An Example of the Problem

Posted: Dec 05, 2011 9:21 AM
It is no surprise that Eva Longoria is challenging Newt Gingrich over remarks he made about poor children; she is, after all, a big Obama supporter.

What IS surprising is that the "New Newt" -- if there is, indeed, such a thing -- would provide her with such a ripe, easily exploited target.  Why in the world would he make such remarks, which were bound to be misunderstood, misinterpreted and highly polarizing?  As background, he said the following:

"Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around the who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday.  They have no habit of staying all day, they  have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash' unless it is illegal."

Look, there's no doubt that culture -- ie, the life choices one makes -- play a vital role in life outcomes.  It's been documented that one's chances of falling into (or remaining in) poverty are significantly reduced by following three "golden rules": (1) graduating from high school; (2) getting married and staying  married; and (3) not having children until one is married.

But challenging the work habits "poor children" in the way Gingrich chose to do it is, understandably, offensive to many people -- not all of them poor (many, indeed, are likely to be the suburban independent female voters either presidential candidate will need to win).  Whatever the truths of his statements, the way he chose to deliver them creates unnecessary controversy and allows Democrats to play into a stereotype of Republicans as heartless and insensitive to the plight of those less fortunate -- a political loser in an economy where many otherwise self-sufficient people are struggling.

What's more, it distracts attention from where voters need to be focusing -- on the dismal economy and President Obama's responsibility for it.

In short, it is another example of Gingrich's verbal indiscipline (reminiscent of the orphanage and the Susan Smith debacles from the 90's) becoming a secret weapon -- for the Democrats.