Political Animal


November 29, 2011 3:40 PM What Gingrich doesn’t want us to talk about

By Steve Benen

Over the last three decades, wealth has become increasingly concentrated at the top. The middle class is struggling with stagnant wages and a growing class gap; poverty rates are soaring; the jobs crisis seems never-ending; and a growing number of Americans are suggesting it’s time for a larger conversation about economic inequalities and tax fairness.

Newt Gingrich believes that conversation must not occur. In fact, the Republican presidential candidate questions the patriotism of those who choose to draw attention to the problem.

“I repudiate, and I call on the President to repudiate, the concept of the 99 and the 1. It is un-American, it is divisive, it is historically false…. You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs.”

Even for a candidate who says truly ridiculous things on a daily basis, this is extraordinary.

Let me get this straight. A disgraced multi-millionaire, who’s run an ethically-sketchy “business conglomerate” while spending vast amounts of money on high-priced jewelry for this third wife, feels comfortable lecturing struggling Americans about even noticing the growing class gap.

And no one finds this disqualifying for national office?

When Republicans demand the middle- and lower-classes sacrifice, while shielding millionaires and billionaires from any concessions at all, the American mainstream isn’t even supposed to talk about it? When GOP policies impose a new Gilded Age on society, it’s “un-American” to even debate the propriety of the regressive agenda?

Since when is it consistent with the American tradition to try to shut down a debate over fairness and economic justice? For that matter, since when is it an “attack” on the extremely wealthy to ask them to pay Clinton/Gingrich-era tax rates that allowed the rich to thrive in the 1990s?

What’s more, let’s also not overlook Gingrich’s selective approach to unity. Today in South Carolina, Gingrich said it’s un-American and divisive to pit a majority against a minority. But as my friend Kyle Mantyla noted today, Gingrich said the opposite at the recent “One Nation Under God” event where he told religious right activists “that they are the majority in the country who must stand up and take this nation back from the ‘minority elite’ who are ruining it.”

So to recap, when it comes to the economy, Gingrich believes we’re all one people, and we must pay no attention to the wealth that divides us. When it comes to the culture war, we’re not one people, and those who believe as Gingrich does should target and defeat those Americans who disagree.

If a right-wing voice rails against the “minority elite,” he’s speaking the truth. If an Occupy activist rails against the “minority elite,” he’s an un-American radical.

Got it.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • T2 on November 29, 2011 3:49 PM:

    like all the other failed GOP 2012 candidates, Newt has been blabbing this type of blowhard baloney for months...but it was "just Newt" and nobody paid attention. Now he's the frontrunner and, as with Bachmann, Perry, and Cain, people are now listening to his gibberish. With Newt, it doesn't take much digging at all to come up with his serious contradictions.

  • slappy magoo on November 29, 2011 3:50 PM:

    Why, it's almost like Newt was running a vanity campaign to raise his profile for selling books and television/ corporate speaking gigs, only to realize he has a shot of winning this thing, and is now trying to handicap himself from actually getting the nomination, while at the same time saying and doing the type of things that won't jeopardize his original plan. Or, something...

    Somewhere Kurt Vonnegut is either laughing at us or weeping for us. Maybe both.

  • SecularAnimist on November 29, 2011 3:53 PM:

    Newt Gingrich is a bullshit artist, who spouts bullshit, to bamboozle gullible dupes with bullshit.

    Got it.

  • DAY on November 29, 2011 3:54 PM:

    Last week a Republican congressman yelled at a noted historian for daring to talk back. "Shut up!" he yelled.
    The One Percent does not brook "uppity-ness" of any kind from the 99.
    Indeed, they do not even LISTEN to the 99.

  • Josef K on November 29, 2011 3:55 PM:

    Even for a candidate who says truly ridiculous things on a daily basis, this is extraordinary.

    And to think this guy was once third in line of succession for the White House. I actually feel a bit ill just reading that quote, never mind imagining what he actually sounded like.

    Well, if Cain actually is pulling out, I guess we'll just have to be content with Newt self-destructing on the Convention floor. It won't have quite as much comedic value unfortunately.

  • Peter C on November 29, 2011 3:56 PM:

    The takeaway from this is that the "99%" meme is VERY EFFECTIVE and SCARES the Republicans A LOT! Push it until they get only 1% of the vote!

  • Jon on November 29, 2011 3:56 PM:

    White rich people are off limits.

    Guess who's writing that rule book?

  • Danp on November 29, 2011 3:58 PM:

    You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs

    There are many reasons no one opens up Mom&Pop stores and factories these days. Part is natural efficiencies, but part is a lack of restrictions to prevent the giants from monopolizing many industries. It would be far easier to invent a better operating system than getting anyone to choose it over Windows. Want to open a gas station? How many options do you have for buying gas? Wholesaler? If you can't get Costco, Sams, Target or Walmart to buy, or you can't make a profit with their policies, forget it. You're pretty much reduced to kitsch and personalized stuff.

  • Trollop on November 29, 2011 3:58 PM:

    "It is historically false, like Bastille Day!"

    "..and my Tiffanys bill.."

  • Quaker in a Basement on November 29, 2011 4:11 PM:

    If a right-wing voice rails against the “minority elite,” he’s speaking the truth.

    Well, there's the minority elite, and then there's the minority elite, if you catch my drift.

  • martin on November 29, 2011 4:11 PM:

    since when is it an “attack” on the extremely wealthy to ask them to pay Clinton/Gingrich-era tax rates that allowed the rich to thrive in the 1990s?

    Since the Clinton/Gingrich era. I remember the nattering nabobs of the right being incensed at the "confiscatory" rates Clinton was imposing on the hard earning rich.

    It is ALWAYS too much for them. The ratchet turns one way in reference to the taxes on the rich. The goal is zero. Taxes are for the little people.

  • Tom Nicholson on November 29, 2011 4:14 PM:

    Newt is the perfect guy to run this country. He has the backing of the 1% and could care less about the 99%.

    Since we have a; government for the rich and nothing but the rich, so help us god, Newt is just the dude we need to swagger forward into a queasy future.

    It's clear that politics in DC is not worth our voting efforts.

    Newt and Obama will go head to head, while the MSM forgets Newt's past and allows him to resurge in the polls.

    Remember, the reason the GOP hate Obama is because he's a socialistic non-white.

  • Robert on November 29, 2011 4:22 PM:

    Hey Newt, you are 'unamerican' baby. You are a royalist wanna be pseudo intellectual punk. We are trying to save America from people like you. Just do us a favor and leave. NOW.

  • kevo on November 29, 2011 4:28 PM:

    Let's send the message back to Herr Gingrich that the one percent hasn't been creating many jobs as of late, and it is the government and public service that have offered viable jobs for a majority of Americans, producing a healthy Middle Class.

    Hey Newtie - the one percent are chumps, and the 99% are a mix of all walks of life! Thanks for clarifying for us that you are indeed a chump!

    Corpulent carper of catastrophe continues to caress crass conceptual crap all under the guise of careful cranial consideration when communicating his latest canard!

    Gingrich is a foolish clown, and if elected, will no doubt be a great president for those who wish to continue to linger at the circus! -Kevo

  • nodak on November 29, 2011 4:35 PM:

    …. You are not going to get job creation when you engage in class warfare because you have to attack the very people you hope will create jobs.”

    When oh when is this country going to wake up and realize that these rich 1%'s DO NOT create the jobs, at least not very many. If they did, considering how much they have gained in wealth the last few years, we should have millions of job openings instead of millions of unemployed. Instead they sit on their wealth and like Scrooge scream "If they would rather die then go to the poor house let them hurry up anddie and decrease the surplus. population"

  • andyvillager on November 29, 2011 4:37 PM:

    I call on Newt Gingrich to shut the hell up, as much as I would love for him to win the nomination...

  • Stephen Stralka on November 29, 2011 4:44 PM:

    Yeah, whatever. Dog bites man. The sun comes up in the east. And Newt Gingrich spouts bullshit.

  • Bob on November 29, 2011 4:44 PM:


    OK. So...let me get this straight. Class warfare is UN-American but culture warfare is American?

  • Perspecticus on November 29, 2011 4:59 PM:

    "And no one finds this disqualifying for national office?"

    To be fair, we are talking- in 2011- about Newt Gingrich, Lead Candidate for the GOP Presidential Nomination. I'm no longer sure there are any disqualifications for national office. Unless you're a Democrat or have said something to earn the dreaded RINO designation, that is.

  • g on November 29, 2011 5:02 PM:

    "It's historically false" - What the heck is that supposed to mean?

    The numbers are undisputable. The income disparity issue is a FACT and it's about NOW. So what is he throwing the modifier "historically" into it?

    the concept of the 99% and the 1 % is about NOW, not about an era in the past. although income disparity in the historical past is also true, and also FACTUAL.

    Is he simply trying to remind us that he is a supposed "historian" - is this going to be his new verbal tic?

    I am also fascinated that he has the sheer arrogance to call upon the President to repudiate an idea that so many of the public agrees with - and one that Obama has already voiced support for.

  • Al B Tross on November 29, 2011 5:11 PM:

    Hypocrisy and contradiction are benchmark behaviors of the Authoritarian Personality.



  • Texas Aggie on November 29, 2011 5:14 PM:

    "Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots": -H.L. Mencken

    Mencken, Bierce and Twain are three of the most astute people I've ever read.

  • g on November 29, 2011 5:16 PM:

    another Gingrich nugget of wisdom from the same speech in Charleston:

    "I’m just saying that under the normal rules internationally [waterboarding]’s not torture.

  • Anonymous on November 29, 2011 5:29 PM:

    "And no one finds this disqualifying for national office?"

    It dis qualifies him from humanity.

  • Marc Valdez on November 29, 2011 5:44 PM:

    There are two categories of people in the world: people who put things in two categories, and people who don't.

    And there's Newt, of course.

  • stinger on November 29, 2011 7:18 PM:

    Small businesses are the true "job creators" in our economy, having created 2/3 of the net new jobs since 1994. But very few small business owners fall into the 1%. Policies that further enrich the 1% do little to create new jobs.

  • CATMAN on November 29, 2011 8:15 PM:

    Since Newt netted about $2.5 mill from his grifter empire last year, that puts him in the 0.1%-nice work if you can get it. Oh, by the way, if I were to start a "Shoot Newt" campaign, do you think I could get a free pass from Sarah Palin if I say I just joking? One can only hope that this bloviating windbag will self destruct soon and spare us much pain

  • PTate in MN on November 29, 2011 8:19 PM:

    Yeah, just want to support Kevo and stinger's observation that for all their wealth, the 1% haven't created many jobs. One needs to conclude that claim is just another failed Republican notion. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

    Go 99%!

  • Sammy on November 29, 2011 8:46 PM:

    I keep hearing that independent voters are leaning towards Newt.

    Please tell me that these people are not that stupid.

  • navamske on November 29, 2011 8:46 PM:

    "It is un-American, it is divisive, it is historically false . . ."

    Wow. Newt Gingrich accusing others of being divisive. This, truly, is the definition of chutzpah. (Yeah, I know: choots puh.) Not to get all Godwin's Law about it, but this is akin to Adolf Hitler accusing someone else of being a mass murderer.

  • John in TX on November 29, 2011 8:56 PM:

    The fact that this disgraced, sleazy grifter and world-class buffoon is even in a campaign for president, let alone being taken seriously by a truly disturbing number of low information voters and gasbag Villagers is what's truly extraordinary here. Like Pig-Pen on "Peanuts," wherever Gingrich goes a rank, musty cloud of scandal, corruption and hypocrisy swirls around him. (This is true of practically every Congressman and Senator up there but Gingrich's cloud is bigger than most.)

  • g on November 29, 2011 9:48 PM:

    Gingrich has really delivered a rich store of nutty goodness this week. Between this, endorsing waterboarding, and praising Singapore-style justice, he's on a wingnutty authoritarian roll!

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  • MuddyLee on November 30, 2011 11:37 AM:

    Does Newt get a federal pension check because he's a former Congressman? Does he ever try to take credit for helping Clinton balance the federal budget in the 90s? He thought he was a smart guy then didn't he? Wonder why he doesn't talk more about how they balanced the budget with a mix of spending cuts and increased taxes?

  • clarence swinney on November 30, 2011 12:51 PM:

    send this to Newto revolution ahead
    10% own 70% Net Wealth--80% own 15%
    10% own 70% Financial Wealth-80% own 7%
    10% get 6% Individual income-50% get 13%
    (10-70) (80-15)
    (10-70) (80-7)
    (10-46) (50-13)

    140,00,000 Income Tax Returns

    (10%)=(14,000,000) 14
    (80%)=(126,000.000) 126
    (50%=70,000,000) 70

    Simplified analysis (14 to 126)
    (Net Wealth))
    14 get $70=$5 each-
    126 get $15=12 cents each

    (Financial Wealth)
    14 get $70=$5 each
    126 get $7= 6 cents each

    (Individual Income)
    14 get $46=$3.30 each
    70 get $13= $18 cents each
    $5 to 12 cents—500 to 12= (50 to 1)
    $5 to 6 cents----500 to 6===(83 to 1)
    $3.30 to18 cents -330 to18=(18 to 1)
    Is that a third world country?
    clarence swinneyolduglymeanhonestpoliticalhistorian lifeaholicsofamerica

  • Grover Syck on November 30, 2011 8:17 PM:

    As always, the 'lizard man' is way off base. The 99 to 1 is exactly what the problem is. As I always say, the republicans are only interested in helping their RICH contributors.

    The 99% can go to hell.

    The democrats must keep the divide front and center.