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The very dramatic word choices of Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich gesturing during Thursday night's debate in Charleston, S.C.
REUTERS/Jason Reed
Newt Gingrich gesturing during Thursday night's debate in Charleston, S.C.

The frankly astounding, very aggressive, mildly amazing truly frightening, fundamentally radical, very dramatic word choices of Newt Gingrich.

Every phrase of the run-on first sentence on this post was spoken by Newt Gingrich in the debate last night. The guy does not hide his dramatically bright, 21st century, transformational light under a largely small truly humble bushel. I’ve long noticed his word choices, especially the adjectives and adverbs (and even more especially the adverb-adjective combos) but also the verbs and the way his voice changes when he punches out the key words.

Last night’s 87th debate didn’t produce much in the way of facts or ideas that haven’t been fully aired (other than the big opening distraction of the ex-wife “open marriage” matter, if you can all any of that a fact or an idea). So, just to illustrate the Gingrich lexicon matter, the following are all excerpts from Gringrichian answers from last night’s transcript, with bold-face emphasizing the key word choices:

Berating CNN’s John King for opening the debate with the ex-wife matter:

“I think — I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that…To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine…I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate. Let me be quite clear. The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested, because they would like to attack any Republican. They're attacking the governor, they're attacking me. I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

Asked for three specific ideas for job creation:

“There's one easy thing to do at a national level, and that's repeal the Dodd-Frank bill, which is killing small business, killing small banks. That would help overnight

“The third thing you could do, frankly, is fundamentally, radically overhaul the Corps of Engineers.

On what Mitt Romney did wrong at Bain Capital:

“I think there are specific cases … specific cases where Bain Capital's model — which was to take over a company and dramatically leverage it, leave it with a great deal of debt — made it less likely to survive.”

On what the government did right to help veterans and stimulate the economy after World War II:

“The U.S. government did two dramatic things after World War II. They created a GI Bill which enabled literally millions of returning veterans to go to college for the very first time… So there was an enormous expansion of opportunity that enabled them to integrate into a new, emerging society. The second thing they did is, they dramatically cut taxes, and the economy took off and grew dramatically, and it absorbed the workforce.

“So I would say we ought to both have a transition process for veterans to enable them to have a real advantage in getting a job when they come home, and we ought to have a very aggressive economic program of regulatory cuts and tax cuts in American energy, so that the entire population is absorbed by getting back to about 4 percent unemployment, in which case virtually every veteran would have a very good job at the end of the transition period.”

On whether the next president can really get Congress to repeal the big health care bill:

“Well, let me say, first of all, if you've watched Washington and you're not skeptical, you haven't learned anything. I mean, this — this system is a total mess right now.

“Second, can you get it repealed in total? Sure. You have to elect a House, a Senate and a president committed to that. It has to be a major part of the fall campaign. And I think that, frankly, on our side with any of us, it's going to be a major part of the fall campaign. The American people are frightened of bureaucratic centralized medicine, they deeply distrust Washington, and the pressure will be to repeal it.

“And a lot of what Governor Romney has said I think is actually pretty good, sound stuff for part of the replacement. I would always repeal all of it, because I so deeply distrust the congressional staffs that I would not want them to be able to pick and choose which things they kept.”

Responding to a charge by Rick Santorum that he, Gingrich, long supported individual health insurance mandates (I particularly like the literary tension in the phrase “mildly amazing”):

“No, what he — what he said, which I found mildly amazing, was that he thought I would have a hard time debating Barack Obama over health care. Now, in fact, I — as Republican whip, I led the charge against ‘Hillarycare’ in the House. As speaker of the House, I helped preside over the conference which wrote into law his idea on health savings accounts. So I was delighted to help him get it to be law. And — and the fact is, I helped found the Center for Health Transformation. I wrote a book called ‘Saving lives and Saving Money’ in 2002. You can go to, and you will see hundreds of ideas — none of which resemble Barack Obama's programs.”

Responding to another statement from Santorum that “Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He — he handles it very, very well,” and that if the Repubs nominate Gingrich they will have to constantly worry about what he might say next:

“Well, it's a very simple question: How big a scale of change do we want in Washington? I started working with Governor Reagan in 1974. I helped, with Jack Kemp and others, the development of supply-side economics in the late '70s. I participated in the '80s in an enormous project of economic growth, and with President Reagan's leadership, the American people created 16 million jobs. With President Reagan's leadership, the Soviet Union disappeared.

