Before you newly active Republicans commit to Newt Gingrich as your presidential nominee on the basis of the recent debates, here’s a bit of Newt history you ought to know. I promise you, it’s going to come up if he’s the candidate.
The day after the Republicans’ historic takeover of the House of Representatives in the 1994 election, Newt was off and running, giving a series of Fidel Castro-style speeches about “the Third Wave information revolution.” It had the unmistakable ring of lingo from his new-age gurus, Alvin and Heidi Toffler.
(Newt, who was married at the time, also began dating again.)
A few weeks later, when Newt was elected House speaker by the incoming Republican conference, there was a small elderly couple standing by his side as he gave a one-hour acceptance speech. It soon became clear who they were, when he issued a reading list to the Republican legislators. At the top of the list was a book by the Tofflers.
Hadn’t Republicans just won on a platform of smaller government? Instead of a Republican victory, the ’94 election seemed to be a victory for the Tofflers’ cyber-babble about “social wavefront analysis,” “anticipatory democracy,” “de-massification,” “materialismo,” “the Third Wave” and “decision loads.”
Then, in his first week as speaker, Gingrich was again promoting the Tofflers around town, introducing them at a technology conference and giving a speech titled “From Virtuality to Reality.”
How about a speech on Republican plans to reform entitlement programs?
Gingrich soon announced that all legislation passed by the new Congress would have to pass a test: Will it help move America into the Tofflers’ vision of a “Third Wave”?
If this guy ever became president, he could end up foisting EST on the nation.
It was also a Toffler-inspired idea that led Gingrich to propose giving poor families a tax credit to buy computers — an idea he called “dumb” just one week later.
(Newt’s denouncing Paul Ryan’s Social Security reform as “right-wing social engineering” and then apologizing a week later — and then retracting his apology — was not uncharacteristic.)
The Tofflers were a couple of old folks who couldn’t figure out how to program their VCRs, so they began writing about the “shock” of technology and how we needed government planning to deal with technological overload.
Their big idea was that the world was about to change faster than it ever had before, creating a technological explosion that would frighten and baffle the masses — much like the bewildering VCR clock. The government would have to have advisers and committees in order to ease the transition.
The facts are nearly the exact opposite. In the first half of the 20th century, we got widespread use of the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, electricity, radio and television, indoor plumbing, air conditioning and refrigeration, the computer, nuclear power and rockets.
All we got in the second half of the 20th century were some improvements on one of those inventions — the computer — with the personal computer, the Internet and the iPhone. (Boomers were more focused on acid trips than space trips and dropped the ball on the hard work of pushing scientific progress forward.)
Far from needing government agencies to help us “cope” with these advances — “Scientific Futurists,” a “Technology Ombudsman” and a “Council of Social Advisers,” as proposed by the Tofflers — the masses have taken to these improvements like fish to water.
The Tofflers’ recommendation that children be eased into the coming technological revolution with adult mentors sounds like the proposal of Clinton’s surgeon general, Joycelyn Elders, that schools teach teenagers to masturbate. In both subject areas, the children can teach their elders a few tricks.
Not only were they completely crazy, but Newt’s grand schemes didn’t quite fit the Republican model of a small, unintrusive federal government.
But Gingrich became a Toffler acolyte when he was an assistant history professor at West Georgia College and attended a Toffler seminar in Chicago. Alvin didn’t notice Gingrich at the time, but later remarked: “He kept reminding me of himself in letters.”
(Note that the maharishi of the information age and his No. 1 groupie kept in touch by writing each other letters.)
Soon, Gingrich was writing a foreword to a Toffler book — the same one on the Republicans’ reading list — and spending Christmas with the pro-choice, anti-school prayer, Christian Coalition-hating Tofflers. Yes, there’s nothing like having an old-fashioned Christmas with a doddering couple who hate prayer and Christians, love abortion and are afraid of their microwave.
(Incidentally, this was around the same time the purportedly pro-abortion Mitt Romney, as a Mormon elder, was pressuring a woman who wanted to abort her child to continue the pregnancy and give up the baby for adoption — something he was attacked for in Teddy Kennedy campaign ads a few years later.)
At the end of Gingrich’s first year as House speaker, his endless, nutty pronunciamentos — in addition to his plan to entrust Republicans’ legislative agenda to an old couple whose living room VCR continuously flashed “12:00” — had driven his public approval numbers into the dirt.
In a CNN-Time poll, 66 percent of respondents said Gingrich was “too extreme,” 52 percent said he was “out of touch” and 49 percent said he was “scary.”
It’s true that the liberal media attack Republicans unfairly. But that’s a fact to be dealt with, not ignored by nominating a candidate who keeps giving the media so much to work with.
Gingrich has spent his years since then having an affair, divorcing his second wife and making money by being the consummate Washington insider — trading on access, taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac and palling around with Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Al Sharpton.
Even Chuck Schumer wouldn’t be seen doing a joint event with Al Sharpton! But Newt seeks approval from strange places.
Newt Gingrich is the “anti-Establishment” candidate only if “the Establishment” is defined as “anyone who remembers what happened the day before yesterday.”
Ann Coulter is a political commentator and author.