Gingrich Continues To Prove What He Knows, Demonstrate What He Hasn’t Learned

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Last Friday, this space was dedicated to the problems of Newt Gingrich coming “home” to address a Georgia GOP base that has changed significantly since he last served as Congressman and Speaker. That night, he addressed convention delegates as the headline speaker at their dinner, and was greeted somewhere between politely and enthusiastically. The headlines coming out of the convention dealing with Presidential candidates, however, gave the edge on intensity to relative newcomer Herman Cain.

The main need cited here last week for Gingrich was to demonstrate in the face of his many missteps from his earlier political career that he find an ability to quit showing voters what he knows, and demonstrate what he has learned. Gingrich has long prided himself on his reputation as an idea factory. There is no problem that can be thrown at Newt where he can’t respond with an off-the cuff stream of consciousness which will no doubt include a historical reference, a citation of Alvin Toffler, an appeal to “outside the box thinking”, and at least one sometimes-subtle-but- sometimes-not challenge to accepted conservative conventional thinking to demonstrate that he is a thought leader and not just citing partisan talking points.

Since Friday, we’ve learned a lot about what Gingrich hasn’t learned, as his being slightly upstaged by Herman Cain at the Georgia GOP convention may have been the highlight of his week. Sunday Morning, Newt appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press to denounce Paul Ryan’s budget plan as “right wing social engineering”, earning immediate and uniform scorn from GOP elected officials and DC pundits alike.

He was greeted by a Republican activist in Iowa who angrily asked “why don’t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?” He was blasted by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for “cutting Ryan off at the knees.” Others made it clear that he had just given Democrats across the board in 2012 a sound bite that will keep on giving. Gingrich’s response was to issue a quixotic proclamation that he would be happy to cut an ad for anyone whose Gingrich’s quotes were used against, seeming to totally miss the point that the last thing a candidate being attacked with a Gingrich quote may want to associate themselves with is …Gingrich.

Gingrich further knee-capped himself with his excuse that he felt the format was a series of set ups by Meet the Press, as if he was unfamiliar the a program that has been on the air longer than his political career and that he has appeared on more than thirty times. A candidate that mastered the use of the media against his political opponents when in the House minority was reduced do whining about liberal media after self inflicting wounds. Hardly Presidential.

Gingrich’s extemporaneous intellectualism has long been his strength, but one that was formerly used on a very different playing field of the legislative branch. Gingrich has now entered a contest for the chief executive of the United States, where skills of self discipline and consistency and firmness in decision making are valued over thinking out loud.

Gingrich has earned a revered place in the history of Republican politics for his past contributions. As the architect and leader of the congressional Republican Revolution in 1994, Gingrich delivered the promised land to his people. Yet Republicans also must add the uncomfortable memory to the picture that Gingrich did not leave office at the hands of Democrats, but by being forced out by members of his own party. It is very difficult for those who lead Revolutions to govern afterward, and Gingrich was proven no exception to this rule.

Republicans now seek another trip to the majority, and have hopefully learned from their mistakes the last time they held the White House and Congress that will not be repeated. Gingrich’s first week as a Presidential candidate has, unfortunately, demonstrated how much he has not learned. The man that knows too much has learned little. As such, Gingrich’s return to Georgia may be a shorter trip than planned.


  1. NoTeabagging says:

    Personally, I do not want to hear from or about any candidate for at least 8 months. Newt forgot one important rule, the first candidate out of the gate quickly becomes overexposed, over scrutinized, tedious, annoying, boring and quickly forgotten when the major players finally enter the race. I hope he steps up the pace. I’d love a little peace and quiet.

  2. ted in bed says:

    Your title nailed Newt exactly. I left the Convention dinner thinking Newt has it figured out. Lots of great ideas BUT there was something missing. I thought it was the Calista issue that bothered me. Especially when he mentioned his “three projects with Calista” at the end of the talk.

    Instead, he hasn’t learned. That is what bothers me. He doesn’t ever go back in time and analyze what happened and what went wrong. He just spouts off about his ideas to prove he is the smartest man in the room (BTW- he ain’t).

    Contrast that with Herman who explains his problem solving approach, which includes an analysis of the problem.

