Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Dec/08

6

Back to the future for Newt?

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Here’s a quick piece in TNR which reports that Newt Gingrich is going into culture-war mode. Michelle Goldberg obviously has a perspective which is at odds with Newt’s rhetoric, but didn’t he make a name for himself in the 1990s for his techno-libertarian optimism?  Additionally, I recall that Gingrich called for toleration of gays (PDF) in the Republican party in 1994.  If he’s laying the groundwork for a 2012 run perhaps he’s calculating how he needs to position himself for the primaries.

6 comments

  • Author comment by Walter Olson · December 6, 2008 at 4:51 am

    Good article, though not surprising to those who’ve watched Gingrich’s trajectory over the years. I’m afraid similar tales could be told of many another conservative political figure who seemed promising fifteen or twenty years ago. It’s something they seem to pick up by osmosis nowadays in D.C. conservative circles — their staffers start booking them on the usual talk shows and sticking the usual red-meat passages into their speeches, and pretty soon they’re Culture Warriors in good standing indistinguishable from all the rest.

  • Derek Scruggs · December 6, 2008 at 7:35 am

    My recollection of 1994 is quite different. Among other things, he called for a Constitutional amendment mandating prayer in schools, the vote for which would be held on July 4. (In fact, I think he said that on election night.) He also said homosexuality is a predisposition in the same way alcoholism is. Perhaps that’s why his (lesbian) half-sister Candace doesn’t seem to like him very much.

  • Bernie · December 6, 2008 at 8:05 am

    In January 1995, I was a young stripling conservative just starting grad school in DC. One Saturday, I journeyed down to the CPAC conference where Newt Gingrich was a featured speaker. The mood was positive as the GOP had just taken over Congress and was sure to rout the liberals and put things to right.

    Newt spoke and was constantly stopped by standing ovations. His biggest applause line by far was this one on ending affirmative action: “In fact, I don’t call it affirmative action. I call it what it is — affirmative racism.”

    But only a year later Newt stopped an attempt to end affirmative action in governemnt contracting. They had the votes but J.C. Watts convinced Gingrich that ending affirmative action would hurt the GOP with black voters (who never vote Republican anyway).

    In other words, do not trust Newt Gingrich or listen to a word he says.

  • Polichinello · December 6, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Newt’s such a slimy, self-serving individual, I’m still mystified that anyone can take him seriously. Truly, there is one born every minute.

  • Author comment by David Hume · December 6, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Among other things, he called for a Constitutional amendment mandating prayer in schools, the vote for which would be held on July 4.

    Fair enough, but by the numbers this is a mainstream view. It’s only the American elite which is averse to this (I oppose prayer in schools, my assertion of fact does not reflect my personal views).

    He also said homosexuality is a predisposition in the same way alcoholism is.

    This is still different from believing homosexuality has no biological grounding.

  • Derek Scruggs · December 6, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    My point was that there’s plenty of evidence he’s played to the culture warriors in the past. The prayer in school thing came up unsolicited on election night even though it wasn’t mentioned in the Contract with America.

    Re: biological basis for homosexuality – his comments are a dog whistle. Plenty of evangelicals think homosexuality is a disease. And he of course never said he thought it was biological. In this worldview, an abused child may also be predisposed to alcoholism. This is consistent with the common evangelical idea that male homosexuality arises from excessive identification with the mother figure.

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