For many years, I admired the mind of Newt Gingrich. In the 1980s and ’90s, nobody, with the exception of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley, articulated political conservatism with the effectiveness of Gingrich.
When Gingrich led the midterm Republican revolution in 1994, many of us were hopeful that the nation had suddenly realized that two years of lower-lip biting and 40 years of Democrat majority in the House and Senate were big mistakes.
Inevitably though, the luster of the Republican revolution slowly started to fade. The first thing you learn as a young voter is that politicians are not unlike some exercise equipment you see for sale on television: it always works better on TV, and the fat it promised to trim never comes to fruition. But I figured Newt’s “revolution” was at least a good start.
As a political philosopher and historian, I have consistently considered Gingrich to be an upper-echelon conservative – but fairly recently, something has happened to Newt. For one, he’s jumped aboard the “climate-change” train while claiming it’s only so he can make sure the gauges aren’t broken.
My Gingrich wince started last spring during a global warming “debate” between Newt and John Kerry that CNN dubbed “Shoot-out at the climate change corral” – prompting Kerry to lobby for another Purple Heart.
In that “debate,” Kerry took up the position that climate change was real and that something needs to be done, while Gingrich insisted that climate change could be real, and we should do something about it just in case it is. It was like watching a doubles match at Wimbledon with two players on one side of the court, and none on the other – all while a dog was off to the side chasing its own tail.
Even still, this alone wasn’t enough to knock me off Newt’s fan list. But it was going to get worse.
Last weekend I saw an ad that must have been produced under the working title, “How to get conservatives to hate Newt Gingrich in 30 easy seconds.”
Gingrich joined forces with Nancy Pelosi in urging Americans to sign on to WeCanSolveIt.org and help fight climate change.
After seeing the Pelosi/Gingrich ad, I was a bit stunned. I felt like Michael Corleone watching Fredo chatting it up with Hyman Roth. I’d just like to tell Newt, “You broke my heart …”
The ad is sponsored by the Alliance for Climate Protection, a group founded, naturally, by Al Gore. Whenever I hear the word “alliance” used in a political context, especially with Gore’s name attached, I’m reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s definition of the word that I ran across recently:
al•li•ance (É™ lÄ«-É™ns) n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third
The likes of Pelosi, Gore and now apparently Gingrich are devoting themselves to discrediting Bierce’s definition by attempting to grow a third arm and hand.
On Gingrich’s website, Newt amended his participation in the climate change ad with this explanation: “I don’t think we have conclusive proof of global warming. And I don’t think we have conclusive proof that humans are at the center of it.”
Newt says it’s important for conservatives to engage in the debate, and that’s true. But what conservative works to apply solutions to problems they don’t even know exist? This is the kind of bureaucratic “overpriced cart before the phantom horse” approach that people like Gingrich were originally sent to DC to fight against.
Will Pelosi reciprocate by, say, working to get taxes lowered just in case it’s true that high taxes harm the economy? Of course not. Republican politicians, past and present, have earned the nickname “Tootsie Pop spelunkers” because they’re the party of suckers who cave easily, and Newt’s not helping change that reputation.
Gingrich is being duped, and I thought he was smarter than this. Perhaps the years and years of being bashed, vilified, knocked and kicked around has led to a case of Stockholm Syndrome so severe that Newt’s actually started to sprout skis – which will come in handy when he’s vacationing in the mountains of Idaho with the Kerrys.
The Republican revolution of ’94 now seems like it was so long ago that it never happened, doesn’t it? Did it ever really happen at all?
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