Newt Gingrich, the man who changed Washington – for the worse

Altogether, now – how can you tell Newt Gingrich is lying?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The Gingrich campaign has now confirmed a longstanding business relationship that enabled his consulting group to receive between $1.6 and $1.8 million from mortgage giant Freddie Mac. But it wasn’t for “lobbying,” Newt Gingrich insists. It was for “strategic advice on a wide range of issues…”

“It reminds people,” Gingrich said, “that I know a great deal about Washington.” And as he continued, “If you want to change Washington, we just tried four [sic] years of amateur ignorance and it didn’t work very well, so having some-body who knows Washington might be a really good thing.”

Newt Gingrich is certainly right about that. There is no candidate for president who has had more experience in changing Washington than Gingrich. Indeed, there may be no American since James Madison who has had more of an effect in making the institution of Congress what it is today.

For as far too few remember, more than any other living American, it is Newt Gingrich who gave us the current version of our hopelessly dysfunctional Congress — an institution which, according to a New York Times/CBS poll, now has the confidence of 9% of the American people. That monster is his baby, and no one should deny him his parental bragging rights…

Why is this man laughing all the way to the bank?
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

The Framers of our Constitution meant Congress to be a great deliberative body. It has become an embarrassment. Congress doesn’t deliberate to resolve important national issues. Congress fundraises, and postures to fundraise, to support the next fight for control.

The transformation to this “Fundraising Congress” began in 1993. Newt Gingrich was its leader. After claiming Republican control of both houses of Congress in 1995 — for the first time in 40 years — Gingrich launched his new army of reformers on a project to secure permanent control of that institution, and of government.

Fundraising was the key to that strategy of control. The Republicans came to power raising a then unheard of amount of money: $618.42 million in the election cycle ending in 1994, compared to the Democrats’ $488.68 million…

Gingrich concentrated the “work” of Congress into a three-day “work” week. He sent his caucus home for the rest of the week, in part so that they had time necessary to launch cross-country fundraising missions…

Members of Congress now spend between 30%-70% of their time raising money to get re-elected to Congress or to get their party back into power. And not just the Republicans: The Democrats quickly followed the lessons of Professor Gingrich. And in the almost 20 years since he came to power, practically everything about that great institution has changed.

Gone is any semblance of deliberation, or the idea that there is a business of the nation to be done, as opposed to the business of the party in power. Instead, the institution that Gingrich inherited — the one in which Democrats worked with Republicans to pass the most important tax reform in modern history (Reagan’s), and in which Republicans led Democrats to break a filibuster in the Senate and pass the most important social legislation in a century (The Civil Rights Act of 1964) — was gone. What replaced it is the completely dysfunctional institution which practically no American has confidence in today…

This is the legacy of Speaker Gingrich. It has been followed by Republicans and Democrats alike. It is a legacy that has done the nation great harm.

Concurrently, changes in the leadership and function of the two parties – the two wings of the TweedleDeeDum political party – have followed in full accord.

Gerrymandering following census information is wholly calculated as much to keep incumbents in office as to steal a seat or two from your opposition. Ennui becomes as central as corruption.

The sole consideration of the gangsters in charge of each political party is how much money will be raised as a result of each executive order, each Congressional hearing, which department of government favors which segment of the Chamber of Commerce. Democrats pay lipservice to workingclass roots; but, not much more. When governors try to gut public employee’s unions the fightback comes from the grassroots, from the streets – not the Democratic National Committee. Republicans are even more crass – smirking at the obedient little tools of the Tea Party, bought and paid for by the likes of the Koch Brothers and Dick Armey. And the rank-and-file fall in line hoping against hope that someday they will get their own personal piece of the pie.

One thought on “Newt Gingrich, the man who changed Washington – for the worse

  1. moss says:

    Gingrich is probably the best illustration of how many Americans are dumb – not ignorant. He lies – then changes his lies – then changes them, again. And people don’t notice a thing. They just nod their heads and say “Yes sir, by golly, he’s got it right.”

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