In two books, the man who calls President Barack Obama a “food-stamp president” praised the man whose administration created the first food stamp program.
Snubbing 16 other presidents including Ronald Reagan, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Franklin D. Roosevelt “probably the greatest president of the twentieth century” in his 1995 book To Renew America.
In a passage of the book in which Gingrich laid out examples of historical figures asking for God’s help for the nation, he praised Roosevelt for “openly appeal[ing] to the nation’s sense of faith and religion in summing the national will to the task” of defeating Nazi Germany.
“With the attention of the entire nation riveted upon him, President Roosevelt did a remarkable thing,” Gingrich wrote. “After telling the nation in one sentence that troops had landed, he said: ‘And so in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer.’”
More recently, in his 2006 book Rediscovering God in America, Gingrich lauded FDR’s national leadership and spiritual guidance during World War II.
“Many consider Franklin Roosevelt to be the father of modern liberalism, so it may surprise you that he was a man of deep religious conviction who unapologetically linked the preservation of our nation during World War II with the preservation of religion,” the former House Speaker wrote.
Gingrich also commended FDR for passing the New Deal, a program many conservatives consider to be the foundation for modern liberal policy. (RELATED: Democrats’ attacks on Romney indicate they would prefer Gingrich as nominee)
“The New Deal, as it came to be know, was comprised of a series of social and employment programs, which although failing to end the Depression, provided at the very least a necessary morale boost to thousands of previously unemployed workers,” he wrote.
Roosevelt, elected in 1932 as the country wrestled with the continuing effects of the Great Depression, served three full terms before dying in the early months of his fourth term. Under his administration, the Department of Agriculture instituted the Food Stamp Program in 1939. The program lasted until 1943, before being resurrected by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
Yet in the same 1995 book in which he praised FDR, Gingrich called for “replacing the welfare state with an opportunity society,” a reform he called “the greatest moral imperative we face.” He laid out eight steps to do so:
- Shifting from caretaking to caring
- Volunteerism and spiritual renewal
- Reasserting the values of American civilization
- Emphasizing family and work
- Creating tax incentives for work, investment, and entrepreneurship
- Reestablishing savings and property ownership
- Learning as the focus of education
- Protection against violence and drugs
“When people tell me I am intense on this issue [of replacing the welfare state], I ask them to imagine that their children were the ones dying on the evening news and then tell me how intense they would be to save their own children’s lives,” he wrote. “That is how intense we should all be.”