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Newt in His Own Words 33 Years of Bomb Throwing

Newt in His Own Words 33 Years of Bomb Throwing

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Published by: Ken Connor on May 27, 2011
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Newt in His Own Words: 33 Years of Bomb-ThrowingGingrich is announcing he's running for president. Too bad he can't run from comments likethese.By Tim Murphy and David Corn | Thu Apr. 7, 2011 12:01 AM PDTEditor's Note (5/10/11): Well, it kind of seems official. On Monday, a spokesman for NewtGingrich announced that on Wednesday Gingrich would announce on Twitter and Facebook thathe is running for president. (How suspenseful!) And in the days since commentators have beendissecting the former House speaker's past: his messy personal life (two divorces, threemarriages), his erratic policy pronouncements, his combative politicking. But given that Gingrichhas thirty-plus years of extreme conduct, many of his past excesses end up being truncated andcompacted into characterizations. ("Known for his often controversial remarks...") The full Newt isoften given short shrift. But a month ago, Tim Murphy and David Corn set out to chronicleGingrich's 33 years of rhetorical extremism. They ended up with a long list. A very long list.Newt Gingrich, a preseason 2012 Republican contender, likes to present himself as an ideasman. He is a former college professor and the architect of the ideology-driven 1994 RepublicanRevolution. But for all his references to Camus and Clausewitz, there's another side to the former House speaker—a verbal bomb-thrower who's never met a political crisis he couldn't analogize tothe annexation of the Sudetenland.Gingrich was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. He learned quickly that aback-bencher in the minority party could distinguish himself and gain attention in Washington byemploying extreme rhetoric. Ever in attack-mode, Gingrich swiftly moved up the ranks within theHouse GOP caucus. Democrats accused him of practicing "skinhead politics," and a 1989Washington Post profile declared him "notorious [1]" and "defiant." But his political thuggeryworked, and he led the GOPers in their historic retaking of the House and became speaker. Hedid not last long in the post. After a rocky stint—marked by a government shutdown, his party'ssex-and-lies impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton, and several ethicscontroversies involving Gingrich—the GOP lost seats in the 1998 election, and Gingrich resignedas speaker and left the House. (During this time, he was having an extramarital affair with acongressional aide who would eventually become his third [2], and present, wife.)In his post-House years, Gingrich, at times, toned down the rhetoric. He worked with HillaryClinton on health care IT issues [3]. He sat on a couch [4] with Nancy Pelosi to highlight their jointsupport for climate change action. After the 2008 election, he called for policymaking that wouldunite [5] Democrats, Republicans, and independents. He blasted [6] a candidate for GOPchairman who circulated a parody song called "Barack the Magic Negro." Still, he wasn't able toescape the siren call of overheated oratory. He repeatedly bashed the "secular left [7]" for attempting to destroy the country, and as he has moved closer to declaring a presidential bid, heincreasingly has returned to the hooligan ways of his past.So here's a rather incomplete guide to Gingrich's greatest (or worst) hits of the past 33 years. Ashe might say, it's the most accurate, predictive model for his future behavior.1978 In an address to College Republicans before he was elected to the House, Gingrich says[8]: "I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don't encourageyou to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those BoyScout words." He added, "Richard Nixon…Gerald Ford…They have done a terrible job, a pathetic job. In my lifetime, in my lifetime—I was born in 1943—we have not had a competent nationalRepublican leader. Not ever."1980 On the House floor, Gingrich states, "The reality is that this country is in greater danger thanat any time since 1939."
 
