Gingrich defends subtitle of his book

“If it turns out, by the way, this is a secular-socialist machine, then using the words is simply clarity which may make some people uncomfortable, but — in fact — is factually defensible.” — Newt Gingrich, defending the subtitle of his new book “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the guest on today’s edition of “The Exchange” on Iowa Public Radio.  Gingrich will be in Iowa later this week, keynoting an American Future Fund event in Davenport on Wednesday afternoon and a Polk County GOP dinner in Des Moines Wednesday evening.  He’s to be in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, too, to headline a fundraise for the Republican Party of Iowa. Gingrich is among a handful of Republicans who’re considered potential candidates for the G.O.P.’s 2012 presidential nomination and, as always, a trip to Iowa is seen as a “sign” of some sort.

Iowa Public Radio host Ben Kieffer asked Gingrich about a passage in his new book that has gotten attention.  “Mr. Gingrich, you refer in your new book to President Obama’s secular-socialist machine representing as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did,” Kieffer asked at about 16 minutes into the show if you click on the link above to list. “You’ve received a good deal of criticism for that comparison, even from some in your own party. Don’t you think it’s even, as FOX News’ Chris Wallace put it, wildly over the top to equate the Obama Administration with Nazi Germany?”

“I didn’t equate them,” Gingrich said.  “What I said was that just as it was a decisive threat to the survival of liberty as we have known it, I think the victory of a secular-socialist machine fundamentally changes America in ways that will make it unrecognizable to most Americans and I think that that’s just technically correct.”

Kieffer said: “And that it’s as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany.”

Gingrich said: “I think that the danger we faced of losing America to foreign enemies and the danger we faced in the Civil War of losing America through disruption is very similar to the danger we face today. If you are an American who believes in the classic American system — if you believe that your rights come from your Creator, if you believe in the work ethic, if you believe that you ought to be allowed to keep the money that you earn then I think this system is a  direct threat to the very survival of the values that you believe in.”

Kieffer, the host, said: “But it’s interesting that you won’t repeat the phrase that you wrote, that it’s as big a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once was.”

“Well, I’m happy to repeat it,” Gingrich said. “I think whether you want to describe Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, you want to describe the disruption of the Civil War — I think that these were threats that would have ended America as we have known it.  And I believe that if you have a continued driving force that wants to fundamentally center power in Washington, give politicians and bureaucrats control over your life, drive God out of all public discussion I think the America you end up with is radically different than anything we have been in the last 400 years and it is in that sense a decisive threat to America’s future.”

There was a brief interlude about partisanship, then host Kieffer followed up by asking Gingrich — I’ll paraphrase and use my own words to shorten things up– whether he was just being a provocateur in order to sell books.

“What I’d ask you to do and what I’d ask our listeners to do is take a look at my book, To Save America; look at the phrase secular-socialist machine; watch what’s going on in Washington and then you decide,” Gingrich said. “…If it turns out, by the way, this is a secular-socialist machine then using the words is simply clarity which may make some people uncomfortable, but in fact is factually defensible.”

The last question was about the sort of signals Gingrich may look for that would prompt him to run for president in 2012?

“We’re not worrying about that.  Callista and I will discuss that in February and March of next year,” Gingrich said. “We are currently totally focused on trying to win the election this fall.”

Gingrich’s wife is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah and the interview concluded with a reference to that and a thank you from Kieffer, the show’s host.

Kieffer, at the beginning of the interview, Gingrich what he’d tell Iowa Republicans this week and Gingrich said the U.S. faces a “sobering” threat of unemployment.  “This administration has the worst unemployment record since the Great Depression and they don’t seem to even understand that creating jobs is their highest value and their most important activity.”

Host Kieffer:  “With unemployment as a lagging economic indicator, is it really only this administration’s doing?”

Gingrich:  “Well, look, I would say it differently.  I think that you have to look at the question with Greece beginning to collapse, with the scale of the problem we’re seeing all around the world in terms of the economies, I’m worried that we could have a second dip rather than a recovery.

“Now what you’ve seen so far as a recovery under Obama is a function of having borrowed and spent several trillion dollars and that’s the kind of artificial stimulant, like taking a drug to enhance your performance for a brief period of time, but in the long run that’s not permanent growth and that really worries me that we may be adopting a series of policies that actually make it less likely for us to be successful.”

The next question was about the upcoming June 8 GOP primary in Iowa.

“I think Iowa Republicans should focus on who can best solve the problems that we’re faced with…I can’t remember a time when we’ve had as many large, fundamental problems…Who can really help take the lead in making sure that we solve problems?”

Does Gingrich see any Iowa congressional seats in play?

“I think there’s a chance for a pick-up in Iowa…largely around Des Moines….I think that (Leonard) Boswell probably is at a point where it’s pretty hard for him to defend his record given everything that’s happened and he’s going to have to come home with a voting record of raising taxes and keeping power in Washington in a way that I think most Iowans will not be very comfortable with.”

Best tack for Republicans to beat Boswell?

“I don’t think you can beat Boswell as a person.  He’s a nice man and he’s very pleasant but I think you can say to people do you want to send a signal to keep raising taxes, centralizing power in Washington and undermining our economy or do you want a new approach that controls spending, gets power out of Washington and creates a much better environment for us to create jobs.  The burden that Boswell’s going to carry is that big government and high taxes and big bureaucracy are really not where the country’s future is…It’s not whether a person’s pleasant or not pleasant, it’s a question of where they would take America.”

What are Republican prospects for retaking control of the U.S. House?

“I think it’s at least 50/50.  When you get to September and October and we’re still looking at very, very high, historically unprecedented unemployment rates.  We’re looking at an enormous deficit that’s going to get worse. We’re looking at an ObamaCare legislation that every week there’s a new report that it’s more expensive…I think the burden the Democrats are going to carry this fall is of having just a significant record of failure.  They can’t control the border.  They can’t clean up the oil problem in The Gulf (of Mexico).  They’re unable to get the bureaucracies to work effectively.  I think all the money they’re pouring in I think, in the end, is just going to be lost.  It’s just like watching somebody with a credit card for the first time.  They’re spending trillions of dollars.”

Gingrich was asked to compare/contrast the election of 1994 to this year’s election.

“I think that there is some comparison, but I wouldn’t overstate it.  Republicans are probably slightly weaker than they were in ’94 but the Democrats are much weaker.  I think that the economy is much worse today.  I think the radicalism of the Obama Administration is much greater than the Clinton Administration.  Clinton in many ways tried to be a moderate liberal.  Obama clearly represents the Saul Alinsky kind of radicalism out of Chicago that makes him far and away the most radical president in American history.  All of those things create a backdrop for a very vivid choice this fall.”

Kieffer asked Gingrich a bit more about his book and the first question was a general one about the subtitle.   “They’re clearly socialists.  AIG — the largest insurance company — is now run by the government.  General Motors and Chrysler are now run by the government and in the process the government took money away from creditors and bond holders and gave it to the union allies, you know, in violation of all bankruptcy law proceedings.  They have nationalized the student loan program so it’s now being run by a government bureaucracy.  Something like 90 percent of all housing mortgages are now held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two giant government-sponsored enterprises that are actually more in debt than all the major banks combined,” Gingrich said.

“…The president goes around the country and announces he gets to decide how much you ought to be able to earn.  He’ll tell you if you’re earning too much which is very, very unlike the American tradition and they’re clearly secular.  I mean, look at the Democrat who ran for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts who said if you’re a Catholic, maybe you shouldn’t work in emergency rooms because your values are wrong.  Look at the judge who said that a national day of prayer was unconstitutional.  Look at the judge who Obama nominated who said that the Indiana Legislature should not be allowed to have a prayer at the beginning of their session or look at the decision just this last week by the National Park Service that they couldn’t put the cross back up in the Mohave Desert even though the Supreme Court had ruled it was O. K. because they’re using a technicality to avoid doing it.

“Every time you turn around, these are people who believe in bigger government, more redistribution of what you earn, more control by the politicians and who seek to drive God out of public life because it inhibits their ability to reshape the society.”

Next question:  Are non-Christians, atheists or agnostics in any way lesser Americans?

“No, but they don’t get to dictate to the rest of us what their values are,” Gingrich replied.  “…None of the founding fathers would have found saying a prayer at a high school graduation threatening…This is a fundamental distinction about the nature of America.  How do you explain a country whose primary political document, the Declaration of Independence, says, ‘We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.’  How are you going to describe that to kids if you’re not allowed to describe what creator means?”

The conversation then turned to the Q&A at the top of this blog post.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


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