June 20, 2007

Brave Old Newt World

Hatched by Dafydd

Newt Gingrich has started a new organization called American Solutions for Winning the Future. It has a website. It promises "transformational change and long-term solutions in Washington," for which new polls show "widespread support":

Through a series of workshops on 9/27 (and again 9/29), we will make these solutions available to activists, volunteers and every candidate from both parties in every elected office in the country. If you would like to help host a workshop in your neighborhood or simply attend, please Click Here.

Alas, they don't make them available today, 6/20, so it's a bit hard to judge; but in what I've seen, both at the site and in Gingrich's 21st Century Contract With America, Newt's "solutions" do not include anything about the seminal threat of our age, the war against global jihadism. In fact, his new contract barely even mentions defense at all, restricting itself to a mere platitude so bland and non-committal that anyone -- even Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%), Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) -- could enthusiastically applaud it:

Defend America and our allies from those who would destroy us. To achieve security, we will develop the intelligence, diplomatic, information, defense, and homeland security systems and resources for success.

There are many other platitude planks in the new contract; I define a platitude as a statement that sounds great, tells you nothing at all, and leaves you shaking your head and asking, "how?":

Math and science learning equal to any in the world and educating enough young Americans to both discover the science of the future and to compete successfully in national security and the economy with other well-educated societies....

Investing in the scientific revolutions that are going to transform our world—particularly in energy, space, and the environment.

Transforming health care into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System that improves our health while lowering costs dramatically. In the process, American health care will become our highest value export and foreign exchange earning sector....

Use the new technologies and new scientific knowledge to turn disabilities into capabilities and change government regulations and programs to help every American achieve the fullest possible ability to pursue happiness....

Change the mindset of big government in Washington by replacing bureaucratic public administration with Entrepreneurial Public Management so government can operate with the speed, effectiveness, and efficiency of the information age....

Ensure an election process that is honest, accountable, accurate, and free from the threat of illegal votes or subsequent litigation.

It appears that Newt Gingrich -- who I have always liked, and whose original Contract With America drew my enthusiastic cheerleading -- lives in a weird, pre-9/11 bubble, where our top national problems are the economy, health insurance, and reforming Social Security. While I agree with what few specific solutions he has discussed, I wonder...

  • Where he stands on the war (and its two main battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan);
  • How he thinks we can -- and whether he thinks we should -- raise up the Non-Integrating Gap discussed by Thomas P.M. Barnett's the Pentagon's New Map, which may be driving the surge of militant islamism sweeping the ummah, to the level of the Functioning Core;
  • Exactly what he means by "investing in... energy, space, and the environment." What energy investments, for example? Is he talking about modern Integral Fast or Pebble Bed Modular Technology nuclear plants? Hydrogen-powered cars? High-temperature ceramic engines? Broadcast power? Better battery technology?

    In space policy, does he support the manned Mars expedition, or any manned space exploration at all? Is he a fan of runway-to-orbit routine access to space for passengers and cargo? How about Shuttle II, orbital transfer vehicles (to transition from low to high earth orbit, for example), space-based weaponry, solar power satellites, SDI, permanent space colonies (or even O'Neill colonies)?

    And where does he stand on global warming, cooling, and staying-the-saming? What woudl he do, what would he block, and about what is he uncertain? (Considering that we're talking about Newt Gingrich, the answer to the last question is probably "nothing at all!")

Reading all this, I sincerely believe that Newt Gingrich has no plans to run for president anytime soon: If he were serious about running, he would be addressing real issues, not spouting meaningless truisms and tautologies that would draw the support of everybody from Alvin and Heidi Toffler and Ayn Rand to Hugo Chavez and Josef Stalin. Where is the specificity? Newt is not a Democrat, for heaven's sake!

I don't know whether this is just promotion for his new books, Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America and a Contract With the Earth. or just a bizarre exercise in egotism and narcissism. But whatever causes it, such maunderings diminsh the stature of a politician who, in the past, demonstrated both great flaws and gigantic achievements.

