Chief Political Correspondent Jason Johnson ends his blog on Newt Gingrich’s “Winning the Future,” published in 2005
(p. 148) I’m back, ready to knock out my final few pages in the mind of our …. possibly one day president? Gingrich is talking about his innovative “Earn to Learn” program where children in Atlanta area schools could earn up to $3.00 per book they read over the summer. He paid for the program out of his own speakers fees. Which is actually a great idea, if you’ve got private individuals willing to put up the cash to fund it. But, don’t hold you breath.
He just keeps going and going. Chapter 14. Newt is a huge fan of the Internet; in fact he sees it as being the solution to almost every problem of government inefficiency. Medical records should be on-line, teaching should be on-line, and the solution to all campaign finance is just to have contributors post their donations on-line. (p. 181).
I get it – but, like most things he never actually explains how or who will actually organize this wonderful online universe where everyone has information access. Who will maintain it?
More importantly, posting information is very different from citizens being able to do anything with that information. Either way he throws out one of the best slogans of the book to explain how the internet should speed up and improve government service.
“On-Line is better than In-line” (p. 171) after a couple of slow pages on the environment we’re heating back up to big exciting unfunded mandate Gingrich.
Finally, Newt expresses his disdain for the press, and how the Presidential debate commission should be scrapped in favor of Lincoln-Douglas debates between candidates. This is either really innovative on his part, or he’s just lazy because he hates prepping for debates. Interestingly enough, he’s already doing Lincoln-Douglass debates with everyone from Herman Cain to Jon Huntsman, so maybe his plans are coming true.
And the Gingrich Challenge is OV-AH! The conclusion wraps up most of his book, advertises for his website (which is strewn throughout the book) and finally focuses on his New Contract for the 21st century which is a program/platform that will make all of Gingrich’s plans manifest in perfect conservative reality.
After this 4 hour marathon, has my view of Newt Gingrich changed? Do I now view him with softer eyes than the bastard child of Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck that I considered him to be before I started reading?
Not at all. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a very smart guy, a pretty good writer and can explain his ideas with amazing clarity both in prose and on stage. I knew that before I started.
However, what I know now with absolute certainty is that he has great ideas and little or no way to make them happen. Gingrich’s polices exist in a world where Blacks are helpless plebes, government has shrunk but invades your life even more and your average citizen wants to spend their free time sitting on patriotism committees when in reality people fight like mad to avoid jury duty. It is one thing to have unfunded mandates, it is entirely another thing to seek a transformation of American government and society through a contract that ignores the financial, cultural and structural realities on the ground. Whether he becomes the nominee or not, one thing is sure: there is no way that Newt Gingrich is Winning the Future. The man barely has any idea what’s happening in the present.
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