Wednesday, in the least suspenseful press conference of the political season, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich announced that he is running for President. Gingrich’s announcement, which was greeted across the country with a loud yawn, points again to the need for a Voices of the Tea Party e-book that rates the 2012 Presidential contenders, as Jon Friesch and Conrad Larson have suggested in this space previously.
Lacking such a guide currently, I’ll offer my own view of Gingrich’s candidacy from a tea party perspective. Despite his best efforts to associate with the movement for well over two years, Gingrich is not a tea party guy. He deserves credit for volunteering early on to co-sponsor the April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Party through his group, American Solutions. But from a tea party perspective, it’s been all down hill since then for the former Speaker.
Who can forget his insistent and unapologetic endorsement of the famous RINO candidate, Dede Scozzafava, in New York’s 23rd Congressional District in the 2009 special election? Then, of course, there’s his continued support for ethanol subsidies, which even in Iowa does not ring true with tea party supporters who oppose giving tax subsidies to politically connected industries. And who can forget his unusual proclivity to join hands with such liberal icons as Nancy Pelosi and Al Sharpton in those dreadful “We Are the World” television commercials that promote the notions of man-caused global warming and advocate more Big Government in education?
Newt’s biggest problem with the Tea Party movement, however, is Newt Gingrich himself.
His natural style of speaking is the one-sided monologue, reflecting his training as a Phd. in History. The track record of the only president in American history to have a Phd.–Woodrow Wilson–was one of promoting Big Government and ignoring the Constitution. This does not recommend that particular professional background to those of us who support the limited government ethos.
Newt’s problem with us stylistically is that he wants everyone to know he’s the smartest guy in the room. When he appears before tea party groups, he simply doesn’t listen to views other than his own. He’ll temporarily stop talking while the other person speaks, but he doesn’t listen to what they’re saying. He’s merely tolerating their use of his time until he can demonstrate, when he reclaims the microphone, why the audience needs to hear his brilliant and unique “vision” for America.
I’ve seen Gingrich’s vision, and I’ve got some news for him. Many of us in the Tea Party movement are not all that interested in hearing it again, because it lacks consistency. We’ve heard enough lectures from Speaker Gingrich over the past decade. As for me, I can go well beyond November, 2012 without hearing another one. Others may have different views, but from this corner of the Tea Party movement, the message is loud and clear:
No thanks, Newt.
Michael Patrick Leahy is the editor of the Voices of the Tea Party e-book series, co-founder of Top Conservatives on Twitter and the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, and the author of an upcoming book on the ideological origins of the Tea Party movement. He can be reached on Twitter at @michaelpleahy .