1980 Gingrich says [9]: "We need a military four times the size of our present defense system."(See 1984.)1983 A major milestone: Gingrich cites former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on theHouse floor: "If in fact we are to follow the Chamberlain liberal Democratic line of withdrawal fromthe planet," he explains [10], "we would truly have tyranny everywhere, and we in America couldexperience the joys of Soviet-style brutality and murdering of women and children."1983 He compares Democratic Speaker Tip O'Neill to Chamberlain: "He may not know anybetter. He may not understand freedom versus slavery...in the tradition of [former British PrimeMinisters] Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain, whose only weakness was they left their nation with war with Nazi Germany."1984 "I am not a super hawk."1984 Gingrich takes advantage of the arrival of C-Span to deliver scathing condemnations of hiscolleagues. He accuses Democrats of appeasement and distributing "communist propaganda[11]," and threatens to press charges against them for writing a letter to Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega. House Speaker Tip O'Neill calls it "the lowest thing that I've ever seen in my 32years in Congress."1984 Gingrich touts a study being compiled by conservative House Republicans, noting it "willargue that it is time to stop challenging or seeming to challenge the patriotism of Democrats andliberals. Enough historical evidence exists."1984 "It used to be called socialism. It is now just sort of liberal Democratic platform pledges."1985 Gingrich calls [12] Reagan's upcoming meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev ''the mostdangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich.''1985 Gingrich compares a disputed House election [13] in Indiana to the Holocaust. "We havetalked a lot in recent weeks about the Holocaust, about the incredible period in which NaziGermany killed millions of people and, in particular, came close to wiping out European Jewry.Someone said to me two days ago, talking frankly about the McIntyre affair [in which Democratsrefused to seat the winner of a House race until they'd conducted a recount] and the efforts by theDemocratic leadership not to allow the people of Indiana to have their representative but, instead,to impose upon them somebody else, something in which he quotes [German poet Martin]Niemoller, and I have never quite until tonight been able to link it together—Niemoller, the greatGerman theologian, said at one point [14]: 'When the Nazis came for the Jews, I did nothing…andwhen the Nazis came for me, there was no one left.'"1985 Upset with Democrats' foreign policy stance, Gingrich observes, "Adolph Hitler mustsomewhere be burning in hell, wishing he had lived two generations later, so he could manipulateAmericans instead of Englishmen."1985 He's got the world in the palm of his hand: "I have an enormous personal ambition [15]. Iwant to shift the entire planet…I just had breakfast with [administration officials Richard] Darmanand [David] Stockman [16] because I'm unavoidable. I represent real power."1987 Gingrich takes to the House floor to decry…pretty much everything about the Democratic-run House: "After the first five months of this Congress, I must report to my fellow citizens that this100th Congress may be the most irresponsible, destructive, corrupt, and unrepresentativeCongress of the modern era... In future weeks, I will make a series of speeches outlining thethreats of corruption, of communism, and of the left-wing machine which runs the House."
 
1988 Gingrich discusses his midlife crisis: "I spent a fair length of time trying to come to grips withwho I was and the habits I had, and what they did to people that I truly loved [17]. I really spent aperiod of time where, I suspect, I cried three or four times a week. I read Men Who Hate Womenand the Women Who Love Them and I found frightening pieces that related to...my own life."1989 He explains to the Washington Post why he fights with his second wife, Marianne: "It's noteven that it matters to me. It's just the habit of dominance [18], the habit of being the center of mystaff and the center of the news media." Newt gives the marriage a "53–47" shot of surviving.1989 After taking down Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas) by filing a string of ethics charges,Gingrich basks in his role as giant-killer. "If you're not in the Washington Post every day," he says[19], "you might as well not exist."1989 Gingrich lays out [20] his electoral roadmap: "The left-wing Democrats will represent theparty of total hedonism, total exhibitionism, total bizarreness, total weirdness, and the total right tocripple innocent people in the name of letting hooligans loose."1989 "These people are sick," he says [21] of congressional Democrats. "They are so consumedby their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal humanbeings and to destroy honest institutions is unending." He also warns that unless the Democratsare stopped, "we may literally see our freedom decay and decline."1990 Gingrich's political action committee, GOPAC, sends out a memo titled [22] "Language: AKey Mechanism of Control" to several thousand Republican candidates running for state andlocal offices. It includes a list of words they should use to describe Democrats:decay, failure (fail) collapse(ing) deeper, crisis, urgent(cy), destructive, destroy, sick, pathetic,lie, liberal, they/them, unionized bureaucracy, "compassion" is not enough, betray,consequences, limit(s), shallow, traitors, sensationalists, endanger, coercion, hypocricy, radical,threaten, devour, waste, corruption, incompetent, permissive attitude, destructive, impose, self-serving, greed, ideological, insecure, anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs; pessimistic, excuses,intolerant, stagnation, welfare, corrupt, selfish, insensitive, status quo, mandate(s) taxes, spend(ing) shame, disgrace, punish (poor...) bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power, machine,bosses, obsolete, criminal rights, red tape, patronage.1990 Speaking privately to a group of supporters, Gingrich says he's changing his public rolefrom "explainer of political tactics to explainer of cultural change."1992 While campaigning for President George H. W. Bush in Georgia, Gingrich uses WoodyAllen [23] as a symbol for what Democrats want to do to America: "Woody Allen had non-incestwith his non-daughter because they were a non-family." He adds, "It fits the Democratic Partyplatform perfectly." Bush distances himself from the remarks.1994 A South Carolina woman, Susan Smith, murders her two sons. Gingrich draws the onlylogical conclusion [24]: "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividlyreminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things.The only way you get change is to vote Republican."1994 He sums up [25] his political philosophy: "People like me are what stand between us andAuschwitz. I see evil all around me every day."1995 Following the House GOP's triumphant 1994 election victory, Gingrich sends all theRepublican freshman House members copies of the GOPAC memo suggesting they refer to their opponents as "traitors [22]."1995 Gingrich releases a novel he co-authored, 1945, in which the Waffen-SS invades eastern

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