“I came back -- I spent 16 years on a grandiose project called creating a Republican majority in the House. Sixteen years. And most of the Republican leaders in the House thought it was a joke.

“And we created the first majority. We then worked for two solid years, reformed welfare; two out of three people went back to work or went to school. We got -- ultimately became the first reelected Republican majority since 1928. We then went on to cut taxes for the first time in 16 years, the largest capital gains tax cut in American history. In the four years I was speaker, the American people created 11 million new jobs. We balanced the budget for four consecutive years, the only time in your lifetime.

“You're right: I think grandiose thoughts. This is a grandiose country of big people doing big things, and we need leadership prepared to take on big projects

“You know, campaigns are interesting experiences for all of us, and each of us writes a selective history that fits our interests. As a freshman in 1979, I moved to expel a member who was a convicted felon for the first time since 1917 against the wishes of our leadership. In the page scandal in the 1980s, I moved and threatened to expel them unless they were punished much more severely against the wishes of the leadership. In the late 1980s, I initiated charges against the speaker of the House, Jim Wright, at rather considerable risk for a back-bench member. In 1990, I opposed the president of the United States of my own party when he tried to raise taxes. I said I actually thought he meant "read my lips," and I led the fight against raising taxes against the wishes of my party's leadership.

“I think long before Rick came to Congress I was busy being a rebel, creating the Conservative Opportunity Society, developing a plan to win a majority in the Congress. And if you talk to anybody who worked at the Congressional Campaign Committee from — from December of 1978 on, for 16 years, I worked to help create the Republican Party nationally to become a majority. I worked to create GOPAC to train the majority. Those are just historic facts, even if they're inconvenient for Rick's campaign.”

On what he would do different if he could start the campaign over:

“I would skip the opening three months, where I hired regular consultants and tried to figure out how to be a normal candidate, and I would just to straight at being a big-ideas, big- solutions, Internet-based campaign from day one, because it just didn't work. I mean, it's not who I am. I'm not capable of being a sort of traditional candidate. I'm a very idea-oriented candidate. And I think the Internet makes it possible to create a momentum of ideas that's very, very exciting.”

The final answer of the evening on why South Carolinians should vote for him:

“We have a real challenge. It is imperative that we defeat Barack Obama. This is, I believe, the most dangerous president of our lifetime, and if he is reelected, after the disaster he has been, the level of radicalism of his second term will be truly frightening.

“But in addition to beating Obama, we have to have a team victory in the Senate and the House, and we have to have a principled victory, so the American people will send a signal that in January they want very dramatic, very deep change in Washington. [Applause.]

“I believe the only way to create the momentum is to be able to overcome his billion-dollar campaign with a series of debates which decisively convince the American people that a Saul Alinsky radical who is incompetent cannot be reelected. And I hope you will vote for me on Saturday as the person who could do that.”

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Comments (31)

Wow. Given his frankly astounding, very aggressive, mildly amazing truly frightening, fundamentally radical, very dramatic rewrite of history here, he is one scary dude.

Newt's diatribe was well-scripted.

When I think of Gingrich, I don't think of ideas as much as his anger and meanness. There's no doubt about it - he thrives on negativity and that has a big appeal to Republican voters nurtured on a diet of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. I don't think Gingrich will wear well on most voters if he does get the GOP nomination.

Can you spell d-e-m-a-g-o-g-u-e?

As soon as Mr. Gingrich leads the charge to remove Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Fox News from the airwaves, he’ll have some credibility on this issue. He’ll be wrong – the First Amendment obviously allows, even encourages, “destructive, vicious, negative” in terms of news media. Note that amid all this verbiage, dramatic as it is, what it boils down to is “he said, she said” between an ex-wife and an ex-husband. I believe it’s factually accurate to say that Mr. Gingrich is a serial adulterer.

I’ve seen no evidence that Dodd-Frank has a significant impact on small business. Banks don’t like regulation, but that’s part of their DNA, and we’re only now beginning to – very slowly and awkwardly – recover from the effects of removing the restrictions of Glass-Steagall, which protected the public from financial meltdown for a couple of generations. Unless Mr. Gingrich intends to replace Dodd-Frank with an updated, but just as strict, Glass-Steagall, this is pure horsefeathers.

He’s accurate about Bain Capital’s model.

