If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich -- like recent favorite Donald Trump -- is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt's not your guy.
Gingrich makes plenty of bombastic statements, but these never seem to translate into actual policy changes.
After becoming the first Republican speaker of the House in nearly half a century, for example, Newt promptly proposed orphanages and janitorial jobs for children on welfare.
It was true that welfare had destroyed generations of families shorn of the work ethic and led to soaring illegitimacy rates, child abuse and neglect. Maybe orphanages and child labor would have been better.
But we didn't get any orphanages. We didn't get jobs for children in families where no one works.
What we got was the cartoonish image of Republicans as hard-hearted brutes who hated poor kids.
Ronald Reagan was also accused of waging a war on the poor. But that was on account of his implementing historic tax cuts that produced not only record revenues for the government, but decades of prosperity for the entire nation.
With Newt, you get all the heat, blowback and acrimony, but you don't get the policy changes.
To the contrary, his pointless bloviating about orphanages and child janitors harmed the chances for welfare reform, despite the fact that the American people, the Republican Congress and the Democratic president (publicly, at least), supported it.
Indeed, when it came time to make vital changes to welfare policy, such as work requirements and anti-illegitimacy provisions, Gingrich tried to scuttle them. He denounced such provisions -- the very heart of welfare reform -- as, yes, "social engineering of the right" (e.g., Republican Governors Conference, Williamsburg, Va., Nov. 22, 1994).
The guy who wanted orphanages for children on welfare suddenly called work requirements for adults on welfare right-wing "social engineering."
Gingrich went on to lose almost every negotiation with Bill Clinton -- and that was with solid Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. His repeated capitulation to Clinton led former Vice President Dan Quayle to remark that the Republican "Contract With America" had become the "Contract With Clinton." (Not to be confused with Newt's book, "Contract With the Earth.")
Perfectly good policies are constantly being undermined by Newt's crazy statements -- such as his explanation that women couldn't be in combat because they get infections, whereas men "are basically little piglets," who are "biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes."
With Gingrich we get the worse of all worlds. He talks abrasively -- offending moderates and galvanizing liberals -- but then carries a teeny, tiny stick.
We want someone who will talk softly and unthreateningly while implementing vital policy changes. Even when Gingrich doesn't completely back off conservative positions, his nutty rhetoric undermines the ability of Republicans to get anything done.
By the time of the 1996 Republican National Convention, Gingrich was so widely reviled that the Democrats' main campaign strategy against all Republican candidates for office was to link them with Gingrich.
Gingrich was forced into a minor speaking role at the convention, which he used to promote ... beach volleyball.
That's right, Republicans were trying to defeat Clinton and Newt was talking about beach volleyball, which is apparently the essence of freedom -- as well as evidence of Newt's cuddly side!
(During the House ethics investigation of Gingrich, he produced notes in which he reminds himself to "allow expression of warm/smiling/softer side.")
After Gingrich had been speaker for a brief two years, the Republican House voted 395-28 to reprimand him and fine him $300,000 for ethics violations.
(Sen. Bob Dole loaned Gingrich the money in what was called the first instance of an airbag being saved by a person.)
It's true that Newt has had some good ideas -- but also boatloads of bad ones, such as his support for experimentation on human embryos, cap and trade, policies to combat imaginary man-made global warming, an individual health insurance mandate, Dede Scozzafava (Romney supported the tea party candidate), amnesty for illegal aliens, Al Gore's bill to establish an "Office of Critical Trends Analysis" to prepare government reports on "alternative futures" (co-sponsored by Gingrich), and thinking he could get away with taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac without anyone noticing.
During the ethics investigation, the committee also found among Newt's personal papers a sketch of himself as a stick figure at the center of the universe.
On one page, Newt called himself: "definer of civilization, teacher of the rules of civilization, arouser of those who fan civilization, organizer of the pro-civilization activists, leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."This is not a small-government conservative talking. It is not a conservative at all.