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Newt in His Own Words: 33 Years of Bomb-Throwing (MoJo)

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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-11-11 12:11 PM
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Newt in His Own Words: 33 Years of Bomb-Throwing (MoJo)
Your guide to Gingrich's greatest rhetorical hits.

By Tim Murphy and David Corn

Thu Apr. 7, 2011 12:01 AM PDT

Editor's Note (5/10/11): Well, it kind of seems official. On Monday, a spokesman for Newt Gingrich announced that on Wednesday Gingrich would announce on Twitter and Facebook that he is running for president. (How suspenseful!) And in the days since commentators have been dissecting the former House speaker's past: his messy personal life (two divorces, three marriages), his erratic policy pronouncements, his combative politicking. But given that Gingrich has thirty-plus years of extreme conduct, many of his past excesses end up being truncated and compacted into characterizations. ("Known for his often controversial remarks...") The full Newt is often given short shrift. But a month ago, Tim Murphy and David Corn set out to chronicle Gingrich's 33 years of rhetorical extremism. They ended up with a long list. A very long list.

Newt Gingrich, a preseason 2012 Republican contender, likes to present himself as an ideas man. He is a former college professor and the architect of the ideology-driven 1994 Republican Revolution. But for all his references to Camus and Clausewitz, there's another side to the former House speakera verbal bomb-thrower who's never met a political crisis he couldn't analogize to the annexation of the Sudetenland.

Gingrich was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1978. He learned quickly that a back-bencher in the minority party could distinguish himself and gain attention in Washington by employing extreme rhetoric. Ever in attack-mode, Gingrich swiftly moved up the ranks within the House GOP caucus. Democrats accused him of practicing "skinhead politics," and a 1989 Washington Post profile declared him "notorious" and "defiant." But his political thuggery worked, and he led the GOPers in their historic retaking of the House and became speaker. He did not last long in the post. After a rocky stintmarked by a government shutdown, his party's sex-and-lies impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton, and several ethics controversies involving Gingrichthe GOP lost seats in the 1998 election, and Gingrich resigned as speaker and left the House. (During this time, he was having an extramarital affair with a congressional aide who would eventually become his third, and present, wife.)

In his post-House years, Gingrich, at times, toned down the rhetoric. He worked with Hillary Clinton on health care IT issues. He sat on a couch with Nancy Pelosi to highlight their joint support for climate change action. After the 2008 election, he called for policymaking that would unite Democrats, Republicans, and independents. He blasted a candidate for GOP chairman who circulated a parody song called "Barack the Magic Negro." Still, he wasn't able to escape the siren call of overheated oratory. He repeatedly bashed the "secular left" for attempting to destroy the country, and as he has moved closer to declaring a presidential bid, he increasingly has returned to the hooligan ways of his past.
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