Saturday, May 21, 2011


Coincidentally while I was penning my perspectives on how former Speaker Newt Gingrich had the experience to package a comprehensive GOP plan to restore America’s ideals the former Speaker was undermining his run at the republican presidential candidacy. This unfortunate turn of events happened on a Meet the Press interview with David Gregory on May 15, four days after announcing his candidacy for President.

During the course of the interview Gregory pitched Newt a question about House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “Path to Prosperity” budget plan, specifically the feature that provides medicare recipients with a premium voucher system to manage the spiraling costs of medicare. Gregory’s question was a deadfall directed to trap him at Ryan’s expense, but Newt had a golden opportunity to respond to Gregory by affirming Ryan’s proposal as a bold step in the right direction for preserving medicare.

But Newt the “free-wheeling theorist” responded instead of Newt the “conservative candidate” and he carelessly answered Gregory’s question by saying, “I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left- wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.”

Big, big mistake Newt! You know as well as anyone that Ryan’s plan takes medicare out of the hands of ObamaCare's 'blank check' plan and preserves it for future generations through a free market system of fairness and continuity. This is hardly radical and to characterize it as social engineering in the same context as the socialist, central planning ObamaCare program is both disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.

So what caused Newt’s meltdown? Well, as many would say, Newt was simply being Newt and that his response to Gregory was borne out of his penchant for prudent philosophical thought and his remarks were not intended as a bow shot against Ryan’s plan. However that may be true they alienated and infuriated his conservative base. Rep. Ryan’s response to Gingrich’s comment was "with allies like that, who needs the left?" Conservative authority Charles Krauthammer, who discounted Gingrich as a viable candidate from the outset, lowered Gingrich’s candidacy casket in the ground by saying “Newt is done”. Rush Limbaugh said to his national radio audience "I am not going to justify this. I am not going to explain it.” Sarah Palin rallied to Newt’s defense by asking the GOP collective to play nice in the sandbox and urged Gingrich, Ryan and the rest of the 2012 conservative contenders to tailor their campaigns to avoid the “lame-stream media.”

As reported by John Hayward in Human Events Newt subsequently went on a media damage control clarifying spree to diffuse his remarks by saying, “I have lavishly praised Ryan and consider his budget plan a brilliant idea.” He also said he would vote in favor of the plan if he were still in Congress, because “it moves the process forward.” Gingrich also called Rep. Ryan to apologize. But if the former Speaker has any chance of resuscitating his bid for the GOP nomination I suggest two strategic adjustments; (1) reiterate and reinforce his genuine support for Ryan’s medicare plan as a needed step in the right direction that is aligned around fiscal conservative policies and (2) manage his moments in interviews and debates by ensuring his well-intended idealism does not have unintended interpretations.

Newt Gingrich must also realize he is operating today in a political environment of technological immediacy--immediacy of information, interpretation and first impressions. He must adapt not only to the information technology impacts of his comments but also to the politics of destruction that comes with the territory of a presidential candidate.

But America needs a passionate President with bold ideas to reinstate America’s heritage of opportunity for all and from that standpoint Newt Gingrich and Paul Ryan have much in common, although this observation may seem blurry due to their recent dust up. These are two men who are cut from the same ilk of ideation. Gingrich’s “Contract with America” was a fresh approach to congressional reform and budgetary and welfare transformation that was implemented and proven successful. Rep. Paul Ryan’s ideas emanating from his “Roadmap for America’s Future” , the precursor to his “Path to Prosperity” budget plan, display novel and prudent proposals and if put into legislative action will cause needed positive outcomes for America’s future.

Given the opportunity as President and House Budget chairman a Gingrich/Ryan blending of brainstorming could be a dynamic duo for reengaging America’s engine for opportunity and success in the aftermath of the Obama era of distress. Perhaps these two titans of ideas will forge an alliance for America’s solutions and not allow the liberal media, nor the conservative knee-jerkers, to drive them towards a wedge of resentment.

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