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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Newt Gingrich: The GOP traitor who made Donald Trump possible

Everything Gingrich touched was soiled by his corruption and toxic nature. He was, and remains, a cancer that is eating away at what is left of the Republican Party.
Newt Gingrich: A treasonous, corrupt, adulterous politician who started the destruction of the Republican party.

For the past several years, I have written that the destruction of the Republican party did not begin with Donald Trump or even Sarah Palin. They were opportunists who took advantage to the deterioration of the party as a valid tool of politics that began with the rise of a corrupt Congressman from Georgia.

My concerns are now validated by Dana Mibank of The Washington Post:

On Sept. 27, 1994, more than 300 Republican members of Congress and congressional candidates gathered where the insurrectionists would one day mount the scaffolding. On that sunny morning, they assembled for a nonviolent transfer of power. Bob Michel, the unfailingly genial leader of the House Republican minority for the previous 14 years, had ushered Ronald Reagan’s agenda through the House. But he was being forced into retirement by a rising bomb thrower who threatened to oust Michel as GOP leader if he didn’t quit. “My friends,” a wistful Michel told the gathering, “I’ll not be able to be with you when you enter that promised land of having that long-sought-after majority.”

Newt Gingrich had almost nothing in common with the man he shoved aside. Michel was a portrait of civility and decency, a World War II combat veteran who knew that his political opponents were not his enemies and that politics was the art of compromise. Gingrich, by contrast, rose to prominence by forcing the resignation of a Democratic speaker of the House on what began as mostly false allegations, by smearing another Democratic speaker with personal innuendo, and by routinely thwarting Michel’s attempts to negotiate with Democrats. Gingrich had avoided service in Vietnam and regarded Democrats as the enemy, impugning their patriotism and otherwise savaging them nightly on the House floor for the benefit of C-SPAN viewers.

“Newt! Newt! Newt! Newt!” the candidates and lawmakers chanted. A pudgy 51-year-old with a helmet of gray hair approached the lectern. “The fact is that America is in trouble,” Gingrich declared. “It is impossible to maintain American civilization with 12-year-olds having babies, 15-year-olds killing each other, 17-year-olds dying of AIDS and 18-year-olds getting diplomas they can’t even read.” The pejoratives piled up in Gingrich’s shouted, finger-wagging harangue: “Collapsing … Failed so totally … Worried about their jobs … Worried about their safety … Trust broke down … Out of touch … Wasteful … Dumb … Ineffective … Out of balance … Malaise … Drug dealers … Pimps … Prostitution … Crime … Barbarism … Devastation … Human tragedy … Chaos and poverty.” “Recognize that if America fails, our children will live on a dark and bloody planet,” Gingrich told them.

Somewhere in this catalogue of catastrophe, Gingrich signed the Contract With America, a 10-point agenda proposing a balanced-budget amendment, congressional term limits and other reforms. “We have become in danger of losing our own civilization,” Gingrich warned.

Americans had seldom heard a politician talk this way, and certainly not a speaker of the House. But that’s what Gingrich became after the GOP’s landslide victory in the 1994 election. The Contract With America made little headway — only three minor provisions (paperwork reduction!) became law — but the rise of Gingrich and his shock troops set the nation on a course toward the ruinous politics of today.

The Washington Post

As soon as he became Speaker, Ginrcih immediately scrapped any and all talk of term limits.

“We have the power,” he bragged. “What idiot thinks we will give it up?”

Certainly not the idiots who have worked to help put the corrupt, hypocritical despot in power. Gingrich dumped one wife while she was in the hospital with cancer, another one so he could marry the committee staffer he was banging while standing on the floor of the House of Representatlives to decry then-President Bill Clinton for letting a White House intern nosh on his Johnson in the Oval Office.

As a political operative and Congressional staff member during Gingrich’s rise to power, I would often turn away in disgust whenever I had to deal with a putrid man I openly considered a “soulless son-of-a-bitch.” I was assigned to aid his GOPAC to draw support for the GOP political convention that nominated Bob Dole in a losing attempt to beat Clinton. What I saw there made me decide to leave political work and return to journalism.

His pathetic events to run for President fell flat. So did is Speakership when he had to resign in disgrace for violating the House Ethics rules and because his affair with now current wife Calista Gingrich became public.

Gingrich, of course, became a close ally of Trump. Even worse, we talked his fellow corrupt sedition ist into appointing his adulterous wife ambassador to the Vatican.

Milbank notes, correctly, that their brand of toxic politics of Gingrich was just the tip of putrid acts of Republicans. He further notes:

Consider just a few of the milestones along this path of destruction — all of which, we can now see, made Trump possible, if not inevitable:

Long before Trump promulgated more than 30,000 falsehoods during his presidency, including disinformation about the covid-19 pandemic that contributed to countless deaths:

  • House Republicans encouraged the conspiracy theory that Vincent Foster, a lawyer in the Clinton White House, had been murdered — possibly, in the belief’s craziest formulation, by Hillary Clinton. After four separate, independent investigations concluded it was suicide, Gingrich said, “I just don’t accept it,” and one of his committee chairmen, Dan Burton, shot a melon in his backyard to reenact the “murder.”
  • The George W. Bush administration, to make the case for war, distorted the available intelligence to suggest that Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, that it was on the cusp of obtaining nuclear weapons and that U.S. troops would be “greeted as liberators.” When a former diplomat publicly disputed Bush’s false claims, aides retaliated by disclosing the identity of his wife, a CIA operative.
  • Sarah Palin, the party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2008, falsely proclaimed in 2009 the existence of “death panels” in Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers lined up to make the false claim a centerpiece of their attempt to defeat Obamacare. About a third of Americans came to believe the falsehood.

