Gingrich on the Rocks

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By now even Newt Gingrich realizes that conservatives will never recover until they admit that Bush did his best to destroy the movement, the party, and the country. So Newt’s latest salvo on the future of the "conservative movement" masquerades as a broadside on "the Bush-Obama big government, big bureaucracy, politician-empowering, high-tax, high-inflation and high-interest-rate system."

Sounds like he’s taking a big risk, right? I mean, channeling Ron Paul and attacking Bush and all that?

Well, as the kids on campus say, "Not!" Sure, as usual, Newt spews the buzz-words: he invokes "principles" nine times — but never names one, except "telling the truth" (three times), opposing "big government" (five times), and (the clincher), invoking Ronald Reagan (four times).

As Lenin would say, “really revolutionary.”

Apparently, Newt’s rhythmic mantras didn’t leave any space for the Constitution, which he never mentions once. Nor does he mention Iraq or Israel. Perhaps Newt can’t name any first principles because he doesn’t stick to any for long. A one-time history professor, he would have us believe today that the U.S. is over-committed in the Middle East: "The next building boom ought to be in America instead of the Middle East," he chirps. He conveniently forgets that he has long advocated not only the Iraq War, but a broadened US war in the Middle East against Iran and Syria on behalf of Israel. After all, he insists, this is "World War III"!

Nor does Newt mention any family issues — abortion, euthanasia, education, the courts, embryonic stem-cell research, and dozens more — that are so important to millions of his one-time supporters on the "religious right." (Maybe that because every time Newt tries to make a comeback, he seems to have a new wife.)

Will Newt’s overture to “change” really work? I’m not so sure. Last November, Michael Steele, then the head of Gingrich’s GOPAC organization, complained that Republicans in the fall elections "didn’t have anything to say to the American people other than, ‘We’re not Democrats. We’re not Obama. We’re not Hillary.’ Well, we know that. So what else is new?"

Well, now Newt has added something new, another strophe to Steele’s chorus: "We’re not Bush either." But I wonder, will Mr. Steele, who is now Chairman of the Republican National Committee, sing along? Or will he be bound in the Bush straitjacket? He must know that, while Bush’s final approval rating nationally was a historically low 22%, 57% of those still willing to call themselves Republicans approved of him — and now they are supposedly Steele’s constituency.

So has-beens of a feather fly, but not together: "We’re not Bush," says Newt, because apparently he can now safely say that Bush had no principles, that he didn’t tell the truth, and that he is no different from Obama.

My goodness. Next week we might see Newt shouting, "Bush lied! People Died!" But don’t hold your breath.

"We’re not Bush." Well, Newt, we knew that already. But for all the hot air, I don’t think Newt’s trial balloon will fly until he tells conservatives that "we’re not that World War III-mongering, Middle East leveling, Iraq War cheerleader Newt Gingrich either."

Christopher Manion Archives

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