Newt Gingrich recently came to Colorado and, in superior tones, informed a group of people that he honestly does not know if he’ll be running for president in 2008.
If Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson adopts Gingrich’s ideas about what needs to happen in America, then he, Newt Gingrich, won’t have to launch a presidential bid. But if they don’t, or if Hillary Clinton appears to be running without “serious” opposition, then he, Newt Gingrich, may have no choice but to run.
It’s unclear why Gingrich feels he is the savior of today’s Grand Old Party. It’s not like he drew a big crowd – only about 100 people showed up to hear the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Keep reading.The event, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, was sponsored by the Pueblo-based Muslims for America, which has enthusiastically endorsed Gingrich for president. In attendance were former Colorado Senate President John Andrews and Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute.
Only two reporters, representing what Gingrich repeatedly denigrated as the “liberal” and the “elite” news media, showed up.
By contrast, Michael Moore’s visit to Colorado a couple of days later to promote SiCKO, his film about America’s busted health-care system, generated far more attention. But as Moore rallies crowds for health-care reform, Gingrich has dusted off his 1994 “Contract with America” script and is now harping about his latest incarnation, which he calls a “Conversation with America.”
It’s part of Gingrich’s organization, “American Solutions for Winning the Future”, which is promising to take us “From the world that fails to the world that works.” On the American Solutions Website is a futuristic-looking countdown clock with September 27 as D-Day. Not coincidentally, that day marks the 13th anniversary of the unveiling of Gingrich’s Contract With America.
This year on that day, Gingrich plans a six-hour “briefing” on the “key principles and concepts for transforming government from the world that fails into the world that works.”
Basically, the broad stroke goes like this: Americans, according to Gingrich, “know” their government is not working. In a poll that he conducted, Gingrich said 92 percent agreed we need long-term solutions. In another question, 85 percent believe we “must help defend America.” Another 67 percent “favor moving the government into the 21st century.” Profound transformation in bureaucracy is what America needs, Gingrich said
“The elite press doesn’t get it,” he said. But the 511,000 individuals who hold elected office in the U.S. must be forced to adopt a sea change.
During his Denver appearance, Gingrich used some of these anecdotes to underscore what he means:
“A recession,” he said, “is when your brother-in-law is unemployed. A depression is when you’re unemployed. A recovery is when Jimmy Carter is unemployed.”
Ha, ha! The group, mainly older, conservative and white, laughed uproariously.
Here’s another: There are, Gingrich says, 12 to 20 million people who are in the United States illegally. And the government can’t seem to keep track of them. By contrast, UPS and FedEx send packages all over the world, and they have a system that allows the sender to track the package to its final destination. So, Gingrich concludes, maybe we oughta spend a couple of million dollars and send packages to all the people who are in the United States illegally!
Ha, ha! The group appreciated that, too.
And another, this time an example of government actually working: A police department in California couldn’t figure out what to do about the increasing number of drug dealers in its community – until some bright bulb figured out that drug dealers ply their trade mostly at night and on weekends. Most of the vice officers were 9-to-5ers. So they changed their schedules around and – voila! – they started busting more drug dealers.
Hearty applause from the audience.
These were the kinds of insights Gingrich shared as part of his “Conversation with America,” which he actually described – with a straight face while at the same time swiping at “those of you on the left who like unemployment” – as “bipartisan.”
And no, he didn’t talk about serving his wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital being treated for cancer. He also didn’t explain his rationalization for leaving his second wife for a woman 23 years his junior – with whom he’d been having an affair for a year while he was leading the charge to impeach Bill Clinton over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
It wasn’t surprising that the man who spent much of the 1990s sermonizing about the “moral decay of the left” didn’t mention his own impurities. Perhaps he feels purged since finally admitting his affair on Focus on the Family chairman James Dobson’s radio show earlier this year. Gingrich said his past actions may have been immoral, but they weren’t illegal – in contrast, apparently, with Clinton, who lied about his affair.
This is the same man who is threatening to run for president if Giuliani, Thompson and Romney don’t start talking about what he wants them to talk about.
They’d do best to ignore him.
Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent, where a version of this column also appeared. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org