Long before Trump spoke of immigrants as rapists and murderers coming from “shithole countries” and told Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to other countries:

  • Patrick J. Buchanan, who ran insurgent bids for the GOP presidential nomination in 1992 and 1996, offered generous words for Hitler, lamented the treatment of “European-Americans” and “non-Jewish whites,” warned of a migrant “invasion,” and ran on a promise to “put America first.”
  • Conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh aired the song “Barack the Magic Negro,” Fox News’s Glenn Beck claimed President Obama had a “deep-seated hatred for White people,” and tea party activists had chanted the n-word at Black members of Congress outside the Capitol.
  • Fox News in 2011 served as the forum for Trump and others to perpetrate the “birther” libel asserting that Obama, the first Black president, was not American-born. Palin told Obama to stop his “shuck and jive shtick.”
  • Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said in 2013 of the “dreamers” (those brought illegally to the United States as children): “For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

Long before Trump told the violent Proud Boys to “stand by” instead of condemning them:

  • Conservative radio host G. Gordon Liddy in 1994 told listeners that if federal agents try to disarm them, “go for a head shot” and “kill the sons of bitches.” Other hosts, and GOP members of Congress, warned of federal agents in “black helicopters” planning “a paramilitary style attack against Americans” and the need for an “armed revolution” to resist a “New World Order,” and Gingrich and other Republicans spoke supportively of antigovernment militias.
  • Thousands of tea party activists, on the eve of final passage of Obamacare in the House in 2010, got to within 50 feet of the Capitol. Democrats worried about violence, and police officers struggled to maintain security, but GOP lawmakers inflamed the crowd, waving signs and leading chants of “Kill the bill.”
  • Palin, urging supporters “don’t retreat, instead — RELOAD!,” in 2010 promoted a map of 20 Democratic-held congressional districts in target crosshairs. A GOP Senate nominee spoke of using “Second Amendment remedies.” Threats and vandalism against Democratic lawmakers spread, and, in 2011, Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), one of those listed in Palin’s map, was shot in the head by a gunman who killed six others. (There was no evidence connecting Palin’s map to the shooting, but the violent rhetoric continued afterward.)

Long before Trump discredited democratic institutions with his “big lie” about election fraud:

  • Republican operatives intimidated the Miami-Dade County Elections Department into stopping the recount of the 2000 election results. A partisan crowd flooded into the elections office, chanting “Stop the fraud!” “Stop the count!” and “Cheaters!” Democratic officials were kicked, pushed and punched.
  • John Ashcroft, who became attorney general after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Bush v. Gore handed the presidency to George W. Bush, falsely claimed in 2001 that dead people had voted and that “votes have been bought, voters intimidated and ballot boxes stuffed.”
  • House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in 2003, trying to create a “permanent majority,” forced through a Texas redistricting that shifted six House seats to Republicans — and when Democratic legislators left the state to block the scheme, DeLay attempted to use the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration to track them down.
  • The Supreme Court’s conservative majority stacked the deck for Republicans with its 2010 Citizens United decision, which made it possible for wealthy interests to flood elections with unlimited, unregulated “dark money,” and its 2013 gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which invited GOP-led states to restrict voting in ways that disproportionately affect voters of color. Republican senators cemented the high court’s reputation as an arm of the GOP when from 2016 into 2017 they blocked Obama for 11 months from filling the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death.

Long before the dysfunction of the Trump era:

  • Gingrich in 1995 announced that he forced a shutdown of the federal government in part because he was asked to exit Air Force One via the rear stairway after a trip to Israel with President Bill Clinton. Republicans debuted a new era of manufactured crises over debt-limit deadlines, and repeated government shutdowns, whenever Democrats held the White House.
  • The Republican National Committee drafted an “autopsy” in 2013 after Mitt Romney lost to Obama, calling for more outreach to Black, Hispanic, Asian and gay Americans. GOP lawmakers in the House swiftly abandoned the idea, killing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that had sailed through the Senate by a bipartisan 68-32.
  • House Speaker John A. Boehner announced his retirement in 2015, later saying he was disgusted with the growing “circle of crazy” inside his party. Republicans “couldn’t govern at all,” Boehner wrote. “Incrementalism? Compromise? That wasn’t their thing,” Boehner wrote of the insurgents. “A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. … They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.” Boehner concluded that he was “living in Crazytown. … Every second of every day since Barack Obama became president, I was fighting one bats–t idea after another.”
–The Washington Post

Our thanks to Milbank and others who are looking back at a quarter-century of blatant moves of the Republican Party to destroy America and the nation that democracy is supposed to protect.

I worked for that party for seven years and it is a black mark on my own personal history and an insult to the nation I had tried to serve over the other 67 years of my life.

Donald Trump is a traitor to America. So is Sarah Palen, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan and too many others who worked to destroy the democracy that defined our country.

They are the real terrorists who threaten our nation and the American way of life.


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