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Gingrich Still Relishes His Role As Provocateur

Memo Pad

Gingrich Still Relishes His Role As Provocateur


WASHINGTON — Newt Gingrich has always had a way with words — provocative words, harsh words, incendiary words. He and GOP consultant Frank Luntz pioneered Republicans’ use of catchy phrases and misleading language not only to demean their rivals but also to redefine their rivals’ policies.

As speaker of the House, Gingrich famously fined his caucus members any time they failed to call the estate tax a “death tax.” He was so successful that he apparently persuaded many Americans that the estate tax, levied only on the richest Americans, was routinely assessed on the corpses of common folk.

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. greatnorthwoods December 13, 2011

    I disagree !! I see nothing wrong with getting kids to be self sufficient there are no more paper routs kids cant sell lemonaide with out a permitt. And getting kids started early no matter what the job is, is good and a great learning experience whether it be washing windows helping teachers after school working in the play ground cafateria doesnt matter I was raised in the 50’s and no body batted an eye when kids were trying to earn some money so sick of the crap people come up with newt was right getting futre kids off the computer and out of the house and learning how to make a few bucks is healthy my generation did it..

  2. freethinker December 13, 2011

    Sorry Cynthia, your attempt at redefining and denigrating the point Newt was making by creating host of straw men is part of the problem with our society. Newt was advocating ‘work ethic’ and most of us saw it that way. You cannot excel in life without it, whether it be in the classroom or the work place or life in general. And the time to learn it is as early as possible. It used to be rural and small town environments that fostered work ethic. Now, it must be translated to the urban environments to which Newt was alluding. For the most part, oriental and Indian communities still promote such an ethic which is why those children do better in school. Quit making excuses or demonizing the messenger. Stop thinking ‘can’t’ and concentrate on ‘how’. Clue: a government program is not ‘how’.

  3. Colleen Harper December 13, 2011

    Newt’s comment clearly implies that we should be training young black children to be our future janitors. Get them started early learning the skills of working every day, swinging a mop, pushing a broom.

    To me, this is the height of racism, and Newt knows EXACTLY what he is saying. He knows it is what his base in older white GOP members think.

  4. Loreto December 13, 2011

    I read the first comment by the person who was raised in the 50s and he support Mr. Gingrich. Well my friend, that was six decades ago and a century ago. So was I raised in the 50s but we need to catch up with the times and old Mr. Gingrich hasn’t and that is a fact based on his rhetoric. Newt thinks everyone is ignorant because he is a PH.D., I too am a historian and political scientist, and unlike the other Republicans who can’t debate, e.g. Perry, I would love to debate Gingrich and I’ll guarantee you, I would make him look like a high school drop out, as he sounds that way when he speaks. He does not impress me intellectually whatsoever. He’s another George Wallace in a newer suit.

  5. dantheman1111 December 13, 2011

    In a perfect world Newt may have had a good point – the problem is that people are greedy and would take advantage of these kids. This isn’t the 50’s anymore. This isnt even the 90’s. We live in a different world now. Thats why is was a bad statement. Thats why child labor laws were enacted. Now, if as a parent, you let your kid mow the neighbors lawn, get a paper route, volunteer, etc. there is not an issue there. I do see his point in very urban areas, because there is little or no opportunity in the inner city projects for things like that. Lets leave it to the parents, and blame the parents as well – but lets not let government get their little idealist hands and our tax dollars involved.

  6. jimackermann December 13, 2011

    Very well stated…..It appears that there are alot of people that want to re-elect someone by avoiding the real issues and twisting legitimate thinking into slander. If you want to slander someone, the current President can provide you with a wealth of material.

  7. blackkofi December 13, 2011

    Newt is and has always been a racist, asshole. To those who agree with Newt, maybe you should look at what your support for Newt and others of his ilk, has done to America…do this before your children become child janitors…the old anacronym for a P.hd(Piled.higher and deeper)…that is Newt…now and then!
    BTW…I think that there are more poor white children, here in America, than children of color!

  8. Surferbee44 December 13, 2011

    I was raised on the 50’s and newt is really oput of touch with his rhetoric.Boosting that he makes $60,000 per speach and most middle class just about make that in one year. Stick with your speaches and stay out of the race.

