Grading Gregory is a (sometimes) weekly column highlighting one of Meet the Press’s headline interviews with the best journalist in the business, David Gregory.
This week, we turn (back) to one of the Republican candidates for the Presidency, Newt Gingrich. It feels like Gregory has had Newt on every week for the past two months – ever since he all but declared that he would be the nominee shortly after Thanksgiving.
The Gingrich interview is really becoming Gregory’s speciality. What makes him such a good journalist is that unlike most opinion oriented journalists, he actually points out when politicians are being less than truthful, and points out the lies. What makes the Gingrich interviews so compelling is that Newt’s egotistical and arrogant manner of discussion makes it seem that he might actually believe his own lies. Sometimes it is obvious when a politician is just reciting a line and pandering (see Romney, Mitt). When Newt says outrageous things (like guaranteeing that we will have a colony on the moon by the end of his second term…WHAT?) he actually seems to believe them. It’s like he lives in an alternate universe where shame doesn’t exist. How else do you explain his attempt to impeach President Clinton for his extra-marital affair while simultaneously conducting his own extra-marital affair?
This week, I wanted to highlight some of the most egregious lies and halftruths that Gingrich throws out at Gregory. Let’s take a look at some of his direct quotations.
1.) On the social safety net: “Real conservatives, who’ve been trying for years to develop a trampoline effect where we help people leave poverty, we help them find better schools, we help them find jobs, we help them improve neighborhoods.”
Now, welfare and Newt has become a gift that keeps on giving. He has already gone on record saying that poor kids are lazy, and should get jobs as school janitors. He has told the NAACP that they should stop accepting welfare checks and start demanding paychecks. In fact conservatives have been trying to dismantle the social safety net by rolling back the very programs that are designed to help poor people. He may have helped to enact welfare reform in the 90s…but these days, his rhetoric is troublingly racist.
2.) On the positive economic news: “You know why [the unemployment rate] dropped? Because over 4 percent of the people who would be unemployed have quit looking for work. If we had the same participation rate we had a couple of years ago, we’d be at 12 or 13 percent unemployment. People just quit looking.”
In this case, Newt is lying through his teeth in order to maintain the Republican message that Obama is destroying the economy and we need the conservatives to save us. The economy added 243,000 jobs in January – and the unemployment rate dropped even as more people began looking for work. Not only are there more jobs – but there are better paying jobs, and the government even revised its previous numbers to more accurately reflect the fact that the economy added twice as many jobs in 2011 as it did in 2010. While it is true that the unemployment rate has declined due to people dropping out of the workforce in the past, that is not the case today – the January job numbers were the best that we have seen in years, but the problem for Newt is that it doesn’t fit into his campaign strategy, so instead of trying to come up with a factual argument – he makes up a lie to disparage Obama.
3.) On energy policy: “It’s combined with the highest priced gasoline in American history because of [Obama’s] anti-American energy policies”
Much to the chagrin of the progressive base that launched Obama to the White House, Obama has actually opened up more areas to drilling than every before. In fact, domestic oil drilling was up 60% in 2011, reaching its highest level since 1987. Conservatives love to point out the Solyndra failure as the lynchpin for their argument that Obama’s green initiatives are failing…but they conveniently ignore the fact that Obama has quadrupled the number of oil rigs in the United States. The US Energy Information Administration has also shown that opening up all of the offshore drilling in the US would have absolutely zero effect on gasoline prices for the next decade. So, how exactly would Newt’s approach differ? Would he quintuple the number of oil wells? And how would he magically lower gasoline prices that are affected mainly by OPEC, and not US policy? As always, never trust anything a politician says about gas prices.
It seems clear to me that Newt is more concerned about maintaining his personal political paradigm that paints himself as the savior of our flagging nation than about actual reality. To state that the he is concerned about the welfare of our poorest citizens, that the economy is being mishandled, and that Obama’s energy policies are anti-american is ignorant as best, but the more likely scenario is that he knows that he is being dishonest, but he doesn’t care as long as it improves his public image. We have seen this story before, and for anyone living in this universe, it should only end in disgrace.