Posts Tagged ‘Newt Gingrich’

Pugnacity Trumps Family Values in SC Republican Primary

January 22, 2012

I thought I had basically understood the South Carolina Republican electorate.  That’s why I figured Rick Santorum would do very well in the state, not come in last in the primary as he did.  He is a high-profile conservative  evangelist, and South Carolina has a lot of  those. Newt Gingrich, who could be considered family values challenged,  won big time in the Republican Presidential Primary. What happened?

I heard some of the political pundits say that since Newt was so forthcoming about admitting his past personal flaws, South Carolinians were willing to overlook his personal character baggage because what they care about most is nominating a fighter to challenge President Obama. One voter was quoted as saying he was for Gingrich because he wanted someone who would bloody President Obama’s nose in a debate.  Who would end up with the bloody nose in that one remains to be seen.

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Political Presentation: It’s How That You Do it

January 2, 2012

As I watched Rick Santorum speaking in Iowa on CNN – refreshingly in long form which gave me a good chance to observe his communicating technique – I had to reflect on presentation, how he said what he said.

First of all, he is good. He can communicate in a natural, conversational, reasonably sounding style, with body language to match. He is much more likable than most of the other Republicans campaigning in Iowa. Likeability is an important factor. It’s a major reason that Barrack Obama is President of the United States. I have even heard some Republicans say they like him as a person, just not as a president.

However, as I listen to what former Senator Santorum was actually saying, I realized beneath his veneer of family values warmth, which puts him in good stead with the Christian right, and probably will help him considerably in South Carolina, is an ideologue who wants America to stay on a course to create an empire, and to stay militarily aggressive.

He put Ron Paul in the same boat with President Obama when it comes to staying at war. He accuses the president of pulling back from military involvement. He said all this in a very reasonable talking-over-the-backyard-fence-to-a-neighbor style. But, the message I got is he is a pro-military-industrial-complex, mega-defense-spending candidate.

He accused President Obama of taking America on an anti-empire course, and said we need to observe the dissolution of the world-dominating British Empire when it became more interested in domestic welfare than empire. That told me that he wants an even larger American Empire. To do that a country does have to maintain a huge military machine and use it to control and expand its empire.

What I can’t understand is why he is just emerging as a candidate to be seriously considered. Why do the polls show him now ahead of New Ginghrich? What’s going to happen in South Carolina where he is being touted as a strong contender because of his Christian right credentials? Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he, not Santorum, is going to win in South Carolina. After seeing what is now happening in Iowa, I’m not so sure Newt is right.

Both of them have a big problem. They don’t have the organization or the money that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney or Congressman Ron Paul has. They also have another big problem. Are they electable?  Satisfying the Republican right-wing Christian fundamentalist base is one thing. Overcoming a newly energized, well-financed and organized, accomplished debater Barrack Obama, is quite another.

Cain’s Fifteen Minutes are Over, but Not Newt’s

December 3, 2011

State Sen. Josh McKoon on C-SPAN

After Columbus State Senator Josh McKoon made his rousing speech for Cain on C-Span at the Cain political rally in Atlanta,  Herman Cain suspended his campaign.  No, I’m sure it  had nothing to do with Josh’s remarks. More about Josh in a moment.

Herman Cain on C-SPAN

Cain dropped out, he said,  because of the distractions  and pain to him, his wife and his family that were caused by what he called false statements about him.  He blamed the media and politcians for his troubles.  

He didn’t say the statements were about his alleged sexual adventures with some women other than his wife, but everyone knew what he was talking about when he said he was at peace with himself, that his wife and family were also at peace.

As I watched Cain’s rally-turned-rout, I had to reflect how much Georgia has played a lead role in national politics since Jimmy Carter was elected president. In the Republican presidential primary we had two Georgians making national headlines as their poll numbers put them on top. One of them, Newt Gingrich, had already reached a pinnacle of national power when he became Georgia’s first Speaker of the U.S. House.

Newt wasn’t born in Georgia, and he doesn’t live in the state now. He was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; he and his third wife live in McLean, Virginia, though he comes back to Georgia. He has spoken in Columbus a couple of times in recent years. I read where he gets $60,000 per speech. Wonder if he got that much when he spoke in Columbus. And,  he did graduate from Baker High School in Columbus, and Emory in Atlanta, and was elected as a Georgia Representative to the U.S. House six times, and was a Georgian when he was Speaker of the House.

Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, but grew up in Atlanta where he was educated, married, and still resides.  He and I have something in common. We both worked at WSB in Atlanta. He had his talk show until recently. I did the morning newscasts and some DJ work a very long time ago.

How do I  feel about the suspension of his campaign?  I don’t think could have handled the office of president.  999 is not enough. You have to have a clue about places like Libya where the U.S. military is involved.  And leading the free world isn’t exactly the same as running Godfather’s Pizza.  No, he doesn’t, in my view, have the intellect or grasp of foreign affairs that President Obama does.  As far as the sex mess, he certainly isn’t alone in that area.  It just happened to come out before, not after he was elected. Works better for the candidate when it’s after.

Newt? Well, he is quite intelligent and an adept politician, and definitely has a way with words.  He had his sex scandals, too, but he isn’t letting that stop him. And, he can really be nasty when he wants to, which is a lot of the time.  Nasty, though, seems to appeal to a lot of voters. But, would he really be good for the country? Can he rise above partisan politics and do what’s best for the common good?  He is credited with starting the egregious partisanship that has been gridlocking Congress for a number of years now.

Is he electable?  With his personal and political baggage I don’t see how, but as H.L Mencken said, “No one in this world … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office hereby.” (Thanks to Mike Nichols for that quote.) 

