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Newt: 'Totally rattled' GOP better get behind Trump or hello Speaker Nancy Pelosi
From one who's been through these wars.
I was a fan of George W. Bush as president - a much bigger fan than most people, I think - but a very big mistake I think he made as president was to remain above the fray and be "presidential" while everyone else in Washington was engaged in its usual nonsense. His heart was in the right place, but his refusal to fight back against every insane Democrat attack gave his opponents the upper hand. Eventually it resulted in a Democrat takeover of both the House and the Senate in 2006, and stuck the nation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Is history about to repeat itself and inflict the same horror
Newt Gingrich has been through these wars and understands what happens when one side is constantly on the attack, and the other side is afraid to fight back. And he sees a similar dynamic developing now, except that it's not the White House that's afraid to fight. With the Democrats and the media bound and determined to absolutely destroy Donald Trump - and not the least bit concerned about the honesty with which they do it - Trump absolutely needs support from congressional Republicans. And Washington being what it is, it's hard to find anyone who wants to blaze the trail when there's perceived to be political risk involved.
Gingrich thinks it's time for them to stop being a bunch of cowards and understand the stakes if they back down:
Gingrich's rally 'round advice is in stark contrast to that of some on the right who say this is a moment for Republicans to challenge the president, especially after the latest leaks opened Trump to questions of obstruction of justice. Gingrich has been one of Trump's most stalwart supporters. His wife, Callista, is expected to be nominated as ambassador to the Vatican soon.
Other Republicans have been reticent to speak up in Trump's defense. But Gingrich was fired up and in a chatty mood, speaking by phone during a layover in Frankfurt after several days of speaking engagements in Kiev. He was infuriated with the media, particularly CNN, which he said is giving the rest of the world the impression that "America is terrifying" right now.
He said questions from his foreign audiences included "How close are we to a dictatorship?"
Gingrich had advice for Trump and his advisors: Get tougher on the media. He said the White House should cancel briefings — an idea Trump himself has floated — and refuse to respond to damaging stories, which he labeled "garbage."
“The reason they're having a tough time in the White House is that they keep kidding themselves about the environment they're working in," Gingrich said. "If you're surrounded by lions and hyenas, feeding them just increases their hunger.”
Yet Gingrich worried that his Republican allies in Congress are growing wobbly.
"They're totally rattled," he said, citing local town hall meetings disrupted by the "hard left," other forms of intimidation and even death threats.
"You either decide you’re going to cave and let the left own America," Gingrich said, "or you’re going to fight.”
We've already weighed in on the question of whether Republicans should "challenge the president," and Gingrich recognizes as we do that this is coming from the very people who would benefit if Republicans did their dirty work for them and took Trump down.
As I suggested in the piece linked in the previous paragraph, I don't think a lot of Washington's Republicans really want to get behind Trump. They don't like him and don't consider him one of them. These are people who have gotten pretty accustomed to the way business is done in Washington, and don't really welcome this new outsider president who wants to change everything. It might be better for the country but it's going to upset their way of life. It was easy for Republicans to mouth opposition to Obama's policies and get re-elected every two or six years. Once they're in the majority and they've got a president prepared to sign the bills they've always claimed to support, they have to consider the criticism they might absorb if their ideas actually become policy.
To paraphrase a recent commercial, conservatives don't actually do what they propose. They just propose it.
Maybe Republicans want to be back in the minority. If you can't win, you can't be blamed for the results of your policies. Democrats don't care if their policies ruin the country as long as it makes the federal government bigger and gives them more power. And Republicans have mastered the game of criticizing the results but never having to take the heat that comes with actually being in charge.
When Newt Gingrich was in Congress, he started out as a back-bencher, but he engineeered the astonishing 1994 Red Wave election that made him Speaker. And even with a Democrat in the White House, he was able to get a fair number of conservative policies signed into law. It was a fight, but Gingrich considered it worth having. And even though he paid a price for it and ended up out of politics entirely after a short run as Speaker, he still appears to believe in the same principles.
And he's right. If Republicans don't want to get behind Trump, they will end up back in the minority. The question is whether they really would mind that. Because if they wouldn't, I wonder if the people who keep electing them every two years realize the actual priorities of the people they're voting for.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!