To be frank, I was going to wait until former speaker, and current leading contender for the Oval Office, Newt Gingrich, was nominated to start this column, but what the hell.
Herman Cain has had his turn in the spotlight as has Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, so why not consider what is noteworthy about Newt, or Newt worthy. Newt Gingrich is now not only the soup du jour, he's the poop du jour, too.
Since Gingrich has essentially been the template for Republican politics for the past generation or more, there are a few things you might want to consider, if you haven't already, about a fellow who's been as close to Mount Rushmore for nearly as long as any president whose face is already carved there:
First, while he's most often thought of as a southerner, Newt Gingrich was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and, in his mid-teens, the family moved to Georgia. Remember, too, that Pennsylvania is a pivotal state that Obama needs to win in order to be reelected.
2) As House Minority Leader from 1989 to 1995, Newt Gingrich was preceded by Dick Cheney. Now that's a hard act to follow.
3) Gingrich was the 58th Speaker of the House from 1995 through 1999. Many recall that he stepped down due to ethics violations, but the full Ethics Committee didn't agree on what to do about charges against him including claims of fraudulent tax-exempt status, but instead left it up to the Internal Revenue Service to pursue. The IRS cleared his organization of charges in 1999.
4) In 2003, Gingrich founded the Center for Health Transformation which focused on individual preventive care.
5) Notably, in the past decade alone, as the Washington Post reports, companies with which Gingrich and his wife have been involved have made close to $100 million.
And, according to the Los Angeles Times, in the past four years, Gingrich's net worth has tripled from $2.4 million to $6.7 million.
6) Callista Gingrich, Newt's third wife, heads a company called Gingrich Productions which was founded in 2007. It is a self-described media production company from which Newt Gingrich reportedly earned more than $2 million in 2010.
7) In that same year, former speaker Gingrich wrote Rediscovering God in America, a book in which he contends that the framers of the Constitution wanted religion to play a key role in the republic.
8) And, one day after Newt called Obama the "food stamp president," deep in the heart of Texas, a young mother of two killed herself, and shot both of her children in a welfare office after having been denied food stamps.
Keep this in mind and remember that, as House speaker, Gingrich worked his butt off to pass "welfare reform" legislation, which then President Clinton vetoed twice. Gingrich did manage to pass legislation tightening food stamp eligibility, cutting Aid to Dependent Families, reducing welfare assistance to immigrants while urging that states be responsible for making these allocations like any good federalist. At the same time, Gingrich was a virulent advocate for lowering the capital gains taxes, and corporate income taxes. Somehow, I think in a year when the number of Americans collecting food stamps has reached an all-time record, and more children are living in poverty than ever before, the policies of Gingrich and his party will resonate in middle-America
Rick Perry isn't the only one who balanced his state budget on the backs of the working poor. Newt Gingrich et. al would do the same with the federal budget. Remember, when you hear all this talk about "spending cuts," remember who Newt Gingrich wanted to cut when he was House speaker.
What a statement about the values of a country when everyone talks about the hypocrisy of a candidate whose calling card was family values in terms of how he treated his ex-wives, and few are talking about what Newt Gingrich did to poor and working families in America.
Make no mistake, there are Republicans out there who like to think of Gingrich as the Comeback Kid. Newt Gingrich should be welcomed back as much as Al Capone would be.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for smaller government, especially when government, for the past 30 plus years, has been fighting to distinguish itself from organized crime.
The Gingrich Republicans have made a career out of recycling. Newt Gingrich is Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan rolled up into one. But, Barry Goldwater would have run off to an ashram by now.
In the end, maybe all politics is about recycling. If so, we need to start with better stock.