Now, about my good Republican friend Josh McKoon.  Knowing that Cain was probably going to pull out, I was really somewhat surprised when I heard him make his stem-winder speech  about  everyone getting on the Cain train, that he is the man to get the country out of the economic mess it is in.  I would have thought Josh would have been more likely to support Newt.  Wonder if he will now.

Cain says he is out of the race, but not out of the fight. He will continue to air his views on his website, he says. Welcome to the club. There are millions of us bloggers.

Newt, Elvis, and Me

November 28, 2011

Of all of  the candidates in the Republican presidential primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the only one I have met.  I interviewed him a number of times when I was working as a broadcast journalist.   The fact that, even though I was rarely on the same page politically with him, I was fair when interviewing him was evidenced the last time I interviewed him.  When he was still Speaker of the U.S. House, before he got caught  in his marital hypocrisy which revealed he was conducting an adultrous affair at the same time he was working to impeach President Clinton for doing the same thing, and before he had to pay a $300,000 fine for alleged House ethics violations, and eventually was forced to resign from Congress, he came to Columbus for some event.

When WTVM News requested a live 6 p.m. news interview with him, I was told that he would do it if I conducted the interview.  Seems my good Republican friend – I even voted for  him – Mac Collins, who was Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District representative at the time, had suggested that to Newt.  Anyway, I did interview him live that evening.  I was on the news set at the studio and he was at  the Trade Center.  It was one of those split-screen set ups.

I don’t recall  any of  the content of the interview so he must have basically  behaved himself and wasn’t in his nasty mode.  He can turn that on and off.  I do remember a little of what he said when I went up to Washington to interview him not long after he had become Speaker of the House.  I threw some soft-ball  questions to him about what it was like to be Speaker of the House, but eventually got around to the meaty stuff, things like, Why were the Republicans trying to cut school lunch money for the needy?  He said that charge by Democrats was misleading, that they were not trying to cut the school lunch  budget, just an increase in it.

The reason I decided to ask WTVM to pony up the money for a flight to Washington for me and my photographer was that when a Georgian reaches a position of that national importance, we needed to interview him in that environment.  Not only did WTVM do that, it made a deal with CNN for me to use their facilities to feed back a live report from D.C. to Columbus on the 6 p.m. news.  I also taped interviews with Rep. Mack Collins and my Democratic Party friend Rep. Sanford Bishop of the 2nd Congressional District, which includes South Columbus.  (Mack liked Sanford, and said his only problem was he was a Democrat and he should switch parties, and later, according to Sanford, even asked him to do it, but Sanford said he couldn’t do that.) After the taped interviews, both of them had said they would try to show up for the live shot that night, but neither did. Seems they had to stick around the House for a vote.  That  meant that, at the last minute, I realized I had to, as we said in the business, tap dance by myself.  I was glad I managed to get through the ad-libbing without hyperventilating.  We ran the taped interviews with all three of them over the  next few days when I got back to Columbus.

I also remember the time I interviewed Newt at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans in 1988.  That was the one when President George H. W. Bush made the ‘No new taxes!” pledge.  The fact that turned out to be an empty promise helped Bill Clinton beat him in Bush’s reelection bid.   My crew and I stayed at  the same hotel as the Georgia delegation, which included Newt.  I remember that he spotted me in the lobby the first night we were there and yelled hello.  The next day as we were walking to the  Superdome where the convention was being held,  I spotted him walking very fast behind  us. As he caught up with us, I told him I wanted an interview, and he said, as best as I can recall, “All right, but it’ll have to be later. I’m in a hurry right now because ABC wants to interview me.” That was understandable.  The WTVM audience was certainly no match in size for ABC’s.  He did, as he said he would, give me an interview later.

Now, he’s back in the  national spotlight big time.  Can he possibly get the nomination  and be elected with all  of  the political and personal baggage he is carrying?  At first blush,  my answer is certainly not.  But, in politics you just never really know.  As one famous movie producer, whose name I can’t remember, said, You should never overestimate the American public.  That is so true. Just think of some of the people who have been elected President.  Which reminds me, I just saw a really entertaining movie called Elvis Meets Nixon. It was so funny, and, as Dick Cavvitt said, “for the most part, true,” that I watched it twice.  By all means, rent it the first chance you get.

Lasting Sound Bites

November 21, 2011

“Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”

-Newt Gingrich 

A friend’s quote dealing with the dangers of historically high income inequality inspired me to check other quotes that apply. He used the quote, “The palace is in danger when the cottage is unhappy.”

I don’t know to whom to attribute the “cottage” quote , but I came across another one that applies to our current social unrest situation that is attributed to Thomas Carlyle, Victorian-era Scottish author and philosopher. He said, “A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under this sun.”   Thomas Carlyle

When I saw that one, I had to reflect on the Newt Gingrich quote that has been played over and over on the cable news channels. He said the Occupy Wall Street protesters should, “Go get a job, right after you take a bath.”
That quote, which drew loud applause from the audience attending a Republican presidential primary candidate’s debate, triggered a lot of angry comments on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, with panelists calling it “arrogant” and “disgusting” from an hypocritical one-percenter who took over a million dollars from Freddie Mac.
How could he use such nasty rhetoric about the  protesters and not address at all the issues that are causing their protests, some of them wanted to know. But, another one was not surprised at all.  The former U.S. House Speaker has made it clear how he feels about the effectiveness of Republican nastiness.  Check out this Newt quote from Brainey Quotes.
“I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around a campfire but are lousy in politics.” 
So, if you want nasty, Newt’s your man.