Monday, November 14, 2011

A Republican Game of Musical Chairs

The Republicans who are running to replace President Obama in January, 2013 are now playing musical chairs.

Over the past few days, and since the latest debate in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich is now in first place, and neck to neck with longtime frontrunner Mitt Romney. According to the latest CNN/ORC International Poll, Gingrich has now replaced Herman Cain as being statistically tied with the former Massachusetts governor.

Frankly, I never thought the day would come when I'd have to do this, but given the youngest crop of voters, those who accounted for the large turnout in 2008, know little or nothing about Mr. Gingrich, why not bring them up to date.

For openers, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, replaced Dick Cheney as House Minority Whip. Gingrich was among the co-authors of the Contract with America a conservative document published in 1994 which, among other things, became the bible of House Republicans at the time who also endorsed welfare and social security reform.

Notably, others who signed the Contract with America, often associated with Gingrich, are Tom DeLay and Dick Armey, both of whom are no longer in office. Dick Armey, by the way, joins the Koch brothers in backing the current Tea Party. And, apart from being a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, you may recall, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was convicted in 2010 of illegally funneling corporate money into coffers of Texas campaigns back in 2002.

Interestingly, another co-signer of the Contract with America is Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Some of the major tenets of what was a conservative's handbook were shrinking the size of government, welfare reform, social security reform, advocacy for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, and tort reform, but their underlying federalist.

Gingrich will be remembered as one of the key players in what has come to be known as the Republican Revolution in the House back in 1994 that was also responsible for cutting the capital gains tax, and pushing through welfare reform despite the fact that then-President Bill Clinton twice vetoed that legislation.

Just as he was Bill Clinton's nemesis in the mid-1990's, Gingrich is primed and ready to be Barack Obama's nemesis now.

Thanks to Gingrich's muscle, Clinton is now erroneously credited with a measure that turns welfare appropriations over to the states, a disasterous notion in these dire times when many states are in deep water. It is also the Contract for America mindset that now calls for repeal of so-called Obamacare, and turning Medicare over to the states to administer.

President Clinton, you'll recall, and First Lady Hillary Clinton, weren't focusing on welfare reform at all, but instead on universal health care. It was House Republicans then, just as it is House Republicans now, who obstructed health care reform in the mid-1990's.

Once the balance of power between Republicans and Democrats again shifted, Gingrich stepped down as Speaker of the House back in 1998.

Now, fast forward. Are many of the ideas Gingrich, Armey, DeLay, and Boehner (yes, John Boehner)thirteen years ago all that different from what we hear from Romney, Perry, Cain, Bachmann and friends now?

If you like what Contract with America represents, ensuring the primacy of 1% of the population at the expense of the other 99% even if one has to do so by laundering campaign money, then vote Republican in 2012. If not, then pass this information on to anyone under 30, or who has conveniently allowed themselves to forget the transgressions of men like DeLay and Jack Abramoff, both outgrowths of the Republican Revolution, too.