Newt! Leader of the Second American Revolution, by Dick Williams
Massscorecard.org BOOK REVIEW:
This book was written in 1995, when Newt Gingrich's was the newly-elected Speaker of the House. He had just engineered the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, and had not yet fallen from power after struggles with Pres. Bill Clinton. Hence this book is a snapshot of Newt at the peak of his power. If Newt runs for President in 2012, as currently seems likely, this book will become a valuable indicator of his views before any post-Clinton lessons.
The book is important for two reasons in the 2012 presidential race: it pinpoints where Newt stands on the scale of conservatism; and demonstrates the consistency of his political views over time. A few words on eachÂ
The 2012 Republican presidential primary will focus on "pure" conservatism vs. pragmatic electability. The pure conservatives will be the champions of the Tea Party, which currently prefers Gov. Sarah Palin but also have a less-controversial option in Gov. Mike Huckabee. Their mantra might be "Had enough of Obama? We're the real alternative." The pragmatic electable group is currently led by Gov. Mitt_Romney, who will be followed by the usual panoply of ambitious Republican Senators and Governors. Their mantra might be "Had enough of Obama? We can actually beat him."
That conflict -- ideological purity vs. electability -- is the classic conflict for the party challenging an incumbent president. For example, Sen. John Kerry (as the pragmatic choice) beat Gov. Howard Dean (as the ideological choice) for the 2004 Democratic nomination against Pres. Bush's re-election. Many pundits say that Kerry lost to Bush because Kerry was too pragmatic -- or as Bush characterized him, as a waffler on issues who had no core principles. Gov. Dean had flaws, but waffling was not one of them.
The trick to a successful challenge to an incumbent president is to gather support from both groups: the ideologues of your party AND the pragmatists. Newt Gingrich has positioned himself to fill that niche. He is proudly a partisan conservative, as demonstrated in every excerpt from this book, but is also famously pragmatic -- he actually implemented the welfare reform proposed in this book by working with Pres. Clinton. And he accomplished a Republican takeover of the House by proposing a conservative platform, the Contract With America -- and then implemented its promises (they only promised to INTRODUCE legislation; not to actually PASS it).
The only other candidate who could fill that double-niche is Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina. Sen. DeMint spent most of 2010 campaigning for Tea Party Senate candidates (and DeMint has a book too, Saving Freedom). That makes for some powerful allies, and DeMint can point to his election and re-election to the Senate as evidence of pragmatism. But Gingrich is much better-known nationally than DeMint, so it should be an interesting primary.
On Gingrich's consistency of political views: Newt has been criticized often for compromising on core issues, and for changing his views with the political winds. This book addresses that criticism in several contexts, for example by quoting how Gingrich's college lectures match the Contract with America. Newt is safe from this attack, if one looks at the record. He is safe from attack on grounds of over-ideological-purity because he admits in this book to smoking marijuana (p. 19) and to marital infidelity (p. 94). Since he still adheres to the tenets of the Contract With America 15 years later, consistency now seems obvious. Hence Newt is a strong candidate for the double-niche position.
We have added Newt Gingrich to our early Presidential 2012 VoteMatch quiz, where you answer 20 questions and get matched issue-by-issue with the major candidates. All of the candidates for the Republican nomination discussed above are also included in the VoteMatch quiz.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, Massscorecard.org, Nov. 2010
| Massscorecard.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Newt Gingrich: Most Americans are pro-choice and anti-abortion.
Budget & Economy|
Newt Gingrich: Achieve balanced budget by 2002.
Newt Gingrich: 1968: Led college protest over suppressing racy newspaper.
Newt Gingrich: America is multi-ethnic but not multi-cultural.
Newt Gingrich: Affirmative action OK individually, but not by group.
Newt Gingrich: Half-sister, a lesbian lobbyist: "Newt promotes tolerance".
Newt Gingrich: Bureaucracy & litigation are enemies of entrepreneurship.
Newt Gingrich: Convert decommissioned military bases into prisons.
Newt Gingrich: Admitted to smoking marijuana, coming of age in 1960s.
Newt Gingrich: Voucherize inner-city programs from schools to groceries.
