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May 19, 2005 at 10:16:46 | Blog | Book Reviews | Archives: Opinion | Finance | Society | Letters | Humor

Is Newt Gingrich Too Smart to be President?

Alan Caruba / Anxiety Center -- Say what you will about the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, demonized by the Democrats when Clinton was in office, the man’s intellectual powers are impressive. It was, of course, Gingrich, along with former Rep. Dick Armey, who wrote the Contract with America that put the Republican Party in control of Congress in 1994.

The Contract, which virtually all of the then-GOP candidates signed, proposed some concrete solutions to problems. With Republicans in the majority, the welfare system was reformed, balanced budgets followed, and so did the first tax cuts in memory. There were rule changes in the way Congress conducted business. In sum, it was a dramatic response to the lethargy that characterized what forty years of Democrat control had produced.

Today, there is a major debate over the Democrat-inspired program, Social Security, with the realists telling us that this pay-as-you-go program will be bankrupt in the years ahead and calling for a revision that will allow workers to retain more of their own money for their retirement years. Gingrich says personal accounts will plow money back into the financial marketplace giving it a needed boost while insuring a higher retirement payoff.

In January, Gingrich’s new book, “Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract With America” ($27.95, Regnery) was published. It’s the kind of book that policy wonks and political junkies like to read. It’s also the kind of book that anyone entering the workplace, raising a family with kids in school, or concerned about the nation’s moral decline should read.

Indeed, just about anyone of any age would benefit because Gingrich has applied his knowledge of history (he is a historian) and the way the federal government functions to identify what he believes are the five greatest challenges this nation now faces. It is a supreme irony that the Republican Revolution of 1994 is now dead. However, we need to recall that Gingrich’s political compass failed him when he tried to deal with Bill Clinton and these days he’s even saying nice things about Hillary.

What is it about conservatives that actual political power seems to neuter them? Neither Bush41, nor Bush 43 seems to have absorbed anything other than the rhetoric of fiscal conservatism. If the Democrats can ever come up with something other than rejection and obstruction as a political platform, voters grown weary of flat economic growth might decide to give control of Congress back to them in 2006, just to insure a divided government again. We tend to forget just how narrow political victories have been in recent years.

In his book, Gingrich reminds us that this nation — that’s you and I — must commit to a long war in order to defeat the Islamic fundamentalists determined to drag the world back to the seventh century. This single conflict will determine what life in the 2lst century will be like. It is the first of the challenges Gingrich addresses and demonstrates his historic understanding of how fascism has always threatened liberty. “The greatest generation” defeated the Nazis and the Empire of Japan in the last century. The world must be led by the United States to defeat this new threat.

Gingrich identifies the need for Americans to defeat the secularism that acknowledges God as the source of all the rights we take for granted. One cannot read the Declaration of Independence without grasping the fact that the Founders believed that all men were created equal by virtue of “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

This does not mean requiring anyone to pray or attend a church, synagogue or mosque. It means that those who wish to call upon the power of the Creator can do so in a classroom or anywhere else we gather together to celebrate our heritage. Even the Supreme Court opens with an appeal to God to protect it. The President lays his hand on a Bible to take his oath of office. Yet, today, schools are banning the singing of Christmas Carols and a display of the Ten Commandments on public property is deemed improper. Little wonder the Democrats do not want to have a vote on judicial appointments that might permit these practices that have been part of our national life from its beginning. “When a handful of judges decide they can overrule the culture of 91% of America, how can the Court maintain its moral authority?” asks Gingrich. Good question.

Gingrich wants a renewal of “patriotic” education in the schools to replace the globalist indoctrination that has been taking place in our schools for forty years. Too many graduate — if they graduate at all — from our schools thinking the highest authority is the United Nations, not the Constitution. He wants this kind of instruction to be applied as well to immigrants to the United States, based on classic American history and values, so we don’t end up with a population that clings to the belief they are still citizens of some foreign nation, merely residing here.

“We must transform our domestic institutions in order to harness modern science and technology to create jobs, wealth, and lead the world economy into the 21st century,” says Gingrich and, of course, he’s right. And he calls for Social Security reform pointing out that “Social Security is the single largest federal program and bigger than the entire budget of most countries.”

Gingrich may have his eyes on the 2008 national election when the GOP will have to look to its ranks to find a new candidate for President. As I read his book, I could not help but wonder if he’s too smart to be elected by a generation of voters who have been consistently dumbed down in our schools? And would he have a Republican majority in Congress if he were elected?

These are not inconsequential questions, but the real issue with Gingrich for me is that intellectuals do not often make good political leaders. Winning the future, though, remains a very good idea.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center,

© Alan Caruba, May 2005

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