January 25, 2012 | 5:12pm
Newt Gingrich's stump speech at Wings Plus in Coral Springs had a lot of meat to it -- he criticized President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, made fun of the media, and was heckled mercilessly for the first half of the event by a protester who was eventually booted from the parking lot. Let's just go down the issues approximately in order of importance.
1. He doesn't think anyone gives a crap about the nation's right to privacy.
Gingrich insisted that moderators aren't necessary in debates and that the stupid reporters who are
asking the questions are just being mean and "clever."
He cited as an example a question from a New Hampshire debate earlier this month in which the candidates were asked about the 1965 Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut, which overturned a Connecticut statute outlawing the sale of contraception. The decision included the now-famous "prenumbra" concept, which basically said that though privacy was not a specifically provided right in the Constitution, the effects of the other rights combine to make one. It's a ruling that's been in effect for decades, and the far right is just itching to overturn it so it can start outlawing women's rights.
"We recently had a debate in which 15 minutes was spent on a contraception issue involving a 1963 [sic] Supreme Court case." Gingrich said at the rally. "The number of people in America who were sitting on the edge of their seat, thinking, 'Oh, yes, Griswold v. Connecticut. Exactly what I'm worried about.' ... Now, give me a break."
Ha ha! Nobody cares about this silly idea that the government can't invade our privacy. The crowd laughed and laughed and had no idea what they were laughing at, because if they thought about it for more than a few seconds, they'd realize how hypocritical the whole thing was. All the Republican candidates have been traipsing around the country yelling about how the government needs to stay out of our lives, but as soon as reproductive rights come into play, suddenly the GOP/Jesus tag-team knows what's best for people. Deregulate energy companies, but make sure somebody's keeping an eye on all those uteri.
Roe v. Wade
is a popular ruling to disagree with, but Griswold
has been reaffirmed by the courts over and over again, and seeking to overturn it is a bold move to push the government's creepy, self-righteous influence right into people's bedrooms. Maybe Gingrich thinks it's silly, and maybe he supports the ruling (he's said he doesn't really mind contraception
), but he's way wrong on that it doesn't matter to the American people.
2. He wants to debate Obama pretty much all the time.
Gingrich has adopted a language of certainty regarding his position as the Republican nominee, at one point even making reference to "the next eight years," a line that drew amused chuckles from the audience. He also had several spoiler alerts for the Republican convention in Tampa in August:
"In my acceptance speech, I will challenge the president to seven three-hour debates, in the Lincoln-Douglas tradition of having a timekeeper but no moderator," he said. "And I will tell you in advance, because I don't want you to be disappointed, that I will accept the president using a TelePrompter. After all, if you had to defend Obamacare, wouldn't you want to have a TelePrompter?"
He also has a backup plan for when Obama, as any sane human probably would, declines to spend 21 hours pretending to say substantial things about policy. Gingrich said he would use the same tactics Abraham Lincoln did to induce Stephen Douglas to debate him: When Douglas declined to debate him, Lincoln followed Douglas from town to town
, rebutting all of his speeches and drawing huge crowds in the process.
"If, when we are at the convention, the president has not yet accepted the seven debates, I will announce in the acceptance speech that as of that evening, the White House will be my scheduler, and I will follow the president by four hours."
Newt's already got the sweet bus with his face on the side; who knows if he'll follow through with the threat, but it'd certainly be fun to watch.
3. Gingrich has a regressive tax plan for the superrich, and he's sticking to it.
Gingrich started his speech criticizing last night's State of the Union address, in particular the part in which Obama advocated once again for the so-called "Buffett Rule
," in which anyone making more than $1 million a year would pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent, including money made as capital gains from investments.
Gingrich called capital gains "the engine which drives job creation in the United States" and said punishing investors for the money they make would damage job creation, pension plans, and investment across the board. Gingrich wants to completely eliminate the capital gains tax
so superrich folks like Mitt Romney, whose income is derived almost exclusively from investments, would pay almost nothing. Don't worry, though -- under Gingrich's plan, everyone else will be paying a 15 percent rate
to make up the difference so all those beleaguered millionaires can keep collecting their tax-free income.
"[Raising the capital gains tax is] as big a job-killing proposal as any president has ever made," Gingrich said. "Now, I'm hoping the White House is going to clarify today that actually '30 percent' didn't mean 30 percent, because if it meant 30 percent, that'd be so stupid even they couldn't defend it."
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