Skip to comments.Newt the Compassionate (He's not as mean as some people think he is)
Posted on 12/07/2011 7:05:11 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Newt Gingrich wants to pay poor kids to clean toilets. And all of the right people are horrified. The Nation says Gingrich is running on a platform that seems to have been written by the unreformed Ebenezer Scrooge. The editors of the Newark Star-Ledger proclaim Gingrich wants to bring back the days of Oliver Twist. The host of Meet the Press, David Gregory, suggests Gingrichs take on the inner-city poor is a grotesque distortion.
This controversy started last month at Harvard, when Gingrich suggested in a speech that perhaps the best way to break the cycle of poverty in inner cities is to break the culture of poverty that sustains it by, among other things, paying kids to do janitorial work.
Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works, Gingrich explained recently in Iowa when asked to clarify his position. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of I do this and you give me cash, unless its illegal.
Its a classically Gingrichian spectacle, illuminating a lot about the presidential candidate, but also about his critics and his swarming ranks of fans.
Gingrich is a rhetorical yoga swami. As my National Review colleague Kevin Williamson says, he can shove his foot in his mouth while putting his finger on the issue. Gingrich is right about the culture of poverty, but he opens himself to easy rebuttal by speaking so sweepingly and categorically. And did he really have to pick toilet-scrubbing as his preferred workfare?
Still, what his critics dont or refuse to understand is that hes not driven by a lack of compassion, but a surplus of it. The liberal bureaucratic mindset seems to define compassion simply as spending more money on systems and policies that have made problems worse and keep the usual special interests happy.
Gingrich thinks compassion should be measured not by inputs but outputs. Spending trillions on poverty is beyond simply uncompassionate if you waste the money and make things worse. Its evil.
Anyone who wants to understand Gingrichs views on poverty should read his March 2008 speech at the American Enterprise Institute (where Im a visiting fellow). Gingrich rejected then-candidate Obamas suggestion that the legacy of racism combined with a failure to fund education to liberals satisfaction helps explain the pervasive achievement gap in poor inner-city schools.
That is simply factually false, Gingrich declared. The Detroit schools are the third or fourth most expensive schools in America. Theyre a disaster. Washington, D.C., schools perhaps the most expensive in the country dont languish because of racism, Gingrich explained. Theyre bad because D.C. has an incompetent bureaucracy, a failed model of education, a unionized tenured system. It is utterly resistant to improvement. That has nothing to do with racism.
He noted that when Newsweek asked Oprah Winfrey why she went to South Africa and not south Chicago to open a girls school, she responded: I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools that I just stopped going. The sense that you need to learn just isnt there. If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they dont ask for money or toys, they ask for uniforms so they can go to school.
Gingrich probably agrees with the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan more than any other leading conservative. The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society, Moynihan observed. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself. Yet, a constant theme of Gingrichs career is a desire to use government to fix the culture. Indeed, theres no Republican in the field with a more robust faith in the power of government.
Thats the irony of the Gingrich surge. All of these GOP voters and Tea Party activists who once supported Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, and Herman Cain and are now flocking to Gingrich seem not to have noticed Gingrichs progressive bent.
The primary season began with a race to see how much of the government we could send back to the states. Were now in the phase where the GOP front-runner is proposing janitorial reform in the schools.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
Read his books. Forget about what his lefty and RINO critics say about him. Listen to his speeches, study his accomplishments and MAKE UP YOUR OWN MIND!
NOOT isn’t as conservative as many think he is, nor is he nearly as intelligent as he thinks he is.
When your enemies have to misrepresent what you say in order to make a point, you know you have a winning theme.
I would love to see Jonah have a debate with Newt. We would all be able to see very clearly who the real conservative is.
Oh it is always somepony else's problem....
[ Were now in the phase where the GOP front-runner is proposing janitorial reform in the schools.
This phrase is utter nonsense, the sort I wouldn’t expect from Jonah Goldberg.
Gingrich proposed no new government program, no money spent, no new intrusive beaurecracy.
He proposed a repeal of federal government rules that overreach and make the poverty issue worse. On this issue, at least, his ideas were entirely consistent with smaller-government, conservative principles. ]
Newt is an idiot because he should have sold “Children Doing Janitorial” Work differently.
He should have said: “Children are expected to clean the classrooms in Japan”.
When dealing with a policy issue like and explaining to liberals you ALWAYS cite an “Enlightened Progressive” European or Asian country that already does it, this nullifies ANY liberal argument against it because Liberals always view those counties as being “better” than the USA.
Either double the meds or cut them in half.
FWIW Newt has strong support among younger voters.
“Newt has strong support among younger voters.”
Until he started insulting them.
Those who would be inclined to vote for Newt know that he’s right.