I know, I know, Newt is on the outs with the conservative movement ever since NY-23. And quite honestly, he deserves it. But in the category of “broken clocks are right twice a day,” Newt really hits the ball out of the park in this speech. He’s aging into RINOhood, but this is excellent. More on why, after you watch the video.
Toward the end of this speech, Newt reverts to his forte: History. Say what you will about his politics, his blind partisanship, and his weak committment to principles he once championed; the man knows his history. His chosen example was the march of George Washington and the Revolutionary Army to the feasting (and quite probably drunken) Hessian mercenaries at Trenton, New Jersey. Here is a transcript of the portion I am talking about:
GINGRICH: And on Christmas Day in 1776, Washington’s army had collapsed from 30,000 in Brooklyn in September, to 2,500. Less than one out of every thousand Americans had the courage to be with Washington on Christmas Day. Of that 2,500, one third did not have boots. They wrapped their feet in burlap, and they left a trail of blood marching the nine miles to Trenton. Washington decided to cross an icy river at night, in a snowstorm. To march at night, to surprise 800 professional German soldiers, win a surprise victory, capture all 800, and reestablish the legitimacy of the Revolution. Two weeks later, he had 15,000 volunteers. The password that night was, “Victory or Death.”
I want you to go from here, after this weekend, and look every successful person you know in the eye, and look every patriot in the eye, and tell them: There are young men and women risking their lives all around this planet; in uniform, in the State Department, in the intelligence community, so we can be free. Don’t tell me how much you’ve given. Don’t tell me how tired you are. Don’t tell me how frustrating it is. This country was created by people who were willing to say “Victory or Death,” while marching in burlap bags in the middle of a snowstorm. We’re going to have to find those people again. We’re going to have to run people for 513,000 offices, in both parties. We’re going to have to isolate and crush the secular socialist left, and we’re going to have to replace their failed system with systems that succeed. This is work George Washington would have approved of. And this is work you need to take seriously for the next three years, so that we can give our children and grandchildren the greatest, free-est, and most prosperous country in history.
I call particular attention to those bolded words, because I want to make a point that I think Newt left unsaid. Some of you are veterans, and have been where I am going. Some of you have never had the privilege of serving this country in uniform; or in the State Department; or other agencies of the federal government whose purpose is to keep America safe from foreign enemies. For example, Mitt Romney. He has led a life of privilege through inheritance, and through his own hard work — and I don’t begrudge him that, the guy has merely done what I would have done (become fabulously wealthy). There is nothing wrong with being rich — in fact, I wish more people WERE rich. You see, the rich pay more taxes, and our current crop of taskmasters have spent us to embarrassing lows.
But I digress.
I am joining the Air Force. Somewhere around 35,000 other people will join me as new Air Force recruits this year. I will go perform a job that only 2% of the world ever gets to do — and I gotta tell you, I’m seriously loving the thought of this job. I can’t even tell you how much fun this is gonna be. My job, in essence, is to be part of the greatest, strongest, smartest, best-educated, hardest-working airborne team on earth; whose purpose it is to intimidate or destroy the enemies of this country who would do us harm.
I do not, however, fight for freedom. That’s a fairly common misconception.
Pay very close attention to what I’m about to say, because if you get nothing else out of this diary, I want you to get this: The military absolutely does not keep you free. The military provides you the opportunity to be free, if you have the wits and fortitude to seize it.
You see, while I’m off in other countries fighting those foreign people who would do this country harm, I can do nothing to help save this country from the fascists who promise Utopia in exchange for your liberty. What I and my wingmates do is very simple: I engage one enemy (the external enemy) so that you have a fighting chance against the other enemy (the domestic enemy). I will put up with a single-payer health care system (Tricare, if you’ve never had the pleasure of dealing with this bureaucracy, consider yourself blessed and lucky), sleeping in federally-built housing (the AF is nice compared to the Marine barracks, but still…), a 24-7 on-call job that I am not allowed to quit, the joys of uniformed politics — in addition to the privilege of getting shot at with munitions considerably larger and more deadly than mere bullets. And in the meantime, I expect you — no, I demand this of you — to have the common decency to hold the line while I’m gone.
The military is above all else, a team. This team acts in small units, which report to larger units, and so on up the chain of command. So go form a team, a small group of dedicated activists in your subdivision, in your city, in your county, and get in the war. We don’t wear burlap on our feet anymore, but as long as you’re enjoying your Birkenstocks, wear them out for a good cause. So I leave you with a great speech on the subject from a Colonel Nathan P. Jessup, a fictional Marine who was far more squared away than Hollywood ever gave him credit for. As much as you want me on that wall, as much as you need me on that wall…I need you, organized and operating, to give me a nation to come home to.
Give me a nation worth defending, and I’ll defend it to the last breath in my body. But don’t complain if you haven’t given it everything you’ve got. Because on a cold New Jersey winter night in 1776, some eight hundred and twenty-five young men marched through the snow, hail, and wind to give you a chance — just the faintest chance — at securing your own freedom.