I have refrained from saying anything about the Republican primary field because I am, in Obama’s words, waiting for them to throw people off the island.  After all it is only the winner of the Republican nomination with whom we should primarily (pun intended) concern ourselves. I have therefore not commented on the insane economic plans, moral hypocrisy, corruption, ignorance of foreign affairs, distortions of history, and plain recklessness and irresponsibility  (not to mention outright lies) the field has heretofore produced.

Candidate Newt Gingrich has however made comments about “the poor” which need to be addressed. He has advocated paid internships doing maintenance work at schools to teach poor youngsters responsibility, punctuality and to give them experience doing something and getting paid for it. This is not only ignorant about the lives the poor live but it is insulting as well. The millions of working poor where men and especially women work one, two or three jobs to support a family, the people who have lost their jobs due to the recession, and their children should say “Hey Newt (insert Cee Lo Green song refrain here.)” Newt’s conception of the poor is part of a conservative fantasy where  people who live on public aid  have a problem with even conceiving of holding a job or having a work ethic. If we decode “the poor” to mean people of color then we have the same justification for low wage slavery that we had in the 1800’s for actual slavery.  Read the defenses of slavery, oh I forgot, Newt is an historian so he may have done so already. We have the same “culture of poverty” arguments that we have had since the 1960’s. Newt acts as if the changes in the welfare system under Clinton and the Congress of which Newt was House speaker, don’t exist. The actual amount people receive on welfare, the time restrictions, the need to supplement it that Newt himself helped create, don’t exist in this Neverland that is in Newt’s head. He took his plan which is only in the hazy beginning formulations and consulted that expert on the poor, Donald Trump. This is farce becoming tragedy.

But what if we accept Newt’s argument that kids are not learning the proper work ethic even if the parents themselves are working hard?  Surely this is not confined to the poor.  How many middle class or even upper class kids have not properly consumed the work ethic Kool-aid. I don’t hear Newt calling for them to work as low wage interns for their schools.  Wouldn’t that create an uproar among those very parents whose votes Newt is courting. What about the charge that no one is teaching them how to hold down a job? Wouldn’t that be insulting?

The crux of his statement is not that he cares one bit about the welfare of poor youth.  If so wouldn’t we have been able to see it in the long time that Newt has been on the public stage? His real goal is getting votes by using his mock “concern for the poor” to perpetuate a racist, classist, outdated and imaginary vision of the poor among potential voters who share that vision.  This is politics at its most cynical and hypocritical.  So I too say “Hey Newt, (insert Cee Lo Green song refrain here.)”

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One Response to “Hey Newt, (insert Cee Lo Green song refrain here)”

  1. Chris Cosslett says:

    Thanks for this, Randy. While I wish the author of the piece I link to below would find a more appropriate way to describe Newt’s condition than ‘nuts’, I do think he has a strong argument about the man’s mental state. Not that this excuses his policy views; the combination of message and messenger is truly frightening.


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