastion of Beltwayism, Meet the Press.

Since the start of his career, it's been clear that Gingrich has opinions about everything, and yet it's not clear what he stands for at all. Take health care, probably the most prominent policy debate of the last few years, and one that Gingrich has given special attention through his health policy shop, the Center for Health Transformation. Yet on Medicare, he's argued for voucher-based fundamental reform, criticized Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) proposed voucher-driven overhaul as a "radical" form of "right-wing social engineering," and also said that he would have voted for it.

His position on the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is just as tangled. He supported it in the 1990s, promoted the idea in a 2005 book, and reiterated his support for it again in May, arguing that, "There are ways to do it that make most libertarians relatively happy." And yet he's also declared himself adamantly opposed to the concept: "I am against any effort to impose a federal mandate on anyone because it is fundamentally wrong and I believe unconstitutional," he said in a campaign video.

If adopting a more moderate position on Medicare was Gingrich's attempt to differentiate himself from the rest of the GOP pack, it was a failure. The GOP already has a pandering health care flip-flopper in the race, and his name is Mitt Romney.

But the confusion may run deeper than that. Newt's desire to have it both ways extends to his own place in the world. As TPM's Benjy Sarlin recently noted, Gingrich, who served in the House from 1978 until 1999, claims that he is both an experienced Washington insider—"somebody who actually knows Washington"—and also an outsider: "I'm not a Washington figure," he told a group of reporters in May. He argues that his "outsider's viewpoint" allows him to "approach things like Washington that are probably very, very different from most traditional politicians."

Since leaving elected office, however, his approach to Washington has relied heavily on his insider status, which he has used to cash in. Starting just five months after he left Congress, the former House speaker earned his consulting firm between $1.6 and $1.8 million in fees from government-backed mortgage giant Freddie Mac, according to a Bloomberg News report earlier this week. Was he paid for lobbying, like so many ex-legislators? Not at all, he claims. He was merely a policy consultant whose role was to dispense advice in his capacity as a "historian."

Gingrich would have us believe that the mortgage backer paid seven figures for his wide-ranging erudition and the pleasure of his company. Yet given how long the media have happily lapped up this self-appointed philosopher king's antics, is it any surprise that he fully expects us to buy this idea? It may be that no one believes in Newt Gingrich's inevitability more than Newt Gingrich himself.

Peter Suderman is an associate editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. Alt-text request: “Call me. . .Newcular Titties.”

    1. I’ve been referring to him as Newcular Titties whenever possible. I really hope it somehow catches on outside of H&R/Urkobold weirdo world.

      1. I got a few odd looks last weekend when I referred to him as Newcular Titties. My wife’s feminist friend really didn’t care for it. It’s ok, she already hates me.

        1. It’s not a comment on nuclear things or on bosoms. It’s just what Newt should be short for. After all, he isn’t a fig or a physicist.

        2. “It’s ok, she already hates me.”

          Maybe it’s because of your name.

          1. Feminism neither requires nor possesses any reasons (or Reason).

          2. Oddly, Nipplemancer is a family name that goes back generations. My Great-Great-Grandpappy Nipplemancer faught in the Civil War (ok, well he got into a fight, but wasn’t actually a soldier).

      2. I’m not sure which world is weirder–Hit & Run/Urkobold or the real world.

        1. The real world. C’mon – they still treat Santorum as a candidate.

          1. I lied. I was sure.

            1. Regardless, “Newcular Titties” is like the funniest thing ever.

  2. I think Newt’s success can be attributed to style more than substance. He looks and sounds great during debates. He has great TV skills, which he’s perfected over years of TV appearances.

    1. Whatever the aural equivalent to squinting is, when you do that sometimes, he almost sounds like he’s against big government. But when you stop aurally squinting, the shit gets bad.

    2. on the other hand, he has a track record the others do not: he was Speaker when budgets were pretty much balanced, when welfare reform was passed, when no one was bitching about runaway govt spending or global military adventures. No, Newt is not perfect. Last I checked, neither were any of the other GOP hopefuls and Obama damn sure isn’t.

      The point of elections is to win. Paul will not do that. Neither will Johnson. If not Newt, then whom? If not any, how is Obama the better alternative? Not endorsing anyone, just asking but I will answer the last question with this: the only thing that makes 4 more years of Obama even remotely palatable is that America may actually have to hit rock bottom, to mirror Greece, before people will demand substantive reform from their representatives.

