This column was co-authored by Borko Komnenovic
Newt Gingrich is getting attacked again by the redundant liberals at the Washington Post. Yawn.
That isn’t big news, especially when the Post does it. What should be the concern, however, is the method some members of the media use to discredit him on what is one of his strongest cards in this primary game—Reagan conservatism. Liberalism is one thing. The pretense of professional journalism is quite another.
News flash to the Post: No one in their right mind (or the right) has ever thought that paper were a gateway to Reaganism. Indeed, some still remember the savaging the Post laid on Reagan for years.
The University of West Georgia, where Gingrich once taught, holds the collection of papers which he donated years ago. It is not open to the public, since it hasn’t been fully processed yet, but under the Freedom of Information regulations some members of the media have gotten into it enough just to pull out material to hit him with, never to find complimentary information.
It is not quite expected that every reporter that opens the UWG files falls in love with Gingrich, but what really surprises is how they tend to use the unrepresentative sample in order to push their previously prepared agenda. How else can it be explained that Gingrich was taking aim “not only at a beloved conservative icon” (Reagan) but also at limited government, as Jerry Markon’s recent piece in the Washington Post suggests?
A reporter really has to go out of his way to omit in these files pieces that read, for instance, “Being a loyal ally of President Reagan’s has its rewards. One of those reaped by Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was a weekend trip from him…to the tiny Caribbean island of Antigua… to represent the United States at Antigua’s Independence Day celebration.”
Shock and surprise, this also never made it into the Markon piece.
Or the piece from 31 years ago that came out in the local Carrollton, GA newspaper “Gingrich Lauds Reagan Economics—U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich spoke only in glowing terms of…President Reagan” That was the case when then newly elected President Reagan outlined in the speech “the basic elements of his national economic plan” to which Gingrich remarked, “anybody who knows anything about my campaign knows these are the things I’ve been saying.”
Markon somehow missed this too. Tisk. Tisk.
In April of the same year 1981 under the title “Gingrich Working to Pass Tax Cut Program” the local newspaper explained how Gingrich was elected to “head a group of Congressmen seeking to pass a tax cut program that will help bring about economic recovery for the country” citing him as saying “our major concern will be to convince the House to pass a long-term tax cut as proposed by President Reagan.”
Now how is it a professional journalist at the Post missed this piece to give his balance?
In fact, these files are full of stories that cite Gingrich a “chairman of a House working group on tax cuts” that was assembled to help Reagan pass his historic tax cuts. BTW, the very same Post savaged 31 years ago, saying they would never turn the economy around or create jobs.
Good thing America listened to the Post.
Almost all the Georgia newspapers at the time took exceptional pride that “our own Rep. Newt Gingrich is in full support of the economic proposals and is heading Reagan’s ‘preaching’ force… that is travelling around the country trying to convince people how much the budget and tax cuts will benefit them.”
University of West Georgia papers speak volumes about Newt Gingrich preaching the national shift from “a liberal welfare state to a conservative opportunity society,” as UPI reported in 1982. The opportunity society was the theme Reagan borrowed from Gingrich to use in his reelection campaign.
In 1985 Newt Gingrich wrote an opinion piece published by the local newspaper Carrollton Times-Georgiantitled “The Reagan Revolution Continues.” He said,
“President Reagan’s…efforts to develop a second American Revolution…are also reflected in the desires of the American people. I believe the President is heading us in the right direction. The country wants tax simplification with a fairer, simpler system. And the country wants in effort to create new jobs through the private enterprise system with some kind of enterprise zone.
He [Reagan] wants to control federal spending, to avoid tax increases, and to encourage the economic growth that will create more jobs. This will increase revenue for the government as more people go to work and earn more money…
President Reagan’s call for a balanced budget amendment follows in his tradition of years of campaigning for a permanent Constitutional change that will remain after Reagan is gone. He knows that he’s fiscally conservative, but he would like to leave a framework for fiscal conservatism so that future Congresses would have to balance the budget except in times of war or national emergency. He’s moving us in the right direction.
All in all, this was an excellent speech building on Reagan’s commitment to create an opportunity society.”
The general message Newt Gingrich carried had not much changed since he got elected to the Congress. Yes, he did criticize Reagan, but it was done from the conservative position when the Reagan administration was raising taxes or not being tough enough on the Kremlin. Gingrich was not alone.
Newt Gingrich has always been the kind of politician who pushed the envelope and to do that sometimes he did give statements that seem out of place from today’s standpoint. However, that’s the price you have to pay if you want to make the difference from the minority position in the House of Representatives.
The attacks that come both from Newt’s primary opponents and some members of the media, use calculatedly extracted information in order to distort what the overall message of his political involvement has been and that is a pure case of small government conservatism. Why would then they miss to report that UWG papers also have Jack Kemp saying, “Newt Gingrich understands what is wrong and what we must do to make America right again” or Milton Friedman “I write to congratulate you, [Mr. Gingrich], on the stand you have taken about the so-called budget agreement. We need lower taxes, not higher taxes; less government spending, not more government spending presented as less by virtue of treating prices paid by recipients as if that was simply a reduction in expenditures,” or the supply-side leading economist Jude Wanniski “The best news for us… is the emergence of Newt Gingrich as a world-class leader.”
Let’s not forget, the conservative icon Berry Goldwater who, as Nancy Reagan said in 1995, “handed the torch to Ronnie” did not endorse Reagan in the 1976 primary battle. But does that make Reagan less of a conservative?
Oh yes, Mrs. Reagan went on to say that “Ronnie” has passed that very same torch to “Newt.”
With this kind of use of archived material in the hands of some at the Washington Post, even George Washington could be made look like a villain.
On the other hand, to some at the Washington Post, George Washington probably is a villain.