Tony Blankley

The report explained: "The Alzheimer's crisis, like the disease itself, will unfold gradually, making it all too easy to ignore until we have little opportunity to alter its impact. ... If we fail to address the Alzheimer's crisis now, we face the prospect of losing lives and dollars on much larger scale. ... Alzheimer's disease is already the Nation's third most expensive disease, costing the Federal Government alone more than $100 billion per year. ... An investment in Alzheimer's is not only good social policy, it is an economic necessity."

Yeah, just another $20 trillion "niche" issue. The fact that the Post story was correct in saying that for most presidential candidates, Alzheimer's is a third- or fourth-tier issue is not a good argument for the other candidates.

Breakthroughs in Alzheimer's and diabetes -- another issue Newt has seen coming and been fighting hard for at least since the 1995 Medicare reform bill -- would, by themselves, largely solve our Medicare and Medicaid cost problems. Too bad Washington didn't take Newt's advice two decades ago.

Consider the other "niche" and "pet" issues the Post story sneered at Newt for discussing -- pharmaceutical costs and taking care of military families. Well, pharmaceutical therapy is now "the cornerstone of modern medicine," according to David J. Gibson, M.D. "It is the primary mode of treatment for over 85 percent of conditions that, without therapy, would result in the need for hospitalization of the patient." It is approaching 20 percent of medical expenses -- and going up fast. Some "pet" issue.

As for the cost of taking care of our veterans and military families, anyone remotely familiar with the projections of the defense budget knows that if we don't both improve the attitude toward and better manage the cost, we will risk both a lower volunteer rate and an unsustainable cost increase. Once again, Newt has been advocating shrewdly about this matter at least since the 1990s, when he used to discuss it with me and others. Of course, Newt came from a military family, so he had an unfair advantage in understanding the issue.

At a time when the combined intellect of the Congress and the executive branch can't seem to think its way to even an interim solution to a single problem on our nation's ever-expanding list of dreadful problems, perhaps the media (and the public) might want to stop sneering and take a serious look at Newt's "ideas." He's got a lot of them -- and every one would be an improvement over current trends (about which about 3 in 4 Americans believe we are going in the wrong direction).

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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