      1. You know, the way no one really seems to be dominating anything, I don’t see how anyone can say that. Paul isn’t a likely nominee, but he is in the running. Romney will not win the nomination, so one of the not-Romneys will.

        1. curiously, the second choice for a huge number of folks is Romney. My question is two-fold: who can beat Obama and which of those folks would be an improvement?

          Lots of things can happen and I could be wrong about Paul, but don’t see it. He would be preferable to Obama which leaves the first question. We have already seen evidence of the media strategy toward him.

          1. How do you define improvement?

            I see one real question for the Rs. Who can beat Obama?

            Elections are more about winning than doing what was promised or making things better. And by better, I mean running the country with less money, more transparancy, and giving more freedom to the citizenry.

            1. I define improvement as less govt, beginning with spending, moving onto to rules and regs (fewer of them and repeal of some in play), and a reform of both the tax code and entitlements.

              The saddest part is that the question of who can beat Obama is being genuinely asked given the disaster that POTUS is.

              1. Then Newt wouldn’t be your guy.

                He supported Medicare part D.

                and there this,
                From Wiki,
                “In a May 15, 2011, interview on Meet the Press, Gingrich repeated his long-held belief that “all of us have a responsibility to pay ? help pay for health care”, and suggested this could be implemented by either a mandate to obtain health insurance or a requirement to post a bond ensuring coverage.[76][77]”

                He is not opposed to mandated health insurance. Which, I assume, is part of the current POTUS disaster you speak of.

          2. Let’s return to this discussion on Jan 4, 2012, after Paul wins Iowa.

        2. Ron WHO?

          1. that’s Dr. WHO to you.

        3. I foresee the nomination coming down to Bitchtits, Flopney, and Ron. The former two have quite a bit of overlap, but lately all the tea-party ignoramouses have been jonesing for some Bitchtits.

          IF Gingrich maintains this support bubble he current has; then it will likely shake down to a Bitchtits vs. Ron contest, while Shittens flounders around with an inconsequential 3rd place. Best case here would probably be Ron making a strong showing of around 30-40% of delegates.

          Or, Gingrich could begin imploding, like every other tea-party-supported tool before him. In which case its a 3way race with Shittens as front runner. Best case here would probably by Ron getting about 10% of delegates. (Since ‘Tits (or Perry) will still appeal to the “fighting the establishment/Flopney” attitude of the TEAM RED base).

        4. Romney is going to win the nomination. I’m not voting for him, but he will win.

      2. Newt is a central planner. If elected, he will destroy what ever chance the GOP has of becoming a party that believes in limited government. Guys like Rand Paul and Mike Lee will lose what ever sway they have amongst the party, in exchange for a return to Bush era conservatism.

        Newt is a bigger danger to limited government than Obama, because if Obama gets re-elected, we will still have divided government.

        1. ditto for Romney. I will never vote for either one of them.

        2. Ditto for Romney. And Gingrich is just too much of a crook. He is a Republican Clinton. And Republicans can’t get away with that like Democrats with their own media can. He would be a disaster as a President.

      3. I’d say the only real point to elections is to inject some uncertainty into the political process. No one acceptable to me is ever going to win, so that’s all they are worth to me anyway. This is how I can still be for some democracy even though the will of the people (as far as such a thing can even exist) is generally stupid and incoherent.

        1. When everyone can vote, everyone loses.

      4. Are people in Greece “demanding substantive reform” or just throwing a temper tantrum and getting ready to vote in a really Red government? Why do you think if things got really bad here people would turn toward liberty?

      5. Nothing like self fulfilling prophecy.

        “Paul won’t win” = I’m not voting for him. In other words c’mon over to the dark side, vote for our normal GOP clown.

        If all the idiots who keep saying Paul can’t win were to actually vote him, it would be a landslide. Now fuck off, you constitutionally illiterate, economically clueless, historically unaware, totalitarian toadie.

      6. …before people will demand substantive reform from their representatives.

        They’ll forget about it by the time the next election comes around anyway.

      7. “Paul will not do that. Neither will Johnson.”
        I will not vote for a candidate because some or most in the Republican party will not vote for my choice. Let the majority vote for my choice….Ron Paul.

  3. Suderman’s on an inevitability kick.

  4. So, what’s up next? Santorum fever?

    1. I wonder how many have to fall before Paul becomes “the guy”?

      1. How many do you have?

        1. You’re right. When they run out, they’ll get more to announce.

        2. Good one R C.

      2. Seriously if you would vote for Romney over Paul you can’t possibly believe in limited government. What happened to stick to the economy? They would rather go to war with Iran than cut spending.

