Guy Who Though Obama Was Pretty Great Is Not A Fan Of Newt Gingrich’s
Mickey Edwards is a former Congressman from Oklahoma and a founding trustee at the Heritage Foundation. He knows Newt Gingrich, he worked with Newt Gingrich and he’s not a fan of Newt Gingrich.
Yet this does not explain why so many — myself included — are so disturbed at the possibility of a Gingrich presidency. So first let us consider the attributes that are desirable in a president of the United States, whose job description includes representing America on the world stage and directing the administrative activities of the government in accordance with federal law. To describe Gingrich as “volatile” is like describing Picasso as somebody who liked to draw. Political chatterers point to this volatility as something to be concerned about in terms of a possible Gingrich eruption in the debates; I worry about it in terms of America’s relationships with other nations. Gingrich sees the world as a battleground — more than any other man alive, he is responsible for creating the nonstop partisan warfare that has made American government so dysfunctional. Even before his election as Republican whip in 1989, he had begun to demand a no-compromise war for political power; it is his sole belief system. It is distinctly at odds with the Founders’ conception of peoples’ representatives gathering in a Congress to reason together to shape the nation’s laws. It is why they argued against creating strong political parties like the ones they had left behind in Europe. But to Gingrich, parties — confrontational parties — are essential tools to be used to gain, and hold, power. It is power, not wise governance, that exerts the magnetic pull.
Gingrich is more responsible for “nonstop partisan warfare” than anyone alive? Gingrich is responsible for “no-compromise” political warfare?
Did Edwards miss all of American history before 1994? When exactly did this golden age of political sweetness and light exist? Perhaps it was during the administration of George Washington. No, it wasn’t then. It certainly wasn’t during the founding era when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson got along so famously well. Maybe it was during the lead up to the…Civil War? Perhaps during Reconstruction? Surely it must have been the early part of 20th Century during either the time of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson or FDR. No, it was any of those either. Clearly there must have been political peace and love during the 60’s! Um, no. Democrats must have respected and cooperated with Nixon. Well, for awhile, yeah.
Does Edwards really think that Democrats were more respectful of Ronald Reagan and didn’t try and thwart him at every turn? Surely not since as Edwards himself points out, he worked with Reagan (more than Newt did he’ll remind you).
And when Bill Clinton ran for President claiming a mild recession was “the worst economy since the Great Depression” and rammed a tax hike through the House by one vote (despite having run on a promise to cut taxes), that was just dandy.
Then along came the man who ruined America…Newt Gingrich. He had the temerity to steal from the Democrats their birth right to control the House of Representatives. Or maybe Edwards thinks if Newt had just asked nicely the Democrats would have handed over the House because when they were kids their mothers taught them to share.
You know the one defining trait of Edwards’ imagined period of political Eden that existed before Newt ate the apple? The expansion of the federal government. Now Newt talks a better game of shrinking government than he plays but at least he put it on the agenda in the 90s.
Let me stipulate a few things Edwards charges Gingrich with..being a showoff, full of himself and confrontational. According to the number I just pulled out of thin air, this is also describes about 95% of successful people to some degree and 99% of all successful politicians. If Republicans didn’t want to move to the right they could have nominated George H.W. Bush over Reagan in 1980. In the 90s House Republicans could have kept electing Gerald Ford and Bob Michel types to be their leaders. They made lovely minority leaders and I’m sure their successors would have too.
Oh and one last thought, consider this bit of Edwards’ record when you decide how much stock to put in Edwards’ judgement of politicians and their personal qualities.
GROSS: You’re a lifelong Republican, former Republican Congressman. What are your thoughts today on the election of Barack Obama?
Mr. EDWARDS: Well, you know, I feel very good about it. I feel good for a couple of reasons, the fact that Barack Obama ran a pretty positive, upbeat kind of campaign. I mean, he criticized John McCain’s positions on a number of issues. He criticized, as he should have, George W. Bush for a lot of his policies and the way his administration performed, but he also talked an awful lot about the fact that we’re not red states and blue states. We’re the United States.
And, you know, it says something about America that you would take somebody who is part of a minority of just over 12 percent of the population and elect that person to be president. There aren’t very many countries on the planet that would do that, and so I think it’s hard to not be really positive about the outcome of that election.
GROSS: Would it be too personal for me to ask if you voted for him?
Mr. EDWARDS: I did support Obama, yes. And it was not easy, you know. I’ve been, as you pointed out, I’ve been a Republican for my entire adult life. I served in Congress as a member of the Republican leadership. I was a policy director for the Reagan campaign in 1980. So, I mean, it wasn’t easy, you know, to support a Democrat for president, but I did.
GROSS: How much of your support for Obama was enthusiasm for Obama, and how much of it was disillusionment with the direction the Republican Party is headed in?
Mr. EDWARDS: That’s a really good question, Terry, because what I like about Obama primarily was not his policies, you know, I’m a Republican, but the fact that his temperament was the kind of temperament I think we need in the White House – calm, mature, thoughtful, deliberate. So, that had a lot to do with why I like Obama, but the fact is, the last eight years under this president, and, you know, I was a foreign policy adviser to George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000 when he ran.