  3. Spacey G says:

    You left out being doused with glitter for opposing gay rights/marriage… my personal favorite Newt Humiliation of the last few days.

    • Charlie says:

      I thought about including that, and his jewelry problem, but decided the point was better made that Gingrich’s biggest problem right now is Gingrich. The glitter incident was outside agitation, and the Tiffany’s bill is old and arguably non-political.

      That said, my favorite tweet from the last week was along the lines of “You have to admit, when gettting doused with glitter at an event is the 4th worst thing to happen to your campaign, you’re having a bad day”

  4. KD_fiscal conservative says:

    I still think Newt IS one of the smartest conservative thinkers around and surely one of the best policy makers. While others just repeat broad ideology, he actually has the ability to turn that ideology into practical policy, unlike many of today’s ‘conservative icons.’

    Now I could just say in a party that favors senseless short sound bites(Drill, Baby Drill; No new taxes…etc.) a man of intellect and professor-like nuance will never be appreciated, but this time I don’t think it was simpleton’s fault, Newt shot himself in the foot, didn’t learn anything and did it again and again. Newt needs to learn a thing or two from the other candidates, and just “play the game” he needs and come up with some new “GOP friendly” soundbytes of his own (those stale mid-1990s, ‘welfare, food stamps…etc’ aren’t going to cut it) and then just stick to the script (or teleprompter).

  5. drjay says:

    gingrich has always come off as very smug, and full of himself, even by politician standards, his demeanor was great for a whip and he was brilliant leading up to the 94 election, but the governing that occurs after the fact always seemed to elude him–in a way, what happened in 95 is what makes me a bit wary of a lot of the tea party types, gringrich et al overplayed their hand with the shut down, and eliminating depts., and medicare “whithering on the vine” and such, and pushing so hard so fast, they frankly scared a lot of the mushy middle right back into reelecting clinton in 96, his time has come and gone, this isn’t nixon in 68, people want to move forward–there was a joke when he was toying with a run in 08 about him and hillary both running and partying like it was 1995….

  6. NoTeabagging says:

    I have tried posting this several times but it does not get through:
    reprint of letter published 4/1/2011 by ATL writer Topher Payne
    “Dear Newt,
    Can I call you Newt? As a fellow Georgian, I feel we can relate in a down-home, folksy kinda way.

    We have things in common, you and me. We both like Reese’s peanut butter cups. Neither of us is actually from Georgia. We have funny names. We both failed to have lasting relationships with women.

    Anyhoo, I saw on the news that you’ve got some interest in being our next president. I don’t know why you would want that. When you’re president, people will come after you for any indiscretion and publicly humiliate you. Remember what happened to Bill Clinton, with the impeachment hearings stemming from his extramarital affair? Oh, silly me, of course you remember that. You were leading the charge against him. While you were having an extramarital affair. Boy, good thing nobody was watching you! You rascal.

    You revealed your plan to stop the homosexual agenda with “pro-Classical Christianity” governance. I was unfamiliar with this term. Fortunately, Classical Christianity has a website. Don’t you love the internet?

    I learned from that these particular “Christians” openly welcome and accept people with “homosexual or other extramarital sexual impulses.” Yippee. Not sure how we got lumped in with adulterers, but the invite is still appreciated. Oh, but you do have to make a vow of chastity. You can be gay, you just can’t, you know, BE gay. Damn fine print. It’ll get you every time.

    Delving further into the site, I found a fascinating discussion regarding the sanctity of marriage. Classical Christianity, not surprisingly, is a big fan of pairing up for life. I myself am in favor of that, so we’re on the same page.

    The Classical Christianity website allows for the possibility that divorce is, on rare occasions, the only choice for a couple. But multiple divorces indicate a man is incapable of leadership, because he cannot manage to commit to the most basic and fundamental of all institutions: marriage.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you currently on your third wife? So, if you’re truly committed to governing under the ideals of “Classical Christianity,” you should go ahead and announce you are unfit to be president.

    But if you really want this campaign, make a very bold move. You’re skirting around hate speech by saying marriage equality, hate crimes legislation, and the repeal of DADT run counter to the will of the “overwhelming majority of Americans.”