      3. I think Paul is next and just in time to dominate Iowa. Santorum won’t get a shot at the brass ring any more than Huntsman or Johnson will.

        1. The best thing about Ron Paul being elected, would be watching both teams try to tear him down. The only question is, which team would try the hardest to destroy him?

    2. Santorum fever

      I told you not to drink it.

      1. That took longer than expected.

        1. Sug likes it nice and sloooow.

  5. The inevitable rise of Newt Gingrich.

    In politics, you can’t keep a bad man down.

    1. Or woman. See Hillary Clinton.

  6. I caught a couple of minutes of Hannity last night while flipping channels (yes, I’m a masochist) and they were all roundly agreeing that not only is Gingrich a good candidate, but they all really like Romney too. And they were saying this like it was completely obvious, observable fact. What the fucking fuck? I guess they can’t stand it when the left threatens to be the most divorced (heh, Newcular Titties oughta know about that) from reality.

    1. I can’t watch cable news. I can maybe watch it a little bit in the morning where they often have good looking women and generally talk about fluff. But I couldn’t watch the prime time stuff for love nor money.

      Maybe we are the ones who live in a bubble. In my world no one can stand Romney. I have met exactly one person who likes him. But maybe that is not reality.

      1. He’s all the rage at my work. 🙁

        1. Gross. What is it that people like about him, exactly? He’s a slimy, flip-flopping, big gov’t statist fuck.

          Plus, to me at least, he is particularly unlikeable. He’s like the right’s version of John Edwards in terms of being singularly off-putting. But, to John’s point, plenty of liberals liked Edwards before his epic crash and burn, so being terrible on just about every issue and being an asshole in general is apparently appealing to a lot of people.

          1. To some degree, I think he’s like Obama for the right. He appears intelligent, measured, reasoned. Doesn’t matter what he does, because he masters his image. Doesn’t get flustered, ever. Owns his situation; in one of the last debates, I noticed how much he contrasted with the others, in that while they mostly adopted the defensive posture upon questioning, he did the opposite — listening to questions, and formulates his response in real time, and then turns it around on the questioner. And I don’t mean above I think he’s like Obama; I am convinced that guy is pretty much a dolt. Newt appears intelligent because he is.

            And that’s not a good thing.

            1. I think that describes Romney really well. Remember Romney is the idiot son of the former CEO of American Motors. He is a product of corporate America. The behavior you describe in the debate is, along with connections, how you get ahead in the corporate world today. Not how you get a nice living doing actual work. It is how you get to be a CEO. Romeny would be in over his head as President just as much as Obama is.

              1. Possibly, but I get a different vibe from him altogether. When he is thinking, it is apparent that’s what he’s doing. So he comes off as more calculating. Not that Newt is any less so, but he displays a much more natural manner, and this suggests that he’s saying what he’s saying from principle.

                1. this suggests that he’s saying what he’s saying from principle.

                  Appearances are deceiving, no?

                  1. Sure, but does it matter? He achieves the effect, whatever the actual cause.

            2. “He appears intelligent, measured, reasoned.”
              Not to me. What is measured about wanting to kill Iranian scientists?

              1. You are not in the target audience.

          2. “being terrible on just about every issue and being an asshole in general is apparently appealing to a lot of people.”

            Made me chuckle. Then bang my head on the desk.

            1. Perhaps “The People” conflate those characteristics with true Leadership?

              Newt is the right wing wannabe messiah to Barry’s left. Demagogues who see themselves as far above those whom they are elected by, both in intelligence and entitlement. Their views and edicts are beyond reproach.

        2. “He’s all the rage at my work. :(”
          Quit your job. Just kidding.

      2. I know a few people who like Romney. But they are also the kind of people who get 100% of their thoughts from the television.

        1. That must be it. No one really pays much attention. And the media can just say something over and over again and people who are not paying attention, which is most of the country, just assume it must be the truth since so many people are saying it.

    2. It’s all horse race shit. He is a good candidate because he looks and sounds like what they think of as a good candidate, not because he would actually do anything good as president. That is beside the point.

      1. that captures the essence of what is wrong with political coverage. I would like to say political “journalism” but that died a long time ago. There is the over-reliance on polls – make news beyond all other manufactured news – the hyperventilation of one statement or stumble, and whether or not someone is ‘on message’.

        The point is, or should be, what is the message; how is that message reflected in the candidate’s past life; and is the message even workable. Something like 9-9-9 is catchy but can it work? Coverage reflects its audience – vapid, unwilling to think independently, more interested in American Idol than substance.

