I wasn't able to watch the entire debate last night but I gather that while the candidate of the moment impressed many, as usual, with his mental agility and gift of gab, he also created some controversy with his stand on illegal immigration:
"I don't see how the party that says it's the party of the family is going to adopt an immigration policy which destroys families that have been here a quarter of a century," said Gingrich.
"And I'm prepared to take the heat for saying let's be humane in forcing the law without giving them citizenship, but by finding a way to create legality so they are not separated by their families."
How would this be determined? The answer might surprise you. Via Philip Klein:
“Newt is for a local, community review board where local citizens can decide whether or not their neighbors that have come here illegally should find a path to legality, not citizenship," he said. "Two distinctly different things.”What was it Andrew Ferguson said about Newt and practical details? Oh yeah --
He said it would operate like a World War II draft board. But I asked him whether it would be a problem for local communities to determine legality given that this issue would concern federal law.
“None of this matters until you secure the border," he said.
I asked him again, though, about how local communities could determine federal law.
“That’s why it’s called reform," he said.
When I told him it didn't answer the question, he looked to another reporter, and said, “What else do we have?”
The ultimate problem with Gingrich’s firehose approach to idea-generation wasn’t the ideological cast of the ideas but their practicality. To pluck a couple of trivial examples from the scores of proposals he offers in “To Renew America”: “We should work with every recovery program to develop low-cost detoxification programs.” Terrific, but who’s the “we,” and what would the “work” entail, and how would the cost be lowered? Before you can ask the question, Gingrich has rushed ahead. Because “we need to know more about the environment,” we should “develop a worldwide biological inventory.” Excellent idea, for all I know, but administered how? Paid for by whom? Gingrich’s vagueness was always a problem, but the books show something more: a near-total lack of interest in the political implementation of his grand ideas — a lack of interest, finally, in politics at its most mundane and consequential level. [emphasis added]If you're young and this go round is your first experience of Gingrich, please read this Mark Steyn column from 1998:
Shortly after he became Speaker, his staff circulated a five-page document of interconnected projects under the heading 'Newtworld'. Newtworld proved to be one of those theme-parks nobody wants to visit - and who can blame them? At Newtworld, what you mostly get is lots of Newt, at great length. A couple of years ago, I happened to be on a discussion panel presided over by Mrs Thatcher. In the moments before the debate began, rather than waste her time yakking with me, she cast an eye over an upcoming Newt speech that one of his aides had asked for her thoughts on. She took up her pen and scored through one line, then another. 'Even the best speeches can lose a line or two' I mumbled, nervously glancing at my own address. She scored through the rest of the paragraph, then down to the foot of the page, and over on to the next. When she'd eventually finished, she called over the lady from Newt's political action committee, and handed her the replacement text for the deleted portions: one short sentence. Poor Newt. He was never that disciplined. He was fond of movements and 'Movement Planning Proposals', but he couldn't resist moving from movement to movement. He's responsible for more movements than a crate of Ease-O-Lax: from 'The Triangle of American Progress' to the 'Caring Humanitarian Reform Movement' to 'The America That Can Be' to the 'Citizens' Opportunities Movement' to 'Renewing American Civilisation'.Read the rest cuz that ain't all.
If you're wondering what 'The Triangle of American Progress' is, relax: pretty soon it had evolved into 'The Four Pillars of American Civilisation', which in turn expanded into the 'Five Pillars of the 21st Century'. The collected brainstorms of Newt sound like a cross between T.E. Lawrence and the numerologically obsessed Fruit of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who claims that once a month he's taken up into a spacecraft floating above earth to commune with the spirits of deceased African-Americans. Aside from his 'Five Pillars', Newt had the 'Four Great Truths', the 'Nine Zones of Creativity', the 'Fourteen Steps to RAC' (see Renewing American Civilisation above), the Four Can'ts, the Five Cs, the Four Tops, the Jackson Five, the McGuire Sisters, and on and on.
That Newt is why I can't take today's Newt seriously. He's full-to-bursting of himself and his multi-point "solutions," which he cranks out at will and inflates with portentous language. (Try it at home. It's mostly in the adverbs. Instead of saying, "Gee, Aunt Martha, this new pumpkin pie tastes delicious," spice it up with a few of Newt's favorite modifiers and your simple compliment will take on a grand and weighty significance: "This dramatically reconfigured, deeply compelling pumpkin pie tastes extraordinarily delicious.")
George Will calls him the "classic rental politician." Husband calls him a "pitchman." I don't like him or trust him. (I mean Newt, not my husband.) I'm surprised so many people do. Guess I'll add that to the long list of Things I Don't Understand.
Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the Buzzworthy link.
Updated to add a link to Ace's post on same. He's got the Newt-speak down pretty well:
Newt would call this a "radical, transformative solution that shows a fundamental empowerment of the citizenry" or whatever. I call it daffy.I think he means it's deeply, remarkably, extraordinarily daffy.
Many thanks to Mark Steyn for the Corner link.
12/1/11: See follow-up to this historic post (who knew?), here.
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