Newt Gingrich speaks to the Goldwater Institute: Time for fundamental change

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Newt Gingrich spoke to the Goldwater Institute at a luncheon today as part of the Jordan Rose speaker series. Unlike some speakers, Gingrich is dynamic and entertaining, the type of speaker you don’t doze off to. Jordan Rose, an attorney in town, gave the opening speech. She appropriately quoted William F. Buckley, “Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive.”

Barry Goldwater, Jr. spoke next, remarking that “Politicians are the only people who create problems, then campaign against them.”

There was a wonderful slide show of what the Goldwater Institute has done over the last few years, from TV appearances by President Darcy Olsen and staff to lectures by prominent guests, including many on the left like Todd Lang, the Director of AZ Clean Elections, which the Goldwater Institute would prefer to abolish.

Gingrich’s speech focused on why the GOP is doing so poorly. He looked back on the Contract with America, which he spearheaded in 1994. The GOP took over Congress in 1994, for the first time in 50 years, and did well keeping the majority until they turned into everything they had run against.

Gingrich laid out conservatism’s rise and fall in the late 20th century. Its ascendancy began with a small book from Barry Goldwater, The Conscience of a Conservative. Goldwater went around the country giving speeches as a Senator, attracting a niche of hardworking Americans to the Republican Party who were concerned about taxes and basic issues. He used them to build up the popularity of the party. Then came Reagan, the second great wave of conservative thought. During the 1970’s, former liberals like Bill Bennett and Jeanne Kirkpatrick came over to the right (who we now refer to as the “neocons”). The third wave of conservative ascendancy was the Contract of America, which could be considered the last phase of Reaganism.

Gingrich then discussed how conservatism failed after that. It began with Hurricane Katrina; an abysmal failure of the federal government to provide levies that worked.

Part of the problem is a lot of the things government does is dumb, but it’s not called out on it. Gingrich said time and time again when he’s asked about certain issues, his response is that what the government is doing is plain stupid.

Gingrich next discussed John McCain. He defended McCain’s temper: McCain’s temper is understandable considering the torture he underwent as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Although Gingrich did not say he was endorsing McCain, he told the audience to consider how much worse the other two Democrat candidates are. Most compelling, he said that if McCain doesn’t carry the presidency, we’re not going to carry Congress either (well, I don’t think we’re going to retake Congress regardless of how well McCain does).

Gingrich mentioned his new bipartisan organization, American Solutions for the Future. His website is newt.org, where visitors can sign up for a free weekly newsletter.
Gingrich went back to the topic of why Republicans lost power. He said after President Reagan left office in 1988, George H.W. Bush fired all of Reagan’s staff. Reagan had neglected to ensure that his legacy would continue after he left. Similarly, when Newt left Congress, the GOP reverted back to the failed ways of its past – the ways that had kept it out of power as the minority party for most of the 20th century.

Newt said it is time for fundamental change. Do we want a smart or a dumb future?

When a politician says they’re being “practical,” in realspeak that means they’re selling out.

Gingrich moved on to some of his brilliant ideas that he is so well-known for. UPS tracks 23 million packages a day. You can log on to their website and see where a particular package is. Contrast this with the Department of Homeland Security, which can’t find 10-20 million people here illegally – even if they’re standing still. The solution according to Newt is to mail a package to everyone here illegally. Ok he was just kidding but it was a great way to put the problem into perspective.

Another egregious example of government incompetence under Bush that Gingrich relayed is the census. The government spent an exorbitant amount of money on an expensive computer to tabulate the census, which promptly failed. To rectify the situation, the government decided to spend $15 billion on a paper and pencil method instead! Not only is this going backwards, but it’s more costly. The last census only cost $6.6 billion.

Gingrich lamented the lack of progress technologically by the government. If he was in charge, he’d bring in ebay, google, myspace, etc. and have private companies handle the census online. For those people who don’t have internet access, they could fill out the census at Wal-Mart and other stores, where they’d be paid $5 each. An ironic part of his plan would be bringing in UPS, Federal Express, and USPS to find everyone else! He estimates the cost would be more like $2 billion.

He suggested another solution, his “wilder idea,” which would be to have a lottery in order to induce people to take the census, and they could receive more lottery tickets for each extra person they recruit to take the census.