    For whatever reason, several presidential contenders seem to believe that the greatest threat to American society is not unemployment, poverty, crime, or the hootenanny of wars we’re currently fighting. It’s those damn non-celibate gays.

    Well come on, Newt, let’s be bold about it. Run on a platform of outlawing homosexuality altogether. That’ll make you stand out from the pack! Present no economic or defense plan whatsoever. Make your campaign slogan “NEWT 2012: I JUST DON’T LIKE GAY PEOPLE,” and the overwhelming majority of Americans are certain to follow, right?

    Unless, of course, this is all just you pandering to the fuming and fearful. See, the worst part about all this is that I don’t believe you actually give two shits about “the sanctity of marriage,” or you’d actually stay married to someone.

    It’s all just talking points for a career politician who knows that disenfranchised Americans need someone to blame for their lot in life. They require a sense of Other. Someone to hate. Someone to hold up for ridicule and say, “You! You’re the reason life isn’t fair!”

    If you lived in a different time, you could select women, or black people, or Communists, or the Irish. But you live now. So you picked us. Which means your declared religious principles agree with my understanding of right and wrong in a single regard: Neither of us thinks you’re fit to be president. Look at that, we have something else in common.

    History will judge you the same way it’s judged Senator McCarthy, or George Wallace, or the Puritans. Common sense will prevail. You will be reviled, and then pitied, and then forgotten. And that, Newt, is a small consolation.”

    Topher Payne is an Atlanta-based playwright, and the author of the book “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.”

  7. cheapseats says:

    Newt is either a has-been or a never-was-been.

    The “gay” thing is a non-starter. I’ve been married over 30 years to the same woman so I don’t really care who loves who or who is sleeping with who – just doesn’t effect me.

    Either focus on the pocket-book issues that effect us all or sit down and STFU because who you are sleeping with doesn’t matter to anybody other than you.

    Huntsmann or Obama? you can decide this.

  8. NoTeabagging says:

    Maybe, Newt can further entertain us with the surfacing of illegitimate Newt-spawn. It is so fashionable these days.

  9. saltycracker says:


    “Gingrich has now entered a contest for the chief executive of the United States, where skills of self discipline and consistency and firmness in decision making are valued over thinking out loud.”

    “Gingrich has earned a revered place in the history of Republican politics for his past contributions.”

    Excellent…..Not interested in bashing him but thanking him, listening to him & picking a different candidate.

  10. SOGTP says:

    I kind of agree with Newt about Ryan’s budget. It is right wing centralized planning.

    Ryan’s budget is a defacto admission that the Republicans intend to seal into history the welfare state with slightly less debt than Obama.

    • John Konop says:


      I am confused what the TEA Party position is on healthcare?

      1) Debbie Dooley Co-Founder of the Atlanta Tea Party claims you guys are against mandates ie personal responsibility for people who can afford health insurance.
      2) According to the polls the majority of Tea Party members want no cuts to Medicare ie you guys scream rationing
      3) The Tea Party is against directives on end of life care major fiscal solution ie you guys scream killing grandmother
      4) You claim the organization is based on fiscal responsibility

      Please help me understand how what you support adds up? It sounds like a bunch of spoiled kids with their hands out.

    • Three Jack says:

      sogtp, you make a strong point about the ryan budget as it represents the gop surrendering to fdr and lbj’s ‘great society’ programs. i would be much more supportive of a bill that gradually ends medicare, ss and all the freeloader programs, i.e. medicaid, s.n.a.p., schip…..

      but in the real world, once folks gets a spot at the trough, they will not be pulled away. thus ryan put forth a proposal acknowledging this reality. the plan does at least start the debate over medicare, ss and freeloader entitlements. unfortunately it is the best we can hope for at this point in time.

  11. Dave Bearse says:

    “hopefully learned from their mistakes the last time they held the White House and Congress that will not be repeated.”

    An unnecessary trillion dollar war, and the worst economic crash in 80 years, and folks are supposed to be hopeful the GOP learned from it?

    The GOP is still advocating for the very things that caused the foregoing. It’s the Einstein definition of insanity—do the same things and hope for different outcomes.

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