Heading into the 1960 presidential election John F. Kennedy realized that he had to do something to get past the pretty-boy-born-on-3rd-base image that plagued his young life. So he wrote a book, had his father’s cronies buy thousands of copies to hand out for free and suddenly he had a New York Times best seller and automatic credibility with the press.
In modern politics you have to write a book to be taken seriously and to give the voters and the press a peek inside the inner workings of your political brain. In fact, Republicans love writing books about their candidates – the more the better. Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney? One book a piece.
33 books! Case closed! With Gingrich leading the GOP race and a whole grip of books to choose from I decided to spend a day in the mind of Newt by doing a marathon reading of on his book “Winning the Future.” And thus we begin Blogging While Newt, a 3-part series… or getting into his mind so you don’t have to.
10:00 a.m. Sunday
Now with 17 books to choose from you might wonder why I’m blogging “Winning the Future”. Well the easiest answer is Obama made me do it. I loathe his 2012 campaign slogan “Winning the Future:” it sounds cliché, and pandering. Not to mention the fact this is also the title of Gingrich’s book from 2005 “Winning the Future: A 21stCentury Contract with America.” Bet you Obama didn’t see that one coming when he picked his new slogan. Plus, in 2005, Bush was in office and Newt was testing the waters for a 2008 run it’s a much more reasonable sober peek into the man’s mind than any sort of post-Obama Tea Party Patriot porn.
11:37 a.m. Sunday
(p. viiii) Boom! The book starts off with a 10 question quiz to see if you’re allowed to enter Newt’s Honeycomb hideout. You have to answer on a scale of 1 (disagree) to 10 (totally agree) statements like “Men who assault pregnant women and kill the unborn child should be prosecuted for assault and murder” and “Believe in God.”
I scored over 50 – the minimum Gingrich requires to continue reading the book. So, I guess I’m patriotic enough.
(p. x – xix) Newt is big on lists. There are 5 threats to America, there are 3 solutions to the threats, etc., etc. He starts off with some boilerplate about how the nation’s bureaucracy doesn’t have a post 9-11 mindset which sounds like a left-handed slap at the Bush administration. Then he starts talking about his favorite people like right wing apologist Samuel Huntington and everyone’s favorite pseudo-science bigot of the 1990’s Charles Murray (one of the co-authors of the Bell Curve).
11:51 a.m. Sunday
Whew, this book is like a roller coaster, he’s throwing ideas at you left at right (mostly right) but so far there isn’t much a common sense American can disagree with. I take a break, a little too much hot air.
12:02 p.m. Sunday
(p. 6) The first anti-Clinton salvo.
“The Clinton administration consistently dealt with terrorism as a criminal matter. President George W. Bush recognized immediately that the 9-11 attack was an act of war and not the scene of a crime. He responded with military force – not detectives.”
DAYUM. Newt lays the smack down on the Clintons for going all Encyclopedia Brown on Bin Laden rather than pulling a Rambo like Bush. A reasonable argument for 2005.
(p. 9) The Gray World
Gingrich decides to flex some more brain power by describing the “Gray World” the criminal enterprises like illegal immigration, narcotics, people smuggling and arms dealing that terrorists organizations like Al Qaeda use to survive. It’s a pretty compelling description.
(p. 10) Recon Alert! Recon Alert!
“This Gray World has yet to be factored into our national security strategy. What this means is that fighting international crime is synonymous with fighting our terrorist enemies.”
Wait a minute. Didn’t you just say 4 pages ago that Clinton was a dummy for treating acts like crimes instead of acts of war? Now you’re saying that fighting crime is the same thing as fighting the War on Terror? Maybe it was an editorial mistake, clearly I’m just not understanding the brilliant contradictions of Newt’s terror strategy.
Gingrich is on a roll now, taking out suckers and they don’t know how he did it. The French are terrible allies (p. 14), the Iraqi military never should’ve been disbanded (p. 19) and Al Jazeera is evil. Ouch, that one hits close to home. (p. 22)
Gingrich makes his Drake pitch (I’m just saying you can do better) to Blacks and Hispanics on having privatized social security instead of the government system.
(p. 35) “The poor deal offered by Social Security applies with a vengeance to African Americans because they have shorter life expectancies than the general population. Consequently, they have fewer retirement years to collect benefits.”
(p.36) “The Hispanic population is much younger than the general population, and since the return paid by Society Security is falling over time, younger populations get lower returns on average than others.”
I love how he essentially compares African Americans to sea monkeys. We just naturally live shorter lives – hence, Social Security should be privatized so we get a chance to use it. It couldn’t be issues like lack of proper healthcare access, bad nutritional education and the LAPD. Along the same lines, those fruitful Hispanics just keep popping out babies that won’t get Social Security bennies either. There are huge problems with Social Security, there are innovative ways, including perhaps privatization, to fix the problem, but these are lousy arguments to earn minority votes.
Dr. Jason Johnson, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson