The former Speaker of the House of Representatives, apparently Mr. November in the GOP presidential sweepstakes, has been faulted for accepting about $1.6 million in consulting fees from the failed government-backed mortgage investor Freddie Mac. (1) But it is common for big time politicians to cash in on their savvy and connections after leaving public office, so that is not scandalous. (I would have taken the money myself, had it been offered, and I am pure as the driven snow.) Apparently, Newt has no problem with profligate spending by quasi-public entities such as Freddie Mac, as long as the money is spent on him.
As a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, he would be expected to guarantee his support for the 2012 GOP ticket. (2) But the statement quoted above goes way beyond that: he declared that every other Republican candidate (including those who have no chance of winning the nomination) is preferable to President Barack Obama, which implies that partisanship trumps all other considerations in evaluating candidates.
All the Republican candidates are for a smaller federal government and lower taxes. But aside from that Republican orthodoxy, some differ from each other as much as they differ from President Obama. For example, Jon Hunstman represented Obama’s China policies in Beijing with no problem for nearly three years, while Mitt Romney advocates punishing China for its predatory currency and trade practices. Since Gingrich considers both preferable to Obama, how to deal with China is no big deal to him.
Newt Gingrich considers himself a friend of Israel, and supported aid to Israel while in Congress, yet would rather have Rep. Ron Paul in charge of US Middle East policy than Barack Obama. Obama has been justly criticized for his opposition to Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, but the President has supported over $3 billion in aid to the Jewish state every year of his presidency and gave Israel the $200 million “Iron Dome” missile defense system. In sharp contrast, Rep. Paul has consistently voted against all foreign aid (of which Israel is the largest recipient) and cast one of only 5 votes in the entire House of Representatives (3) against supporting Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Paul has long been rightly labeled one of the most anti-Israel members of the House, which Gingrich certainly knows, yet he would still prefer him over Obama! Apparently Gingrich’s love for Israel is overwhelmed by his love for the Republican Party.
Herman Cain’s 9% sales tax? No problem! Rick Perry’s desire to abolish the Department of Energy (which includes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the watchdog over possible radioactive contamination) plus other agencies to named later? No problem! Michelle Bachmann’s hope to eliminate all federal taxes, so the government would have to close down permanently (not just a few days)? No problem! They are all Republicans, so they would all be better than Obama!
Newt Gingrich has a checkered past, including two (out of three, so far) failed marriages, shutting down the US government in 1995, impeachment of President Clinton, a $300,000 fine for an ethics violation while Speaker and his resignation from Congress (4). He has wisely refrained from lambasting his fellow Republican presidential candidates, which will help him pick up the support of those who fall by the wayside. But if he is nominated, his obsessive partisanship and cantankerous personality will probably sink the GOP ticket.
Gerald S Glazer
(1) “Gingrich defends Freddie Mac pay” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 17, 2011, page 7A. “Freddie Mac” is a popular nickname for FHLMC, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, which was taken over by the US Government in 2008 to prevent collapse.
(2) After Eugene McCarthy refused to promise to support the 1968 Democratic presidential ticket, he never won another election.
(3)The others were Maxine Waters, Dennis Kucinich, Nick Rahall and our own Gwen Moore.
(4) Wikipedia biography.
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