  7. I get a hard on when I look at Newt – I think he’d make a good bottom 🙂

  8. Since the start of his career, it’s been clear that Gingrich has opinions about everything, and yet it’s not clear what he stands for at all.

    And how exactly is Newcular Titties any different from Shit Flopney?

    1. Gingrich isn’t a Mormon.

      1. A Mormon or a moron. Fundamentally unprincipled, yes, but intelligent. Of course, Romney has great presence for a douchebag.

  9. I caught a couple of minutes of Hannity last night while flipping channels (yes, I’m a masochist) and they were all roundly agreeing that not only is Gingrich a good candidate, but they all really like Romney too.

    That Tulpa brand of Stockholm Syndrome is setting in, but good and hard.

    Intrade has Shit Flopney at around 70% level of confidence that he will be TEAM RED NOMINEE, followed by The Titties at 12% chance.

    Also, you keep up that level of self-injury Dagster and I’ll have to put you on the fun drugs list. For your own good.

    1. Mark that down. I think intrade is bullshit. Lets see what happens. If Romney is not the nominee, I would hope people would stop paying attention to it.

    2. They put up a little graphic showing the latest percentages from some poll or another, with Romney and Gingrich ahead of Paul, and Santorum and Bachmann well behind him, and guess whose name they didn’t mention once? Stockholm Syndrome is right.

      You know something, doc? You are a brilliant diagnostician. I think fun drugs are absolutely the antidote.

  10. Gingrich isn’t a Mormon.

    I initially read that as “Gingrich isn’t a Moron.”

    I’m aware of the religious affiliation difference; I was asking in terms of policy dissimilarity and general philosophical import.

    1. I think Willard is just more of a mainline collect taxes for the welfare state, manage the decline, be well liked by the right people, crony capitalist, left of center Republican.

      Gingrich fancies himself as an intellectual. He has never had a thought he didn’t think was worth sharing with the world. That is why it is so easy to call him a flip flopper. He is constantly thinking about things and constantly telling the world what he is thinking at that moment. So it is easy to find him saying contradictory things.

      I think Willard is a basically honest person in monetary matters even though intellectually he will do or say whatever he thinks is popular. Gingrich in contrast says it because he thinks it is true and therefore came from God’s lips to his ears.

      The big difference is Gingrich is a petty crook and Romney doesn’t seem to be.

      Gingrich lost his speakership over some penny anti ethics violation where he was selling books to supporters in return for favors. The whole thing was over a few thousand dollar. Here Gingrich is the second most powerful man in the country. And he knows he has a million powerful enemies who are out to get him. And he throws the whole thing away for a few extra bucks. I think that says all you need to know about Gingrich’s character. He is the kind of guy who steals the silverware at dinner parties just for the thrill of getting a Muldoon.

      1. He has never had a thought he didn’t think was worth sharing with the world.

        Ha. This made me laugh. And it’s probably the best single sentence to describe The Titties.

      2. I think you nailed Titties, but your assessment of Romney is WAY off. That guy is not honest. Not in the slightest. He is as self-serving, crooked, and wicked (the bad kind) as they come.

        Shittens is the type of person who will flick around Kelos for himself, his friends, and his friends’ friends. And if you have a problem with him he’ll get his team to foist bogus charges on you and steal your stuff too.

        ‘Tits is a scoundrel, but is not an especially malicious guy. Flopney IS malicious. Just look at his actions, his body language, when he is righteously confronted for being a lying pile of bloody diarreah. He’d be a good administrator for a North Korean prison camp.

  11. You really should follow the links to Newt’s dissertation. The author of the article admits to only skimming it, but still…

    It’s a barely-reworded white man’s burden. He thinks the Belgians, arguably the worst of the European colonialists in how they treated their subjects, were just great masters of central Africa, and those ingrate blacks just don’t know how good they had it under white rule.

  12. Did anyone else read the subtilte as:

    “The risible rise of Newt Gingrich”

    1. “The inestimable thighs of Newcular Titties”?

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  14. If Nixon won so can Newt.

  15. I think Newt is a charter member of the Wise Man school of government. And I think we all know who he believes is Wisest of the Wise.

    I suspect President Titties would govern in a manner barely distinguishable from Mikey Bloomberg, given the chance.

    1. I am above all of this. I see what you don’t. Your perception is narrow, and your reason flawed. I am the quintessential observer and analyst, and my conclusions are correct. You will believe these things, because I believe them, too.