Newt Gingrich: 1984: All-night Congressional vigil on school prayer vote.
Newt Gingrich: Voluntary school prayer creates bond between you and Creator.
Newt Gingrich: 1963 Supreme Court school prayer ban was just wrong.
Newt Gingrich: Early 1980s: co-sponsored Endangered Species Act.
Families & Children|
Newt Gingrich: Marriage penalty costs low-income couples $4,600 per year.
Newt Gingrich: 1979: his marriage collapsed because "all humans sin".
Dick Gephardt: Co-established bipartisan task force on the family.
Newt Gingrich: Co-established bipartisan task force on the family.
Newt Gingrich: American Exceptionalism: uniquely far-reaching individualism.
Newt Gingrich: Mutual trade: neither free trade nor protectionism.
Newt Gingrich: Wrote "Contract with America" as conservative platform.
Hillary Clinton: GOP overwhelmed by her health reform knowledge.
Newt Gingrich: Too much reform puts 1/7 of US economy at risk.
Newt Gingrich: Wishes he volunteered for Vietnam; exempt due to young kids.
Newt Gingrich: Co-founded Military Reform Caucus as "cheap hawk solution".
Newt Gingrich: Women not suitable for combat due to infections.
George Bush Sr.: 1989: Vetoed letting Tiananmen students overstay visas.
Newt Gingrich: Irish and Chinese immigrants overcame bigotry; so can blacks.
Newt Gingrich: 1989: Let Tiananmen students overstay visas.
Principles & Values|
Ben Nighthorse Campbell: Converted from Democrat to GOP in tide of 1994.
Daniel Coats: Founding member of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Dick Cheney: Senior member of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Duncan Hunter: Founding member of Conservative Opportunity Society.
George Bush Sr.: OpEd: Governed with views of Congressional Democrats first.
Jimmy Carter: New South: led party away from race-based conservatism.
Joe Linus Barton: Founding member of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Judd Gregg: Founding member of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Nathan Deal: Converted from Democrat to GOP in tide of 1994.
Newt Gingrich: Search for progress in successful lessons of the past.
Newt Gingrich: 1972: State chair for CREEP, committee to re-elect Nixon.
Newt Gingrich: Parents married only a few months; named after stepfather.
Newt Gingrich: 1960: first political activism: student volunteer for Nixon.
Newt Gingrich: Dated his geometry teacher in high-school; married her later.
Newt Gingrich: Authored Conservative Opportunity Society manifesto.
Newt Gingrich: Cooperate on Contract, but no compromise.
Newt Gingrich: Many newspaper editorial boards contain socialists.
Newt Gingrich: Four House Ethics complaints against "Newt Inc." GOPAC.
Richard Nixon: Inspired formation of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Richard Shelby: Converted from Democrat to GOP in tide of 1994.
Robert Reich: Post-college, proudly called himself a democratic socialist.
Robert Walker: Founding member of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Rush Limbaugh: 1994 Freshman GOP called themselves "The Ditto-Head Caucus".
Trent Lott: Godfather of Conservative Opportunity Society.
Newt Gingrich: If you're afraid or broke or uneducated, you're not free.
George Bush Sr.: "Read My Lips" did not promise to cut taxes.
Carol Moseley-Braun: Let Chicago Tribune defer $30M taxes for minority sale.
Newt Gingrich: Tax credit for inner-city computers: "Let them eat laptops".
Newt Gingrich: Co-founded Congressional Space Caucus.
Newt Gingrich: Television is the wasteland of cynicism.
Newt Gingrich: Televise Congress: "C-Span is more real than being there".
Newt Gingrich: Abolish tax deferral for media sales to minorities.
Welfare & Poverty|
Newt Gingrich: Welfare state has distorted beyond its original intent.
Newt Gingrich: Error at core of welfare state is its dehumanization.
Newt Gingrich: Welfare vouchers allow choice & reduce bureaucracy.
Newt Gingrich: Food stamps crowd out space shuttles.
Newt Gingrich: Replace welfare state with opportunity society.
The above quotations are from Newt! Leader of the Second American Revolution, by Dick Williams.