Either give it up, Newt -- or else actually apply the same level of mental energy and sideways thinking to your new contract that you poured into your old... especially to the question of how we are actually to get such programs enacted in today's Congress, which is the most urgent question of all; and without which, all the rest is mere dicta.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 20, 2007, at the time of 4:01 PM

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The following hissed in response by: lsusportsfan

I agree. I also think that Newt has very limited appeal. It seems like much of the buzz is all sort of with the Conservative powerbrokers and icons. I don't hear Newts name on everyones lips or for that matter many at all.

The above hissed in response by: lsusportsfan [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 20, 2007 4:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

It does sound like he has, by forming this organization,decided to take the role of "thought leader," which by eminent qualification he deserves, rather than the role of candidate, which he might struggle to master. Yet the lack of specificity in the proposal seems to indicate the latter, rather than the former. Candidates dislike specifics because every REAL solution is going to annoy somebody, so putting together a comprehensive set of solutions is going to annoy everybody. It's interesting that our system of "free market politics" seems to work AGAINST doing the "greatest good for the greatest number," as our free market economic system seems to do. One becomes so tired of drift in the face of looming disaster-- Social Security, tax reform, health care costs (due to government meddling) and, of course, the GWOT.

It would be interesting to compare Newt's list with Giuliani's 12 "promises."

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 20, 2007 9:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: SallyVee

With sadness and great disappointment, I must agree with every word about Newt here. He was the guy who first inspired me to care about politics at all. I moved to his district and worked my butt off for him over 4 years. I still have my Women For Newt gold pin which I also designed.

Well, it had to be said. By someone. And you've nailed Newt's wild flailings quite correctly I'm afraid: "...spouting meaningless truisms and tautologies that would draw the support of everybody from Alvin and Heidi Toffler and Ayn Rand to Hugo Chavez and Josef Stalin."

Did you see Newt's ad opposing the immigration bill? Here:

The above hissed in response by: SallyVee [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 20, 2007 9:49 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

I just checked the website, and it refers to a separate site for health care, which is VERY specific and quite sensible. I wonder if perhaps we are passing judgement based on the "goals statement," rather than the specific recommendations that will be developed on each issue, over time?

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 20, 2007 9:56 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I just checked the website, and it refers to a separate site for health care, which is VERY specific and quite sensible. I wonder if perhaps we are passing judgement based on the "goals statement," rather than the specific recommendations that will be developed on each issue, over time?

Yes, I know there's another site that has health-care stuff. But for the rest, how many years does it take to develop some solutions? Newt has been out of office for eight years (starting January 1999; he refused to take the seat to which he had been elected in 1998). Shouldn't he have some really cool ideas by now?

In terms of specificity, contrast the vagueness, superficiality, and refusal to take a stand on anything (trying to appeal to everyone) with the original Contract With America, which you can find here.


  1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
  2. THE TAKING BACK OUR STREETS ACT: An anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, "good faith" exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer's "crime" bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.
  3. THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: Discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility.

That is very, very detailed! That's what I'm used to from Newt, which is why this thing is such a disappointment... even if he plans to fill in the blanks later, he evidently doesn't even have the basic outlines yet.

So why is he talking about it? Just shut up and think, Newt.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 20, 2007 10:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Based on nothing but my own experience, I suspect that Newt is trying something new. Rather than simply throw out his own brilliant ideas, fully baked, and try to convince people of their brilliance, he's going through the "show" of getting people to "think up" these solutions with his "help." People like ideas they came up with themselves, even if somebody else told them the answer. Just guessing, but I can't believe Newt doesn't know these answers already-- it's not really rocket science. He's just trying to develop political momentum by practicing "participatory democracy."

As I've said before, it seems that our "free market politics" works to the exclusion of good ideas, while our free market economy rewards them. Our politics need to change. This approach may help.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2007 5:54 AM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I think that Newt should just go away. I really do and considering the fact that he did nothing about issues like immigration back when he was in a position to accomplish something....he does not need to be criticizing people now.

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 21, 2007 11:59 AM

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