Skip to comments.The Past and the Present (Thomas Sowell on Newt Gingrich)
Posted on 12/19/2011 9:59:22 AM PST by jazusamo
If Newt Gingrich were being nominated for sainthood, many of us would vote very differently from the way we would vote if he were being nominated for a political office.
What the media call Gingrich's "baggage" concerns largely his personal life and the fact that he made a lot of money running a consulting firm after he left Congress. This kind of stuff makes lots of talking points that we will no doubt hear, again and again, over the next weeks and months.
But how much weight should we give to this stuff when we are talking about the future of a nation?
This is not just another election and Barack Obama is not just another president whose policies we may not like. With all of President Obama's broken promises, glib demagoguery and cynical political moves, one promise he has kept all too well. That was his boast on the eve of the 2008 election: "We are going to change the United States of America."
Many Americans are already saying that they can hardly recognize the country they grew up in. We have already started down the path that has led Western European nations to the brink of financial disaster.
Internationally, it is worse. A president who has pulled the rug out from under our allies, whether in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, tried to cozy up to our enemies, and has bowed low from the waist to foreign leaders certainly has not represented either the values or the interests of America. If he continues to do nothing that is likely to stop terrorist-sponsoring Iran from getting nuclear weapons, the consequences can be beyond our worst imagining.
Against this background, how much does Newt Gingrich's personal life matter, whether we accept his claim that he has now matured or his critics' claim that he has not? Nor should we sell the public short by saying that they are going to vote on the basis of tabloid stuff or media talking points, when the fate of this nation hangs in the balance.
Even back in the 19th century, when the scandal came out that Grover Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock and he publicly admitted it the voters nevertheless sent him to the White House, where he became one of the better presidents.
Do we wish we had another Ronald Reagan? We could certainly use one. But we have to play the hand we were dealt. And the Reagan card is not in the deck.
While the televised debates are what gave Newt Gingrich's candidacy a big boost, concrete accomplishments when in office are the real test. Gingrich engineered the first Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 40 years followed by the first balanced budget in 40 years. The media called it "the Clinton surplus" but all spending bills start in the House of Representatives, and Gingrich was Speaker of the House.
Speaker Gingrich also produced some long overdue welfare reforms, despite howls from liberals that the poor would be devastated. But nobody makes that claim any more.
Did Gingrich ruffle some feathers when he was Speaker of the House? Yes, enough for it to cost him that position. But he also showed that he could produce results.
In a world where we can make our choices only among the alternatives actually available, the question is whether Newt Gingrich is better than Barack Obama and better than Mitt Romney.
Romney is a smooth talker, but what did he actually accomplish as governor of Massachusetts, compared to what Gingrich accomplished as Speaker of the House? When you don't accomplish much, you don't ruffle many feathers. But is that what we want?
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone? Does a candidate who represents the bland leading the bland increase the chances of victory in November 2012? A lot of candidates like that have lost, from Thomas E. Dewey to John McCain.
Those who want to concentrate on the baggage in Newt Gingrich's past, rather than on the nation's future, should remember what Winston Churchill said: "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." If that means a second term for Barack Obama, then it means lost big time.
That’s not how I read Steyn’s article. He seems to think if Newt is still standing, then we have no alternative.
Here’s the prior post.
Not if your only choices were Newt, Hitler and Stalin.
That is the expected answer one would expect from a Newter. No dialogue - just name calling.
I didn’t read that as an endorsement per se, but more of a recitation of the facts, and no real reason to oppose Gingrich.
You mean a sometime conservative, sometime liberal suck up, Republican backstabbing, amnesty loving, consummate insider, "maverick"? Na, no similarity at all.
As far as I am concerned in the national election...anybody but Obama.
And as far as the GOP nominee, any body but Romney (and Huntsman).
Thanks, you’re right. Steyn obviously hates Newt.
I’ll take Newt’s brains over Steyn’s quips any day. I imagine Dr. Sowell would, too.
Sowell is where many of us are. Newt is the least worse option. That is not high praise.
I love and respect Dr. Sowell and have become a Newt supporter since Herman Cain dropped out.
Within 6-7 weeks five votes will have been held and we will have a much better picture of how the primary is forming.
I've decided that over the Holy Days, I'm going to try to hold back on my acid posts and bomb throwing at supporters of other FReepers losing candidates.
Check my tag line and remember, I don't want to nuke all mooselimbs, we will save both moderates when they are identified.
I’m not name-calling. I’ve stated a fact.
Yes, you have.
the ABBB crowd will be full chorus before new years...
So what? I'm a big Sarah fan, bought her books and went to her rallies, but at this point, why would her endorsement influence my vote?
If you think that those of us that love and respect Sarah are mind numbed Sarah-bots you are so wrong, and it's easy to see why you are anti Newt, you are brainless.
Dr. Sowell’s article is superb. But as Andy Mccarthy (who dissented from National Review’s Editorial against Newt) writes in today’s NRO, Newt’s statements are so utterly implausible that it is like giving Obama a wrecking ball to launch against Newt. As other FReepers have pointed out the problem with Newt, is Newt. With Reagan we could all confidently say “Let Reagan be Reagan” and we can’t say this with Newt.
Someone like Thomas Sowell, making logical sense and pointing out something positive about why we need a man like Newt leading the country! That won’t do! (/s)
Well then you sound perfectly happy with Romney or Paul.
Keep up the great effort to help the Democrats put the finishing touches on destroying the country. You did your part, It must make you happy and proud.
Well then you sound perfectly happy with Romney or Paul.
Either you can’t read or you don’t think Romney or Paul are RINO’s.
