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Ask Newt Gingrich

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So Newt is all of a sudden No. 1. Even though a few months ago, while he was off on a Mediterranean Cruise with his darling Callista, his staff summarily left him. But he is back, without much of a "ground game," although he does seem to have gathered some new (old?) staff around, because he has just recently opened offices in Iowa and New Hampshire. Thom Hartmann thinks that he is simply pulling a Herman Cain, that is running a book tour and trying to run up his speaking fees (what, Newt, $60,000.00 per isn't enough?), although not pulling a Cain in the sense of the latter, but not Newt, trying to keep virtually all of his previous female dalliances, or otherwise, secret.

But anyway, one measure of whether he is serious or not will be his willingness, unlike Romney so far, to offer himself up for real interviews, not those like the mutual-admiration-society-colloquies he has been having with Hannity and such for years (and yes, taking my Dramamine first, I have listened to a few of them). So here is a list of serious questions one might ask of the Newt man, especially considering his claims to qualifications for the nomination and the presidency based at least in part on his long experience in government and running election campaigns.

1. In 1995 you proposed executing "drug smugglers" (1). Do you still hold to that view?

2. In 1994, before the election returns were in, you referred to the President and Mrs. [Bill] Clinton as "counterculture (sic)." You said that you would seek to portray Clinton Democrats as the "enemy of normal people," and in a speech during the campaign you de­scribed America as a "battleground" be­tween men of God, like yourself, and the "secular anti-religious view of the left" (2).   You also blamed a tragic murder-suicide by a young mother in South Carolina on the "values" of the Democratic Party.   Do you still hold to those views?

3. In 1995, you said: "We are the only society in history that says that power comes from God to you . . . and if you don't tell the truth about the role of God and the cen­trality of God in America, you can't explain the rest of our civiliza­tion.   I look forward to the day when a belief in God is once more at the center of the defini­tion of being an American"(3). There are many other similar statements of yours on the record over the years (as above). Do you still hold to them? Where do you place the concept of "God" in relation to the Constitution? Do you agree with, for example, Rick Santorum, who regards God as standing above the Constitution when it comes to such matters as abortion rights (3a)? What do you say to the 30,000,000 or more secular citizens of the United States in this regard and to the tens of millions of US citizens of faith who do not believe that "God" stands above the Constitution?

4. In 1985 you addressed the issue of AIDS, which at that time appeared to be a disease that would affect only homosexuals. At one point you said: "AIDS is a real crisis. It is worth paying atten­tion to, to study. It's something one ought to be looking at. . . . [For] AIDS will do more to direct America back to the cost of violating traditional values, and to make America aware of the danger of certain behavior than anything we've seen. For us, it's a great rallying cry"(4). Do you still hold to that view?

5. Tom DeLay is one of the primary organizers and fund-raisers of the Tea Party. It is well-known that when you were in Congress you crossed swords with DeLay from the beginning, even though your politics were (and are) very much the same. DeLay tried to usurp your power when you were Speaker and then helped to ease you out, when your "little office problem" surfaced. How do you feel about Tea Party leader DeLay now? Would he have a place in a Gingrich Administration?

6. It is well-known that you converted to Catholicism in 2009. Many tenets of your new religion are at odds with those of the Protestant Evangelical Christian Right which provides much of the electoral and organizational base of the Republican Party. You don't seem to be talking much about your new religion on the campaign trail in the two predominately Protestant states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Where do you stand on the Catholic doctrine of Papal Infallibility? Where do stand on the fact that the version of the Bible in common use among Catholics is other than the supposedly "inerrant" King James version (notably created by a committee of 52 religious/scholar translators), used by the Rightist Evangelicals? Which one is right, or Right?

7. Last March, in discussing the possible imposition of (Islamic) Sharia Law in the United States that so many of your Republican colleagues seem to perceive as such a real threat to or polity, you said: "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren] are my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists" (5). Two questions here. The most essential element of "Sharia Law" is that religious law, as interpreted by ruling clerics, stands above any written Constitution. Openly or covertly using a doctrine known as "Dominionism," according to such authorities as Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Clarence Thomas, and Michelle Bachmann, this is the case, at least in certain circumstances, for the United States and our Constitution. So, leaving aside the differences in the content of the Sharia Law and Dominionist doctrines (not so great on actual examination) how are the two theories different on the process of government and the role of elected democratic organs? Perhaps more importantly, in terms of understanding how you think, one has to wonder how a nation living under Sharia Law doctrine of religious supremacy in civil matters would become a "secular atheist country."   Would you explain how that could happen?

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8. I have not read your counter-factual U.S. history which had the South winning the Civil War. The War was about the institution of slavery and its expansion into the Western Territories. Why would you write such a book? As a Georgian, still seething over Sherman's March, perhaps? In your book, did slavery survive as an institution? If yes, for how long, and how then was abolition finally achieved? If not, why not, since that is what the South was fighting for?

9. If you are elected President, which of your political opponents in Washington, whoever they might be at the time, would you banish to the back of Air Force One?

10. If Palestine and the Palestinians are artificial creations (although they were recognized as real, not artificial, by such international bodies as the League of Nations and the United Nations, and by previous Israeli governments that negotiated with them), what does that make of other Arab nations and their peoples, from Morocco and the Moroccans, through Egypt and the Egyptians to Saudi Arabia and the Saudis?

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References:

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1. New York Times, "Gingrich Suggests Tough Drug Measure," August 27, 1995.

2. Quindlen, A., "The Politics of Meanness," New York Times, Nov. 11, 1994.

3. This was a quotation from a Gingrich fund-raising letter, circulated by the American Humanist Association (Amherst, NY), Summer, 1995.

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http://thepoliticaljunkies.org/

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS, is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the School of Medicine, Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books on health policy, health and wellness, and sports and regular exercise. In (more...)
 

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