  9. Rette December 13, 2011

    The truth is that children in all of the middle class whatever color they may be are being challenged for their right to a satisfying life. Newt knows no more about being middle class than anything else. He is a master politician, masterful at creating disengunuous sound bites, who periodically self destructs like so many others. I do not believe he has an interest in uplifting the nation, but simply in uplifting his poll numbers. That is evident in his, and the other candidates actions too. If this keeps up before long we’ll all be janitors free to work in the basements of big crooked corporations. For the love of freedom, look at our trading partners and their child labor habits. Putting kids to work as janitors is not working for them, but our trading practices with them are destroying our ethic, our jobs…and the nation.

  10. DaleCuthbrtson December 13, 2011


    Have we learned nothing in the past 10 years?
    While the Democrats / Republicans , Argue over who is right – who should be in control ?


    The real enemy of Democracy has shown it’s Ugly head – WHO ?

    These are the old men on the hill who have lost site of what America is all about

    Who have no vision for America , or the American dream !

    They wear the Disguise of public servants – while only serving themselves , and it does not matter what party they belong to !

    Americans crave – REAL change

    But will never have it until we clean house, and

    WAKE UP AMERICA……………………..!


  11. Dianrib December 13, 2011

    Cutting lawns or shoveling show are fine for kids. Summer jobs too but Newts idea to fire union Janitors and let poor kids clean dirty toilets / bathrooms is demeaning and racist .

  12. pisces62 December 13, 2011

    it is amazing how this man can denigrate black children and someone comes up with a bogus scenario of the ’50’s. We were not allowed to hold jobs unless they were menial during that time. Could not live where we could afford. Could not go to any college. I graduated in 1967 and still could not go to over half the colleges in this country. He was speaking to the bigots with their hate filled agenda. Proof? The tea party wanted their candidates to sign a pledge that black children would be better off in 1860 instead of under this president. Tell me again it is not racist. Why isn’t anyone speaking of this. Mitt Romney belongs to a church which has taught from it’s inception that black people were meant to be the white man’s slaves, even after death. No racism? No double standard. I beg to differ.

  13. Eddie D December 13, 2011

    I worked for years in the food industry (Managerial) and a just about twenty years ago or maybe a little earlierThere was a change in the climate about who to hire..Poor white and poor black kids became unhirable because they could speak SPANISH..Schools began to teach spanish and if you didn’t grasp it you were failed..Schools that were white majority began make an extra effort whereas black majority schools did not, to enfocre a spnish speaking policy..Teachers without knowing what they were doing began not expect black children to not learn so they made no extra effort..Now you have either spanish speaking whites or hispanics (at a lower pay level) with the managegerial jobs…These policies came about by the Newt Gingriches that were the CEO’s at that time and they made no apologies to anyone even the school superintendants followed along in lock step. The elction of Barack Obama was engineered by young whites that knew they were not going to get those jobs without the second language..Newt wants go back instead of forward so he will be more comfortable with a black person doing his lawn instead of hispanics whom he really distrusts….

  14. atp2007 December 13, 2011

    Child: Mommy why is daddy looking so sad?

    Mom: Well honey he was laid off from his job at school today.

    Child: Gee, don’t they need school janitors anymore, Mommy?

    Mom: Well they do honey, but President Newt laid off daddy and hired little Bobby at half daddy’s salary so Bobby

  15. atp2007 December 13, 2011

    …can learn how capitalism works.

  16. Coal Miners Son December 13, 2011

    A few greedy people are using time tested techniques to divide us so we are easy to conquer. They don’t care about races or anything else. They only care about taking our country back to the time of only rich and poor. Don’t educate us because educated people are hard to control. Don’t feed us because hungry people are more compliant. Imprison us long terms for small meaningless crimes. Spend nothing for social betterment at home, instead spend everything to wage constant wars so they keep the poor in other country’s compliant as well.

    Keep all the wealth and then pass it on so the cycle continues. We must be awake and aware of the tactic. There are too many of us to defeat if we stop fighting each other and stay focused on who the problem is. Remember the politicians are nothing more than people trying to keep a job. They will go with the direction we send them . They will not lead, they will only follow our lead. Let’s let them know there is too much wealth at the top. We need to have a strong middle class again. Trickle down won’t work. The greedy have zero incentive to create a middle class. Middle class gives us access to education and the comforts of life. Then we are not the compliant serfs the greedy want us to be.

