January 27, 2012
By Kevin Powell
America is in trouble if any of the Republican candidates for president actually defeat Barack Obama in November. Say what you will about Obama, as there is plenty to criticize.
We do need a major employment bill to put more people to work. We do need to deal with the hardcore woes of America’s middle class and poor. We do need an end to politicians’ cozy relationship with corporations and banks, a bond that has led to ruthless capitalism and senseless job elimination. We do need a tax system that no longer benefits the super-wealthy at the expense of the 99%. We do need to change how the Federal Reserve operates, so that it no longer gives big banks power over our government.
These are some of the core issues of this 2012 election. So, as I watched the Republican Florida debate last night, I could not help but wonder what has happened to the Republican party of Mitt Romney’s father, of Jacob Javits, of the Rockefellers.
Here we are, three decades after Ronald Reagan’s ascendancy, and there is still the racially-charged language of “the welfare queen”, except today it’s stated directly by Newt Gingrich that blacks want food stamps rather than a job. There is eternal talk of “taking back America”, but it is not obvious from what or from whom we are taking back America. Given the racial and class makeup of the men on stage last night, it’s a safe bet the America they envision, where illegal immigrants, as Mitt Romney declared, would engage in “self-deportation”, is a country that will perpetually be a society of haves and have-nots, of the blame game, rather than practical solutions to move America forward.
But that is not Newt Gingrich’s concern. The mere fact that he is a serious candidate is an embarrassment to Republicans. For here is a man who is a hypocrite, an influence-peddler, a racial mudslinger, hell-bent on being president of the United States.
As I listen to Gingrich, from one interview or campaign stop to the next, discuss family values, I note we have a sitting president who epitomizes a stable home life with his wife and two daughters, not a controversy in sight. But perhaps, former House speaker Gingrich meant what he said at the debate: “Be prepared to be controversial when necessary.”
The more controversy the better, it seems. Gingrich, steeped in arrogance, blasts the media and anyone who dares to ask him about his personal life. Do we really want a man in the White House who would cheat on his first wife, then divorce her while she is in treatment for cancer? Do we really want someone who would then divorce his second wife (and mistress during his first marriage), who helped build his political portfolio, because she refused to participate in the open relationship, according to her, he was seeking that would include wife No 2 and mistress No 2 (now wife No 3)? Do we really want this man who is not remotely apologetic about any of this, and has taken to dissing his second wife for speaking publicly?
Furthermore, do we really want a man in the White House who, along with his homeboy Tom Delay, was the key shaper of the current pay-to-play system in Congress, where seniority was thrown into the Potomac River and politicians who brought in the most cash got the plum committee assignments? No, we do not.
Nor do we want a man who, after leaving Congress in disgrace over ethics violations (with a $300,000 fine for his misdeeds), has gone on to make millions of dollars either as a “consultant” or “historian” to big oil, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (we know their role in the devastating home foreclosure crisis), healthcare companies … anyone with a checkbook. Gingrich is bashing Mitt Romney as a “vulture capitalist”, yet it is self-evident that Newt Gingrich, the de facto lobbyist, has been hustling American democracy and the American people for many years.
The sad irony is that Gingrich is so gifted an orator, has so skillfully mastered that conservative Republican tactic of buzzwords before substance, that there are Americans, poor and middle-class, white Americans mainly, in the South, in the Midwest, in other economically strapped regions, who will vote for him. They apparently do not realize they are essentially voting for one of the elite they distrust, and voting against their own financial interests.
What becomes of Newt Gingrich’s presidential candidacy is anyone’s guess. Win or lose, he’s a cancer in the American social fabric, a polarizing persona of what is wrong with our democratic system. He has a right to run – and we have the right to say, no, you are not good for our nation, or our world.
“Newt Gingrich – Can we really imagine him as president?”
January 27, 2012