In a campaign year full of surprises, perhaps one of the biggest surprises is the resurgence of Newt Gingrich. While it's true he hadn't peaked yet like the other candidates that have risen to the top, only to fall again, he was all but written off months ago. Now that he's the new darling, he is getting a lot more "face time" with the press. Of course, this means he also has been given more opportunities to stick his foot in it, and boy has he.
It's not like he came into this untainted. He was run out of the House for ethics violations. He's had two affairs (that we know of) and three wives. He has a bad habit of shifting money from his non-profits into his own pockets.
But it's his recent comments on childhood that give one pause:Work ethic
Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working, and have nobody around them who works. So they literally 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’s illegal.
You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine," Mr. Gingrich said. "You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model. Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising.
It's not like we shouldn't have seen this coming. Back in 2008, Gingrich was declaring that we should do away with adolescence
, and move kids directly from childhood to young adulthood:
The solution is dramatic and unavoidable: We have to end adolescence as a social experiment. We tried it. It failed. It's time to move on. Returning to an earlier, more successful model of children rapidly assuming the roles and responsibilities of adults would yield enormous benefit to society.
Prior to the 19th century, it's fair to say that adolescence did not exist.
It's time to change this—to shift to serious work, learning, and responsibility at age 13 instead of age 30.
There's plenty more jaw-dropping stuff like this at the link. Go ahead and read - I'll wait...
While the other candidates want to turn the clock back to the 50s, Gingrich wants to turn the clock back to the 1800s. He seems to be more than willing to blame poor kids for being poor, and blaming all kids for being kids. His plan isn't to create jobs, it's to put more adults out of work and hire kids in their place. I guess he thinks kids won't unionize.
It does make one wonder what sort of childhood Newt Gingrich had. Was he up at the crack of dawn, working to help support his family? A year ago, he created a fantasy of his past
as American as apple pie (made by Grandmas, not kids in factories):
Speaking of childhood, he makes his sound ideal. His family were the kind of people that "Norman Rockwell captures in his pictures," he says, stiff-necked individualists who "came out of the mountains from small farms" and served in World War II, people who had "an old-fashioned deep belief in citizenship" that was "like living at Mount Vernon kind of stuff." He speaks fondly of the "lovely older lady" who used to listen to his stories, the newspaper editor who first published him, the aunt who made sugar pies, the grandmother who had an "old-fashioned belief in citizenship," even the crusty old bureaucrat who spent an afternoon telling a ten-year-old why the town couldn't afford to build a zoo. And no, he never felt like an oddball. "I felt unique in a way that I think every American should feel unique — if I wanted to open up a lemonade stand, I opened up a lemonade stand."
in reality, he was an Army brat
, and lived in Europe for several years before moving back to America. There's nothing there about working at 13. Like most kids, he had big dreams and goals, but that doesn't translate into sweeping floors at his school. It seems to be another case of "do as I say, not as I did". It's also interesting that he wanted nothing more than a career in politics, where he'd essentially be living off taxpayer money.
He was also hot for teacher, marrying his high school geometry teacher a year out of high school. Now THAT'S what I call ambition realized.
Ultimately, Newt is a career politician who rails against government. He's a leech sucking at the teat of his various fund-raising schemes and non-profits, while proclaiming the problem in this country is a poor work ethic. He criticized Clinton for his dalliances while he was in the middle of an affair himself. In a country full of sleazy, hypocritical politicians, Gingrich is king.