FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Shine On You Crazy Diamond

When it comes to hypocrisy, few can keep pace with Newt Gingrich, ace “fiscal conservative.” He maintains a $500,000 Tiffany account for his pompadour-styled third wife, whom he married after a secret six-year affair when he was married and she was a Congressional underling.

Since the Tiffany revelation, questions arose about the account. Stephen Colbert says there’s a simple explanation, “He buys his engagement rings in bulk.”

In this Republican-midgets-for-President season, Gingrich may become an also ran, brought down by his high living, expanding waistband and oversized ego. Others suffered similar falls: “hockey mom” Sara Palin was caught spending $150,000 on a wardrobe paid for by the Republican Party, and Democratic working class hopeful John Edwards was cut low after revelations about his $400 haircuts.

A dated anachronism trying to make a comeback, Gingrich authored “Contract on America,” a mafia-style hit list capitalizing on middle-class anger at Democrats for assisting minorities. Gingrich used their support to phase out the middle class, in favor of the rich and well-connected.

Sometimes called a “compulsive loudmouth,” Gingrich cherished goals of shrinking the government to maintaining roads and a strong national military, promoting buyer-beware free enterprise, and returning the country to a Victorian Age morality.

As Speaker of the House, Gingrich said he wanted to make people take care of themselves without any help from the government. He thought people should have to suffer. “That’s the way it should be,” he told voters in Georgia. He believed that the wealthy should be able to enjoy their luxury homes, their foreign cars and high-priced jewelry without having to help anyone else or give a penny to government, except for minimal services.

Newt Gingrich told young Republicans: “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty.”

True to his word, Newt Gingrich and a group of his right-wing cronies reshaped the Republican Party, gained control of Congress in 1994, and pursued a mean-spirited extremist agenda aimed at issues like eliminating Federal nutrition standards for public school meals and stymying a meat inspection system designed to protect the public from deadly E. coli bacteria. He led the Republicans in attacking Medicare and Medicaid and attempted to overturn clean air, clean water, and all environmental regulation. He denounced the Environmental Protection Agency as the ‘”Gestapo,” drastically cut taxes for billionaires, and refused to raise the minimum wage to $5.25 an hour.

Gingrich played an important role during President Clinton’s impeachment trial, when he pledged, “I will never again, as long as I am Speaker, make a speech without commenting on this topic.” Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas, Gingrich’s minority whip at the time, praised Gingrich for “doing the Lord’s work in the Devil’s city,” evidently Washington, D.C.

While Speaker, Gingrich fought with other ultra-conservatives who insisted on radical cuts in the federal budget. He called them “perfectionists” who didn’t understand political compromise. Nevertheless, he’s credited with shutting down the government because the president made him ride in the back of Air Force One. Later, he played a key role in designing and implementing commercial radio ads against President Clinton and promoting his impeachment, while Gingrich himself was conducting a six-year-long illicit affair with his current wife.

One political scientist from the University of Richmond said, “He thought he could take over Western civilization because he was Speaker and the Republican Party was his army.” By the time Gingrich stepped down from the speakership of the House, 18 percent of voters saw him favorably while 43 percent gave him an unfavorable rating.

Besides pioneering nasty politics in Washington, Gingrich also pioneered unethical elections by using tax-exempt groups as a private piggy bank. The House Ethics Committee fined him $300,000 for promoting Republican Party goals with taxpayer funds and lying about it. Gopac, Gingrich’s former Republican political action committee, gave him money for his 1990 Congressional campaign and he used Gopac consultants to develop his legislative agenda, while yet another consultant was his main political strategist. Former Republican senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, offered to loan Gingrich $300,000 to pay his fine, interest free.

Additionally, Gingrich angered small business owners, who were targeted by a National Republican Congressional Committee telemarketing campaign to extort $1000 donations in exchange for “national leadership awards” from Speaker Newt Gingrich’s office. The speaker’s promises of fame, influence and power are not illegal per se in politics, but they would be investigated if done by a private company.

At the time same he was violating the law, Gingrich was promising to cut taxes in half and capital gains to 15 percent, goals since achieved by Republicans, who are unabashedly calling for even lower rates as a goal in the coming election. Now Gingrich is back on the campaign trail, accompanied by a wife draped in diamonds, and claiming he’s fiscally conservative. He pays his bills because he’s become rich promoting himself among reactionary, right-wing groups. If you’ll only elect him president, he promises to increase his Tiffany account to $50 million.

Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer.

 

 

More articles by:

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail