1995 - The Year I Switched to the Dark Side
My vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 came at a time when I was growing tired of the Democratic party and its constant double-talk. (The irony is that I voted for the ultimate double-talker). Change, particularly political-change, is usually slow and gradual, as it was with me. I was already feeling like the Democrats stood for nothing in foreign affairs as they voted against Dessert Shield (I'm looking at you Joe Biden) and I was personally fearful of finding a job when I leaved business school as we were in a recession.
Along came Bill with his feminist, modern wife talking about job creators and changing the way the Democrats (not the country) needed to operate. As soon as he was elected, jobs took a back seat to Camelot II, Travelgate, Gays in the Military, etc. I felt like I was back at UCLA where I wanted my student counsel to get us more parking spots and not argue about the schools position on Apartheid.
Things got ugly real fast as we approached 1994. The Republicans, under Newt, came up with the Contract with America and, while today I cannot remember all the aspects of it, I do recall thinking each point was bold, specific and ideas I thought reasonable. I was thrilled to see them run on this platform and win! I wanted to join the fun. Heck, I agreed with most of what they were doing domestically and I disagreed with the Democrats general ignorance or attitudes of appeasement in the foreign arena.
The true test that I was becoming a Republican (or really a Libertarian) was that I didn't want to simply jump at the decision to switch parties simply because it "felt right." I wanted to give it some time, contemplate.
As Time Magazine discussed the ever-shrinking importance of the presidency and Bill Clinton looked defiantly at the cameras and argued (or begged?) that he was still relevant, Newt got things done. Conservative things. I officially became a Republican about a year later and have not looked back!
So, Newt is back. He was divisive in Congress. He led a "revolution" yet he apparently has questionable leadership skills. It can be argued that he made the Clinton Presidency successful (forcing him to the Right/Center, allowing the Dems to be triangulated, getting (Conservative) things done, AND doing some dumb things allowing Clinton to use against them...(Shutdown)). There is a lot of baggage. He is not the perfect candidate. I would throw the election to Obama today (may be not tomorrow) if I could guarantee seeing three debates between Newt and Obama. Wow!
If Newt keeps up the pressure, we'll be seeing a lot of articles like the one below by Joe Scarborough. My Democratic friends and family will be oozing venom in ways that would make you think they otherwise have Sarah Palin as an admired family member! Here's Scarborough's take:
The case for Newt
|I don’t know Newt Gingrich enough to hate him. The truth is the guy has been pretty damn good for my career. Add to that the fact we’ve never had a cross word in 15 years and it should become obvious to even the slowest Gingrich supporter that I have no axe to grind with my former speaker.|
But when the subject switches from Private Newt to Public Newt, Mr. Gingrich drives me crazy. My criticisms of Newt have been documented in books, newspaper columns and news transcripts. Like Sen. Tom Coburn, I find his leadership skills to be deplorable. But I find his ideological inconsistency to be even more troubling.
As George Will said in his most recent column, there is nothing conservative about Newt Gingrich.
Will believes Gingrich would make a “marvelous Marxist.” He’s a firm believer in dogmatic solutions to all that ails America and has mastered the dark art of dehumanizing political opponents.
Bland bureaucrats like Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are compared to Joseph Stalin by Newt while dorky accountants in the Congressional Budget Officeare painted as part of a socialistic scheme to bring down America.
Meanwhile “Newt the Pure” champions $7 trillion socialist schemes and Washington institutions like Freddie Mac. While being paid millions to push massive federal programs, Gingrich has also found the time to trash Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and his plan to rescue America from another generation of debt.
Beginning in 1993, Gingrich pushed for the type of individual mandate that the Supreme Court will hopefully find unconstitutional next year. He also took the time out of his busy schedule to sit on a couch with Nancy Pelosi in an effort to align himself with Al Gore’s global warming campaign.
Coburn wrote a book that detailed Newt’s affinity for kicking conservatives around for sport during his speakership. And in his last speech from the floor of Congress, Gingrich and liberal Democrats like David Obey joined forces to attack the same conservatives who helped elect him speaker.
To Newt, we conservatives were “extremists,” “cannibals,” and “jihadists” who were pushing too hard to cut the size and scope of the federal government. His angry tirade against our “perfectionist caucus” led a group of us to conclude that Gingrich had forgotten why we elected him speaker.
So, we fired him.
By this point in my column, you may be asking yourself what could be the case for a man who is an ideological train wreck and the worst manager this side of Barack Obama?
It’s simple, really.
When Gingrich was speaker of the House, he was responsible for kick-starting a movement that did three historic things:
(1) Balance the budget for the first time in a generation.
(2) Balance the budget four years in a row for the first time since the 1920s.
(3) Pass welfare reform.
Is there a Republican in the field who can top these achievements?
Does any other living Republican come close?
What’s it all mean for the Republican Party and America?
Who the hell knows.
A guest columnist for POLITICO, Joe Scarborough hosts “Morning Joe” on MSNBC and represented Florida’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Newt, The Dark Lord