NO! Newt…..You are NOT Reagan!
Jim Gschwind PHD
The Despondent Correspondent
I’m sure we are all well aware of the proposition that anyone who would seek a high elected office here in the United States have a bit of an ego problem bordering on narcism. We are lacking people of high moral character running for public office due to the intense degree of campaign smear tactics that tend to make good men and women shy away from such abuse. Those sturdy individuals that subject themselves to this type of abuse might border on masochistic tendencies but I admire them no less for their bravery at facing it.
We’ve all read expert opinions that many professionals feel that our current incumbent is highly narcistic with an oversized ego that enjoys the “perks” of office more than the “requirements” of actually working in the oval office, as evidenced by his comparably pristine desktop as opposed to involved, working presidents. We’ve also heard the “narcist-in-chief” claim to be heir to the progressive values of Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt which might be a bit closer to the truth than when he compared himself to Lincoln, when a comparison to Jimmy Carter would be closer to fact. Indeed almost every President has claimed to emulate at least one former President….it must come with the job so we have come to expect those comparisons calmly and without much notice. Nobody can claim any president didn’t possess a little more than average ego, or else they wouldn’t have had the nerve to run for the office. Today there is very little lack of confidence in any individual declaring themselves as candidates for the office of President.
There are some men and women that when you are in the room with them, you instinctively feel and know that you are in the presence of someone “special” and who possesses inner strength, confidence and the promise of greatness. I felt that on the rare occasions while working in Washington DC when I had the privilege of meeting or being in the same room with Ronald Reagan. There was just “something” special about him that people instinctively felt in that situation. I had the rare privilege of even working on his Inauguration Committee and the certificate of appreciation holds a special place to this day on my “love me” wall of plaques and certificates/degrees. Honestly, In the stadium of life in DC even as one of the Assistants to the Director Naval Intelligence, I was not on the 50 yard line and not in the “nose bleed” section of the game, but probably about the 10th or 15th row up near the beer concession….. I still had a vantage point where I knew very few people knew or talked about Newt Gingrich in the late 70s and early 80s. This can be seen by Ronald Reagan relegating him to only one mention in his book. Newt back then was in about the 3rd or 4th row of life in the “game”.
I know how some might feel about his serial womanizing and unfaithfulness but while I know and believe it to be a sin just as many other Christians do, I also understand that faithfulness, while important, isn’t the only thing that we judge the morality of others on. Most understand none of us are perfect and infidelity is definitely a weakness that is shared by many great men in our history, such as John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson just to name a few. The difference is they had other virtues that, when combined, gave observers a better total moral picture of the whole individual. So let’s not get bogged down by whether a candidate is fit due to fidelity issues as it is only one piece of the puzzle, or else we’d have a very poor opinion of those great individuals I mentioned above. It makes great copy suitable for the Globe or National Inquirer but doesn’t have much place in a persons’ total suitability to serve in public office.
That is why I’m a little upset that he would even utter a comparison between himself and Reagan. Sure, Michael Reagan is campaigning for him and yes he has been a conservative probably as long as I have (I volunteered a bit for Goldwater as a teenager). Yes, I know Nancy made the comment that she was proud that the responsibility of carrying on her husbands brand of conservatism in the 90s had been taken up by “Newt and the Congress”, but I believe she was emphasizing this with him as a member of a “team” (congress), NOT as an individual. For Newt to consider himself “heir” to the Reagan is really stretching the truth and to me as a devote Reagan conservative almost a sacrilege. I also believe mentioning Reagan 50 times in one speech is a little over the line. Repeating his name like a "mantra 50 times does NOT make it so.
While I appreciate the fact that Newt DID successfully reform welfare and balance the budget, he did it while part of a “team”, not individually. Contrary to negative ads he also was absolved of all his ethics charges later by the IRS and the $300,000 was not a fine but was a voluntary payment for the congressional investigation. But Newt, for God’s sake if you become the nominee……PLEASE, PLEASE stop dropping these verbal “bombs” and stop saying “whatever comes to your mind”, you’re killing us conservatives and we don’t want the “enemy” to paint us all with the same brush.
While I didn’t personally “know” Ronald Reagan, I met and respected him a number of times, enough to know who would remind me of this great man and who wouldn’t…..so, remember this Newt….YOU are definitely NOT Ronald Reagan.