March 16, 2006


So You Say You Want a Deevolution?: With the GOP defaulting on his Contract with America, Newt Gingrich may be rallying the ultra-conservative troops for a charge at the White House gates. (Ezra Klein, 03.15.06, American Prospect)

In 1994, Newt Gingrich became that rarest of creatures: a successful revolutionary. That’s when his decades-long emasculation of the Democratic majority finally broke them -- as he always knew it would – and the Republicans, with Gingrich at their helm, retook the House for the first time in 40 years. Then, in 1998, he entered the next, and usually final, stage in the revolutionary’s lifecycle: the humiliating fall from grace. His brand of unalloyed conservatism and partisan overreaching repulsed the country, and voters responded with the worst electoral drubbing any opposition party had received since Johnson walloped Goldwater in 1964. Gingrich resigned a few days later. And that, we thought, was the end of his story -- just another political tragicomedy.

But the silver-haired revolutionary from Georgia has never been genteel enough to follow convention. So now, nearly four election cycles later, he’s angling for an incarnation rarely attained among his species: the triumphant comeback. And, thanks to the Republican Party’s drift into crony capitalism, big spending, and general incoherence, he just might get it. [...]

Ten years ago, when Newt and his coterie of red-faced radicals returned Republicans to power, they branded themselves deficit hawks, sworn foes of entitlement programs, devotees of limited government. They wanted to abolish the Department of Education, cut Medicare spending, and pass a constitutional amendment ensuring an eternity of balanced budgets. That the restored Republican majority instead fired Newt, elected Bush, passed a massive expansion of the Department of Education, added a new entitlement onto Medicare, and turned a large budget surplus into a gaping deficit is a fairly cruel irony, a political joke matched only by their brazen rejection of the ethics standards they rode in on.

In addition to being a small government manifesto, the Contract With America was a broadside against Congress’s culture of corruption. Before running down its 10 promised policies, it offered a list of eight reforms that Republicans promised would clean up Congress: independent auditors; term limits; less powerful committee chairs; anything that’d make the Democratic majority look like they’d been running a bureaucratized Enron.

Note that the Contract was the ten public policy items that polled around 75%, not the prefatory inside-the-Beltway stuff. Voters didn't care about the workings of the House then and they don't now. We all think the Congress is a bunch of crooks and then the much different guy who represents our own district.

And while Democrats would love to see the GOP run on doing away with Medicare and the federal role in education, the reality is that Newt would run on expanding vouchers and HSAs, which W already passed, and bringing the same type reforms to Social Security, which Democrats happen to have enough votes to block in the Senate for now. He wouldn't run on ideas that are at 20% in the polls.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 16, 2006 12:00 AM

The excerpt is incoherent. '98 may have been "the worst electoral drubbing since Goldwater" but they stayed in power, didn't they? If there was any "decades long emasculation", it was the GOP during the Michael years. "That the restored Republican majority instead fired Newt, elected Bush, passed a massive expansion of the Department of Education, added a new entitlement onto Medicare,..." leave out the fact that all those things happened in different years ranging from '98 to '02.

And I don't get the tone. Does he want Gingrich back because he likes those policies he espouses, or because he wants an opponent the Dems have beat already, and the only one they can beat now?

Is that what it's come down to for the Dem/Left, to hope for the resurrection of Gingrich so they can save the country from him again? Pathetic.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 16, 2006 2:05 AM

It does seem that the author wants Gingrich back because he figures it will disrupt the GOP party even further.

Question - are there any 75% questions anymore? Everything seems to be 50-50 or at best 60-40 which enables the Dems to block things in Congress.

Posted by: AWW at March 16, 2006 8:13 AM

The Contract with America, so closely tied to Gingrich, was discredited when he lied about and tried to cover up an office affair, not because of its ideas. Then when the next two nominees to replace him as minority leader were exposed as having their own affairs, Republicans were rightly called hypocrites by the media for criticizing Clinton's morals when their own morals didn't bear public scrutiny. Ad hominem attacks, long the left's M.O. were employed to demonize conservatives in general and Gingrich in particular and it worked like a charm.

It's really tiresome that the big lie, repeated endlessly in the media, becomes the gospel truth in the matter of one short decade.

Posted by: erp at March 16, 2006 8:18 AM


The Democrats wisely hope for the NRO types to get a nominee of their own.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 8:18 AM

It wasn't ever discredited--it mostly passed.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 8:25 AM

oj. The individual provisions in the contract may have been passed, but the concept of a Contract with America devised by Gingrich has been discredited in public opinion. That's what counts not the reality of the thing.

Posted by: erp at March 16, 2006 9:06 AM


No it hasn't. Gincrich was discredited, not the Contract.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 9:11 AM

oj. Not by you and possibly the people who read this blog, but among the general public, it's a topic of derision as is Gingrich. Try to find a positive mention anywhere in the msm.

Posted by: erp at March 16, 2006 9:41 AM


Here are 10,000

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 9:51 AM


Posted by: erp at March 16, 2006 10:43 AM

The problem with the Contract was that it tried to draw a distinction between allowing an up or down vote, which is what the Contract promised, and passing the proposed laws, which is what the people heard. So when it came to talking points, the Reps got no credit for passing most of the contract, because that's only doing what they "promised." They did get blame for not passing the whole thing, because that was "lying."

Posted by: David Cohen at March 16, 2006 10:53 AM

Didn't help that the line-item veto is unconstitutional.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2006 10:58 AM

The Republicans never get enough credit for trying to give Clinton the line item veto.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 16, 2006 11:13 AM

The Dems want Gingrich back because he's willing to let the media push him around and goad him (Gingrich) into saying/doing something stupid. And the media conservatives (NRO, I'm talking to you!) love it too, because it gives them an out every time.

Dubya, for any and all his communication "faults," can never be said to let the media coverage determine his word or action choices.

Posted by: Brad S at March 16, 2006 11:31 AM

gingrich is a non-entity, a first rate analyst on fox but dead as ted so far as elective office goes. disgusting individual on a personal level. his best bet is to go over to the dems and try for jeffords seat or sor something like that. or die. either are fine with me.

Posted by: toe at March 16, 2006 1:37 PM

Gun rights people got what we wanted from the Contract with America: AWB repeal and tort reform. Guns are the third rail for the other side now, something they are afraid to touch. Hail victory.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 16, 2006 2:35 PM

I'm totally out of step here, but I like Newt, the contract WA and was impressed by the extent to which it was achieved. He may not be the cleanest cut of those serving us in Congress, but he does fit right in. I learned a long time ago not to throw stones.

Posted by: Genecis at March 16, 2006 5:15 PM