  16. Why is everyone and their mother writing about how much Newt sucks? We all know it. He is only getting a little props for challenging the Obama chorus in the MSM. We still know he is an ugly toad who would kill his own gay sister for a dime.

  17. First Twilight, and now Newt. Did you lose a bet or something?

  18. Here’s a question; who could you even come up with who is more of a corporatist insider than Romney?

    Hank Paulson?

    (Corzine, fortunately, has been sidelined.)

    1. Jeff Immelt of GE

  19. Since an unbelievably awful candidate is likely to be chosen, the more interesting question for me is which one, amongst the Republicans, is actually the worst and why. My masochism compels me to ponder this and wonder if it’d be better for Obama to win, since we’d at least have divided government, and Obamacare is going nowhere, we already lost that one. So! Worst candidate and why? Also, do they win BECAUSE of their horribleness or can Obama pull it off?

  20. thank you a lotssssssssssssssssss

  21. thank you a lotssssssssssssssssss

    1. dam squirrelsssssssssssssssssss

  22. In recent years, he became a frequent book reviewer at Amazon.com, using the site’s commenting features to publish more than 150 book reviews

    Well, the man had to keep himself busy doing something while he was drawing a check from Freddie.

    I don’t know who I hate more, DC or the hordes of brainwashed asshats throughout this shit stain of a country who are mindlessly backing the next morally-devoid walking colostomy bag flavor of the week.

  23. I am absolutely terrified by the pictures of Newt’s latest wife. Was that an upgrade?

  24. Peter Suderman = Obama voter

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  26. I think the author’s writing is very good, although the point of view a little bit different, but really is a good article, and the author can hope to have time to discuss some problems.

  27. All this pompous and arrogant moron ever does, is cite and quote history, using it as examples to our current problems in order to make himself seem so educated and witty. This guy has violted countless ethics codes during his career, and has endless baggage, both personal and while in congress. He voted to raise the debt ceiling FOUR TIMES. FOUR TIMES! Ill say it again, FOUR TIMES. Ron Paul voted against that EVERY TIME. This just shows he is all for constant spending and prefers to be part of the problem and not the solution. He is all for throwing billions of dollars of foreign aid at other countries since he has been in congress, so they will use it to buy endless war material and so it will look like our employment numbers are actually rising, when they aren’t. He pushes endless wars like there is no tomorrow, and had the audactiy to say the other day in a forum i was watching, that if ‘Iran doesn’t solve its problems, i am going to solve it for them’. Yes! Awesome, let’s start WW3! YaY. Who the F does this guy think he is talking like that? It is so easy for him to say, yet moments before that he is saying how during war times, we send our families away and how precious family is. Yet he wants to start wars for no justified reason. This guy needs to go fall in a well, and fast (if he could fit). Just google and do your homework, youll see how horrible his record is, the things he has said, the endless contradictions and flip flopping, going back to the Reagan Admin. He is worse than Romney in that area. And when it comes down to it, he is all about the money. Where was he during the housing bubble? Why wanst he speaking out on it? Oh that is right, i forgot, he was too busy making 1.6mil for Freddie Mac, and lobbying to congress to keep the same evil system in place for them. He too, is one of David Rockefeller’s henchman, been in the CFR, The Bohemian Club, and other corrupt orgs looking to use our once great country for global dominion and these very scary and warped ideologies, similar to Marx and Hitler. It’s fuckin sad. Cant you people wake up and stop voting for these idiots? 50 years ago a candidate like Newt would have been kicked to the curb in seconds. Now we embrace this tripe. This scum is a damn closet-communist, with these warped futuristic ideas, hell, even worse than that. Here, want proof?

    http://www.enterstageright.com…..dwayp1.htm

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/…..?showall=1

    Gingrich is a slick-talking and arrogant clown, with absolutely no class whatsoever , one of the most unethical people to be in congress (not to mention his personal baggage), a total hypocrite, and it is just goes to show how clueless most americans have become, that they would even consider voting for this sorry

    sack of garbage. Stop f’n wasting your votes on people like this. My goodness! WAKE UP!!!

    Spead the word about this nutjob and that he will start WW3 if elected. And if you aren’t familiar with Ron Paul, i suggest you start doing so and stop letting the media shove lies and distorted truths in your face about him. The establishment’s inner circle of elite, evil bankers, lobbyists, corrupt congressman and manipulative media, fear him like no one they have ever feared before, because their game would be over.

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