  17. kurt.lorentzen December 13, 2011

    When Gingrich speaks, it’s not always pretty. His oratory isn’t bundled up in bows or coated in sugar. So having kids grow up in the social atmosphere he describes isn’t a problem? Work ethic isn’t a learned trait? He just spoke of a situation in real, unmasked terms – something seen as almost a crime in our PC world. Cynthia is right that Newt is a far cry from Jesse Helms and that lot – their time thankfully has passed. Realism doesn’t equate to racism just because you refer to statistically proven problems that may be prevelant in black communities. The problem facing our nation is that the wealthy are permitted to control our representatives. But at the ballot box, they get one vote just like us. On the other side, we continue to let ourselves be manipulated into voting for the same old party candidates (Repubs AND Dems alike). Obama’s debt agenda can’t be sustained, if not for that you can’t find a lot of fault with the guy. Romney IS Wall Street and we can’t afford that agenda any more than Obama’s. Newt is a good guy, even if it doesn’t always sound like it when he’s picking on our own pet policy or program – and pulling no punches. Stop being such whimps and face the truth even when it’s not pretty. You’ll see why Newt keeps coming back from gaffes that would put a lesser politician out of the running in a heartbeat.

  18. dawnowens December 13, 2011

    Did it occur to this moron that the school janitors are supporting families and that all his plan accomplishes is putting a different family into the poverty zone by switching out the workers? I’m all for hiring children in every school to work in the library, tutoring, and after class in all sorts of assignments but not in janitorial work, that’s not appropriate. Where’s the money going to come from, since schools everywhere are cutting back on expenditures? Maybe we should put a tax on Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac ‘historical counseling’ of, oh, 1 million% or so?

    Surely someone as ‘frugal’ as Gingrich would love to finance this wonderful idea?

  19. pisces62 December 13, 2011

    As a black woman, 62, upper middle class, I say he is a bigot and is playing to that bigotted base. I do not have to agree with anything. People work in the black, poor areas. Some work 3 jobs. My parents, share croppers kids, bought their home within ten yrs after moving to Cleveland from Louisiana. They raised five daughters in the Hough area. All five graduated and went to college. Our children 6/7, withone still in school and an honors student, did, also. We all have degrees from in progress to masters. My parents worked and my dad started his own business. Most of the people when we were growing up were working people. The work ethic was there. He is an obtuse bald faced liar. Just as in white neighborhoods you have the slackers, so do we but it is not the whole neighborhood. Just about every problem in the black neighborhoods can be laid squarely at conservative white american’s feet. Through segregations, denial of school and job just for race, alone. The fact we continue to perpetuate this type of living is our own. No one elses but do not for one minute think to tell me it is not purely racial. You think we do not know the catch words, phrases. I know them all. I have heard them since I was a teen. Now, I have two grandchildren in Cleveland schools. My grandson, 9, is a math whiz, science whiz and read harry Potter at 5. He is now reading H. G. Wells. His 5 yr old sister, kdg, is in the 2nd/3rd grades gifted class. Loves Sherlock Holmes. Can read video game directions and master them. Both are Bookworm masters. I am coming from a place of empowerment and nothing you say will lead me to believe otherwise. The only reason you want this man out is because he is black. If Hitler had passed the Healthcare bill you would have thrown a party of grandiose size. Most of you are just too cowardly to admit it.

  20. pisces62 December 13, 2011

    No, I agree, he isn’t a Strom or any of the others. He is a george Wallace. He, according to blacks who knew him and other non blacks, was not a bigot. He just told his constituency what they wanted to hear to get elected and re-elected as governor of Alabama and run for president, once he could no longer do that. SSDD.

  21. jerrys December 13, 2011

    Wouldn’t it have been a better idea for Newt to get the fathers a job so they could give their children, black or white, an allowance.But maybe Newts is just trying to renew a Dickens story.

  22. sputnik December 14, 2011

    After reading some pretty good comments, I think this comment by Newt will probably tell us a lot about where this man would like to take America. This comment is an eerie bit of subtle preparation, chalked with age old racial stereotypes and scents of political ambition and total control. Remember, this is the guy who said “Spanish is the language of living in the ghetto”. This guy is one dangerous dude.

  23. jwozniak December 14, 2011

    Unfortunately for Newt, his odious anti-union, child labor message has been heard loud and clear in the cradle of coal mining, where people have long memories, and longer family histories of what daily life was like during the Great Depression, before the advent of labor unions, child labor laws, and any semblance of workplace safety regulation. My parents were child laborers in horrid conditions, which left them damaged physically and emotionally. That world still exists in parts of our neighbor to the South, West Virginia, which has fallen victim to a coal mono economy, where replacement labor is cheaper than keeping them safe in the work place. Remember Upper Big Branch? That kind of negligence is still going on, today.

  24. dcole December 14, 2011

    I agree with Jerrys that it would be better to insure the parents’ employment so they could give an allowance. Every kid, rich or poor, should clean toilets at some point in their lives. All our children had to clean kennels to help out their father’s veterinary practice–it was good character building. Now the youngest is finishing his degree in veterinary medicine and he will know the business from the “ground floor up”. A janitor’s job is important and should not be demeaned–and no one should put themselves above the tasks involved.

  25. dpaano December 14, 2011

    I get awfully tired of everyone saying that older white Americans are all for Newt (or the other clown Republicans running for office). I’m an older, white American female, and I have NO intention of voting for any Republican. I will be voting (again) for President Obama. And, I know a lot of friends my age will be doing the same. Not ALL older Americans are stupid…some of us know an idiot when we hear one or see one!!! Just because we’re senior citizens doesn’t mean we don’t ahve brains!

  26. duchess647 December 15, 2011

    dpaano I like your style! I would like more seniors especially the white ones to check in and give their own views rather than have others speak for you. Newt is an ass, by any other name he is still just another career politician and will say what he thinks the wealthy white racist wants him to say.It is no longer about color, it is about THE PEOPLE, all people. I see nothing wrong with children working, to teach them that they have to pay to play, but as far as cleaning toilets as their ONLY option, is straight from the history of racism. I am 65 and all my children worked by the time they were 13. It was their choice, they liked having their own money to do what they wanted to do with it. My kids did not clean bathrooms, they came from the same area this pair of pants( I can’t call him a man)is speaking of, the projects of Chicago. My children worked in stores, did tutoring and anything else to make a few dollars. They did not steal, rob or kill, yet according to this lame brain these places produce lazy kids? Not my children, and each went on to have a successful life. Two out of four children have their degrees as do I. It might not have worked for everyone but it worked for me and mine. 24 years in the projects of Chicago, taught my children how to work contrary to what this lame brain has said. My youngest son says this is why he works as hard as he does, so my grand kids won’t have to live in the projects.

  27. rustacus21 December 15, 2011

    … of Newt’s candidacy is bizarre indeed! But Y blame him? Some 1, after all, has gotten fairly excited about him, as a southerner (transplanted, no less), a bigot, an opportunist (in the personal, political & economic realms), a bender of truths & realities, all things which endear him to the legions of conservative voters who DEMAND an executive administration look xactly like what they see in the mirror, at their church & in their suburban, exclusive & distant neighborhoods. In other words, diversity. This was Reagan & the Bush’s appeal. No matter how “wrong” they kept getting it, it was fine, as long as “those people” stayed in “their” places. Conservatives are content destroying the country, just for that reason – denial of truth, denial of reality, denial of economic or personal improvement for themselves or any 1 else, just so “they” can’t have it either! THAT is the conservative way…

  28. FryarTuk December 17, 2011

    Cynthia Tucker has hit a bull’s eye on Newt Gingrich in this article. In the 1990’s newt published a list of terms for the far right to use against opponents. Google Gingrich’s memo on “Language: A Key Mechanism for Control.” Newt, a former regional director for Nelson Rockefeller’s failed campaign is a self-centered elitist who believes himself without equal or judge. With the help of a few others he turned politics into vitrol and invective. He knew exactly what he was saying in the reference to ghetto youth and janitorial work. Beware of him, he speaks with forked tongue and also sells snake oil. Remember the admonition “Clutch not serpents to thine breast.”

  29. Gerald M. Sutliff December 21, 2011

    Dear Ms. Tucker,
    Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and their ilk practice the politics of resentment. Actually there’s much to be resentful about; unfortunately these demagogues of the Right pick the wrong (easy) targets.
    BTW you’re one of my favorite op-ed writers. I well remember your piece about the Tiger Woods’ success in the only remaining “white man’s game”.


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