Seriously, Newt?

All the Occupy movement starts with the premise that we all owe them everything. They use a public park they didn’t pay for, go nearby to use bathrooms they didn’t pay for, to beg food from places they don’t want to pay for, to obstruct those who are going to work to pay the taxes to sustain the bathrooms and the park so they can self-righteously explain they are the paragons of virtue to which we owe everything… Go get a job right after you take a bath.”

— Newt Gingrich, November 19, 2011.

That statement says a lot more about Newt Gingrich than it does about the Occupy Wall Street protesters. First, the assertions are false pretty much all the way through. Many of the Occupy protesters are out of work, but they did pay taxes when they had employment, so they did indeed pay for those parks and public restrooms.

I spent some time talking with, and sometimes challenging, an Occupy protester at the information desk at Occupy Denver. I suspect that Newt has not had such as experience, but prefers to pontificate from his ivory tower. What that Occupy protester explained was that he got laid off from his job in 2008. All he had been able to get is temporary work, but he gets terminated when his hours get him too close to full time. He then jumps to another temporary job. He is working and wants to work more, but is unable to find the work. Nowhere in that conversation was there a sense that “we all owe them everything.”

I can’t understand how Newt can claim to love America, but have contempt for some many Americans and ridicule the most American of ideals – the right to assembly and free speech and to air grievances about policies in our country.

Newt is as out-of-touch with middle America as you might expect from someone who has a $250,000 no-interest revolving charge account at Tiffany’s and made over $1.6 million in consulting fees from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

… and this guy is a front runner for the GOP presidential nomination.

That suggests that the problem with conservatives extends well beyond Newt.

In my experience, the majority of my Republican friends are caring and compassionate people for their family, friends and associates, but it stops there. There is no empathy and often outright contempt for those different than them. Sometimes it is differences in ethnicity, perhaps religion, or perhaps socio-economic status, but if you are different, you somehow aren’t a real American.

Is this the party that we want to lead this country?

 

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4 Responses to “Seriously, Newt?”

  1. Dave Says:

    I’ve never really had a big issue with Newt but the “take a bath” comment is a little over the top, especially for a politician.

  2. juwannadoright Says:

    I appreciated your OWS entry and the fact that you actually took the time to interview one of its participants.

    I had a similar experience when a small contingent of OWS people conducted a march here in Las Vegas and I interviewed two of those people. My experience was somewhat different than yours – and I detailed my conversations in my blog entry.

    I do agree that many people have close and warm feelings for people who are like them – for their friends and family – and are uncomfortable with people who are “different”. I do not believe that is a Republican, Libertarian or Democratic problem. That is a human problem.

    I spent most of my life in Hyde Park in Chicago. The neighborhood was a wonderful melting pot with people of every ethnicity, religion, cultural background and economic standing. In fact, President Obama got his start in the Illinois State Senate from my elective district. I lived in an oasis in what was probably the most racially-divided city in the north during the 1960’s. It was an exceptional neighborhood and I wish there were more like it throughout the country.

    But the most prescient comment that you made was “do you want people like that leading the country.” It should be apparent that the answer is an emphatic NO. Unfortunately, the disease of arrogrance and self-interest – which I believe are the fundamental problems – seems to be widespread among members on both sides of the aisle in Congress. And the White House seems to have been infected as well.

    We deserve better.

    Juwanna Doright

  3. libtalker Says:

    Yes, I think Newt is lashing out at a different group of people entirely. He really doesn’t know much about the people or their motives–especially if most are in the same or similar situation to the person you spoke with in Denver.
    The sense that we should be self-sufficient and hard working is a good one that most of us live by and expect the same of others. It does take some digging to understand why some people just can’t get or keep a job. I wonder if many are unrealistic about what kind of work they should be doing. (Did we work so hard on their self esteem that they can’t imagine a routine, menial job?) Aside from health issues, I believe there is some sort of work for everyone. It might mean relocating and being underpaid based on education or experience, but there are jobs. Once more people are paying taxes, we’ll all be better off.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t think the middle class is declining. In fact, most of the issues the Occupiers raise are issues I agree with. Big business is guilty of greed and corruption and to some degree, government policies have had problems as well.
    The otherization (at least that’s what we call it in the debate scene!) you refer to is truly a big difference between the D’s and the R’s. It’s human nature to fear or distrust those who are different. The difference is that most Democrats are ultimately much more likely to give a person or group a chance before judging them. This was never more clear to me than right after the election when I saw the rage and fear expressed by so many Republican friends and family. When I ran out of explanations for their reactions, I came to the realization it was racism that was motivating them. Funny…that seems so long ago already. Wouldn’t it have been crazy to have had Cain vs. Obama? Maybe the racial divide actually is smaller.
    Well, I’m rambling, but thanks for getting me thinking, as usual!

  4. Joe Says:

    This is simple fault projection.

    WHO is it, Newt, that thinks we all owe them everything?

    The relatively poor protestors that would just like a better-than-minimum wage job and decent healthcare?

    Or is it your rich crony friends that hire lobbyists and demand that we continue to subsidize fossil fuel industries to the tune of $700B per year?

    Or demand that we bail out their CDS gambling, and also demand no conditions in order to take our money in order to keep from cratering the economy worse than they already did?

    Or demand that we continue to spend more on Defense than the rest of the world combined, while also demanding that we cut benefits from the programs that taxpayers have paid for themselves, SocSec and the Meds?

    Look in the mirror, Newt, if you want to see the REAL face of arrogant entitlement.

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