As I’ve been doing more and more lately, I was reading through the New York Times online the other day. On their site they have a link to their New York Times Magazine, which generally has much longer articles on specific topics. In the latest edition, they had an article that talked at great length about former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The article, written by Matt Bai, was excellent in describing Speaker Gingrich, his rise and fall in Washington, and his prospects for leading the Republican Party in the future.
I’ve spent some time on this blog reviewing Speaker Gingrich’s books and I think that his stance on many major political issues are in line with what the vast majority of the country wants (likely because he takes stances that 80% of Americans agree with as per his think tank research). Speaker Gingrich may not have the cleanest personal record, but he has an excellent mind for Washington politics. Here’s a line from the article regarding his simple, yet powerful new political stance:
His goal is to turn the Republicans into what he calls a “party of the American people” by linking disparate solutions whose only real relationship to one another is that they demonstrate, in surveys, what he calls “tripartisan” appeal — the broad support of Republicans, Democrats and independents. Gingrich told me he has identified about 100 ideas and positions that command anywhere from 62 percent to 93 percent support among such a cross-section of voters: giving out tax credits for installing alternative heating sources in your home (90 percent); awarding cash prizes to anyone who invents a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon (77 percent); keeping God in the Pledge of Allegiance (88 percent).
This strategy is brilliant, when you think about it. Take the concepts and ideas which form the base of “American Values” (and which most Americans agree with whole-heartedly) and use them as the base for a political platform. Seems like an easy way to victory, right?
Gingrich was fascinated and impressed by Obama’s [inaugural] address (“Those could have been our words,” he told the group), and he advised them to laminate it and keep it close by, so that they could hold the new president to his pragmatic rhetoric.
A few weeks after Speaker Gingrich made this suggestion, Republicans started carrying around laminated portions of President Barack Obama’s inaugural address. However, it is telling that Gingrich suggests that Obama’s words could have been Republican words. In many ways, I think he is correct since most inaugural addresses and State of the Union speeches are nothing more than rallying cries to core American values. Too many times the people on the far left and far right (and the political extremists) refuse to hear the simplicity of the words used during these addresses. Another piece of the article:
“He’s a total idea factory,” [Paul] Ryan said. “The man will have 10 ideas in an hour. Six of them will be brilliant, two of them are in the stratosphere and two of them I’ll just flat-out disagree with. And then you’ll get 10 more ideas in the next hour.”
This little bit refers to the fact that Speaker Gingrich is constantly putting new policy ideas out there to a select few in the Republican party. That’s what the party is missing right now – new ideas. If Gingrich can bring new ides to a stagnant, broken party, he might be able to rejuvenate the Republicans in time for the 2010 elections.
This article is a fascinating read for policy wonks and those who are highly interested in national politics. Bai does a commendable job telling Speaker Gingrich’s story and I highly recommend reading this article if you are so inclined and have the time to do so.