Saw it, They are competing with the ABNG crowd. The ABBAR crowd is shrinking.
I used to think Steyn was the smartest man in the room.
He still thinks he is.
Sowell has the smarts to see the worth of Newt.
Steyn doesn’t have the same stake - he’s not even a US citizen.
Correction, the ABBNG crowd.
It’s coming down to Paul, Romney or Newt. The country would survive Newt. Paul is unelectable and Romney would crush the conservative movement. I don’t see a heck of a lot of options.
I'm thinking of the Speaker who oversaw the contract With America, four consecutive budget surlpuses and the only significant welfare reform ever passed. He's the man who was totally exonerated of any wrongdoing after a four year investigation by the IRS.
In which of those years did the national debt not increase?
Here’s the record of the national debt over the four years you like to cite:
Maybe you could point-out the surplus to me. I’m having trouble finding it.
You left out "elitist" and "Beltway". /s
You know, I didn't even mention that as a "similarity" but, come to think of it, Gingrich's cover up, for which he paid a huge fine, does remind me of McCain's "Keating Five" antics.
You started out with a shovel, then you had to bring in the backhoe.
Anyone who has ever owned a home, or taken a loan has benefitted more, comparatively, that Gingrich did from FNMA.
If Steyn is promoting Romney, and he seems to be doing so, I am disappointed in Steyn. The problem is, once again, conservatives have no candidate worth voting for and I am heartily sick of voting against someone instead of for someone.
It seems that is what it has come to and I don't think any of it matters any more after our TEA Party Congress passed the Patriot Act or whatever it's called, the one that rips up Posse Comitatus and designates the USA as a War Zone. No incoming president, no incoming party will repeal that monstrosity because even the best(barring possibly the resurrection of Reagan) will see it as possibly useful. That law is the line that we have crossed on the way to the Total State and Lenin's dream. There is no going back now and I fear we cannot even slow the locomotive.
February 3, 1999 Web posted at: 11:43 a.m. EST (1643 GMT)
WASHINGTON (February 3)
The Internal Revenue Service Wednesday cleared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of an alleged tax law violation in connection with a controversial college course he taught. . . . Democrats said it was a campaign gimmick and filed ethics complaints accusing him of illegal use of tax-exempt funds for political purposes.
A tax expert hired by the House Ethics Committee said the course violated tax laws . . .
. . . . "The ... course taught principles from American civilization that could be used by each American in everyday life whether the person is a welfare recipient, the head of a large corporation, or a politician." . . . .
After filing over seventy "ethics charges" angainst Newt, the Dems finally made one stick, but the IRS found nothing wrong and recommended the college course in question to anyone.
Good for Thomas Sowell. The RINO GOP Establishment fears Newt because he has a track record of cutting Govt and shaking up Washington. They also fear that we will alienate those precious Independents the GOP wants. Newt has a track record of Cutting Govt, Reform, and Balanced Budgets. Mitt has a track record of compromise, compromise, and more compromise. Mitt will say, “I am Pres of All the people”, and he will cave into the Dems on every issue.
Pretty pictures of accounting gimmicks.
Tell me again which was the last year the National Debt decreased.
Can you name one important positive thing that Romney accomplished as governor of Massachusetts? Can anyone?
Well, can anyone?
I showed you the four consecutive years of Federal Budget surpluses that Newt's tenure as Speaker of the House of Representatives gave us.
Let's speak English on this forum.
“His consulting is just more of the same influence peddling and crony capitalism that is killing this country.”
It is not influence peddling and crony capitalism that are killing this country. This country can survive an almost infinite amount of influence peddling and crony capitalism.
It is the left. The left, the left, the left. They hate our country, its system, and its constitution. They are at war with us, and people sit around grumbling about influence peddling and crony capitalism.
Oh, oh, I have a .50 caliber round through my heart, but never mind that, there’s a crony capitalism pimple on my nose.
Is that you?
Dan’s not here.
Sorry, Wrong Finny...
Pay to play is the left left left. It’s just another form of fascism. If you want to see countries with slightly worse cronyism look at African countries. Nothing gets done without a little grease. It doesn’t matter what for a government takes if the corruption steals the ability for business to get done efficiently. Either you don’t get it or you are involved in it.
My home didn’t cost anywhere near that much and I don’t do government loans.
But ... I thought I was the only one!
“It doesnt matter what for a government takes if the corruption steals the ability for business to get done efficiently.”
That is only true if one presumes that our Republic will not be replaced by a system resembling that of the USSR.
Otherwise, where there is money to be made, business will be conducted.
I spent the 90's securitizing mortgages from FNMA, FHLMC, and GNMA, structuring them into CMOs and trading them. For decades, these agencies existed with little or no controversy, succeeding in their mandate to free up capital for banks, so that they would be able to create more loans to homeowners. The MBS market became the largest credit market in the world, larger than US Treasuries. The problems that we are now dealing with can be traced directly back to changes in how the GSEs went about doing business, starting in the late 80's, when they started trading and inventoring their own products, and then exacerbated during the Clinton Administration, when they were required to adjust their credit quality standards (particularly for minority homeowners). While the GSEs get all of the blame for what took place, they actually provided a very valuable service to American homeowners, and to the economy. Again, for decades they operated profitably. And because of their size, they lowered interest rates for all borrowers. Assuming your home is your largest investment you benefitted directly from the GSEs. Assuming you have ever taken a loan from anyone (including holding a credit card), you benefitted indirectly.
Newt’s background definitely matters, but what matters more is the maturity of the electorate, and its ability to comprehend the gravity of the Nation’s state.