Gingrich said we are in the third wave of conservatism now. It encompasses science and technology among other things. And we need long term fundamental improvements over quick fixes.

He berated the so-called energy crisis, saying that it’s entirely a politicians’ crisis. Their public policy has blocked us from seeking new energy sources and has made us dependent upon foreign oil. Americans are currently prohibited by law from looking for oil in the ocean, which is ridiculous. Brazil recently found two oil fields in the Atlantic, and is soon going to be profiting highly from them and exporting the oil.

Half the price of gas you’re paying right now is the fault of politicians. Our motto should be, “Drill here, drill now, pay less.”

Another politician-caused problem is air travel. The entrenched political machine refuses to modernize our air traffic control because they’re afraid of offending the 14,000 union members in that industry.

Next Gingrich discussed yesterday’s California Supreme Court decision which overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage. Even though 61-38% of California voters voted for the ban, 4 lawyers get to ignore their will. The people of California should recall them. In America, people are sovereign. Jefferson abolished 18 of 35 judges when he was President. It’s not unrealistic.

Regarding Obama, Gingrich had this to say: “I don’t think we have a clue what he stands for. A person who could sit through 20 years of sermons and not hear a word?” Obama has very far left views, the only way he can win the general election is if he can continue hiding his views until then.

Gingrich repeated a comment someone said to him at a talk, “I don’t see how Hillary can be for affirmative action all these years and now oppose Obama.”

After concluding his speech, Gingrich took questions from the audience. Asked about Iraq, Gingrich replied that going into Iraq was the right decision at the time given the information we had. Every major intelligence program in the world had serious concerns about Saddam Hussein. The sanctions program was falling apart. The mission to Niger indicated Saddam was trying to obtain weapons. Gingrich then diverted off into a discussion indirectly critical of the State Department (which has a reputation for being soft on terrorism, and critical of the Bush administration’s conclusion that Saddam was seeking biological weapons in Niger, as played out in the Valerie Plame accusations). Gingrich said that the State Department hides information, and won’t even admit it when it becomes fact. For example, the Israelis recently bombed a Syrian nuclear facility. Our State Department had ignored this facility, claimed that they didn’t know it was a nuclear facility, because they didn’t want to “offend” North Korea which had been lying to us about it for five years.

As for Iraq, the original plan had been very simple: remove Saddam, then leave shortly afterwards. Tommy Franks’ plan was to reduce troop levels to only 30,000 by the end of the summer after the invasion. Unfortunately, Bremer took over as “administrator” which resulted in drawing out our presence. Bremer even went on Iraqi TV speaking English – not exactly something the newly freed Iraqis wanted to see – Americans speaking in their own language on their TV. At that time, Gingrich spoke out and questioned this, said we were going over a cliff. General Casey replaced Bremer, followed by General Petraeus. Fortunately, Petraeus has handled the situation correctly and we are seeing progress.

However, our job has been made much more difficult by Iran. Half the casualties are caused by Iran. We need to stand up to Iran, and tell them there will be consequences.

Gingrich concluded by answering a question about whether it’s good idea to have many different conservative organizations. He responded that it is, and said that we need to focus on criticizing the things the left does that are not supported by a majority of the population. Most Americans agree with conservative principles. So we need to start making things that the left does an issue. For example, the Democrats recently voted to make union voting not secret. 90% of Americans disagree with this. But no one blasted them for it. Most of their constituents have no idea. We need to start calling them on these things.


Comments

  1. It was a great lunch, giant crowd, and lots of love for Newt. Just like the good old days!

  2. Live Free or Die says

    I find it interesting Newt continues to paint himself as a conservative. I realize that he engineered the 94′ Republican revolution but, I also remember him being rolled as speaker by folks like Matt Salmon and Now US Senator Tom Colburn. In Colburn’s book he states that Newt was rolled because he wanted to continue spending like a liberal.

  3. I know Newt wants to be President. He has good ideas. I remember him wanting to be liked by Bill Clinton and complaining that he did not get to ride on Air Force One and the lovefest he had instead of confronting the imp. Newt needs executive experience especially in light of the fact he got the axe in 98.

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