John McCaslin

Who would have thought that nearly 20 years after President Reagan bid farewell to a long and dangerous Cold War that the very existence of the United States would be threatened?

"The whole process is broken," former House speaker and possible 2008 presidential contender Newt Gingrich told a small group of conservatives Monday at the Connecticut Avenue offices of Dezenhall Resources.

In particular, he warned of five foreign and internal forces that threaten the nation: terrorism and rogue governments; loss of patriotism among Americans; economic decline owing to poor math and science education; financial burdens from Social Security and Medicare; and the disappearance of God in everyday life.

"I think the challenges we face are very big," Gingrich said, adding that fixing them calls for "very deep and very dramatic change."

Until then, he said, the U.S. government is not capable of an adequate response to numerous real threats, whether it be terrorists striking the United States with a weapon of mass destruction or an outbreak of bird flu.

Should such a nationwide catastrophe unfold, Gingrich said Americans "won't have a clear idea of what the next week will bring."

"I think we are cheerfully drifting our way through," he said.

In his new book "Winning the Future," Gingrich expands on his groundbreaking Contract With America to offer a new blueprint for the future, a "21st-century Contract With America," if you will.

(Ed. Note: "Winning the Future" is only $9.95 this week at the Townhall Book Service.)

UNDISPUTED DEAN

Congratulations to 79-year-old Rep. John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat, for having now served the longest tenure - 50 years and counting - in the 435-member House of Representatives.

Dingell started his Capitol Hill career in 1955 at the age of 29, when his father died while still a congressman and he stepped in to fill the void. He has since served in 25 Congresses under 10 presidents.

As for the current commander in chief, the veteran Democrat actually praised President Bush's State of the Union address last week, calling it "balanced."

"After years of divisive rhetoric, he spoke like a man wanting to work with the opposition," said Dingell. "It is now my hope that these words are matched with deeds; if they are, I will be happy to work with him."

MAKING HAY


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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