He’s only partly accurate about the post-World War II scenario. Correct about the G.I. Bill and its effects. Not so much about the tax cuts, which came about because we were no longer involved in a World War. Nothing in his tax cuts proposal in the next paragraph is necessarily going to produce job one for a returning veteran, unless he wants to work in an oil field. Some might, but it’s not a universal model for “…a very good job.”

Next, he’s partly correct and partly not. Regardless of political persuasion, and we have ample support for this assertion in the comments on this site, day in and day out, many people distrust Washington. I wouldn’t argue with that. The argument would start with asking “Why?” and go on from there. As for health care, if – and it’s a genuine “if” – the public is, indeed, frightened of bureaucratic, centralized medicine, you’d never find out from those who qualify for Medicare. Mr. Gingrich knows not whereof he speaks on that part. If Congressional staff is not trustworthy to choose what gets covered and what doesn’t, why would, or should, we trust equally-anonymous employees of a private health care insurance company whose goal is profit, not health care?

I don’t remember the specifics, but Mr. Gingrich may be correct about “leading the charge” against the earlier version of national health care brought into focus by Mrs. Clinton. That’s not necessarily something of which to be proud.

Interesting in the next paragraph that Gingrich would point proudly to his association with supply-side economics, demonstrably a total failure. Not surprising that he’d fail to mention that Reagan raised taxes more than once.

As for the rest, Mr. Gingrich, who purports to be a historian, does a very nice job of “selective history” himself.

Interesting that he labels Mr. Obama as “the most dangerous president of our lifetime” when Obama has largely been stalled by right wing demagogues in Congress whose vocabularies may not match that of Mr. Gingrich, but who are bankrupt, morally and intellectually.

I love Newt Gingrich. He's terrific. He laughs easily, he tells the truth, and he doesn't suffer fools gladly.

And so for those reasons, the liberals despise him.

Those who would "protect Barack Obama [I assume he means"protect politically"]" are the ones praying the hardest that Gingrich gets the nomination. He is a loose cannon, and unelectable.

Newt Gingrich has characteristics that would make him a truly dangerous president: he has a messianic belief in his destiny; he fights like a cornered rat; he takes umbrage easily; and, he believes that the rules of ordinary mortals do not apply to him.

Other than that, he would have made an entertaining college prof.

@#7 - you forgot to mention that, the day after Palin endorsed him, he promised to appoint Palin to a prominent position in his administration.

Secretary of State Palin, anyone?

Good God.

Given the total chaos going on in the world, the current secretary of state could be replaced with anyone and it would be an improvement.

Dennis #5:

Bill Maher, to pick one example, laughs easily, tells the truth, and doesn't suffer fools gladly, yet liberals don't despise him. There must be another reason for liberal disdain of Gingrich.

His hypocrisy and his inability to separate private gain from public good are reasons I dislike him, but I do enjoy his sense of humor.

@#9 - what do you think a Sec. of State does? Wave her hand and sprinkle some pixie dust and the world magically becomes calm? It was no small job to repair the damage done to U.S. standing internationally by the Bush administration, yet Sec. Clinton has performed admirably.

You guys really need to ground your criticisms in reality if you want to be taken seriously. How many times have we heard Romney lately say "government doesn't create jobs, only the private sector does." Then he'll turn right around and bash Obama for not creating enough jobs. Non-sequitur. Do you think we don't notice?

The man is a walking thesaurus.
And like a thesaurus he doesn't contain any actual solutions to real problems (other than getting himself elected).

@#9: Given the usually high level of discourse on this particular news outlet, I'm kinda bummed we can't get semi-reasonable conservatives to pitch in. The ones who do are the most outrageous kind of partisan hacks. I'm about as liberal as they come but I still give credit where credit is due*. To the Dennis Testers of the world, everything any liberal does ever is wrong. It's black and white to the point of childish hilarity. While the secretary of state has little control over the "chaos of the world", Mrs. Clinton has been more or less universally praised for her efforts by experts on foreign policy.

* And on that note, I praise Michelle Bachmann for her vote on the SOPA/PIPA bill. A stopped clock is, indeed, right twice a day.

I find it interesting but not so shocking that Republicans can get away with the "incompetent" label on Obama.

I don't recall any other president who was ever described that way by a public figure (private citizens, sure). There's a modicum of respect expected.

I wonder if could be their objection to Obama's policies, particularly his policy of being black. It does feed into the racial bias that still exists in this country.

After we invaded Iraq, I was told many times by conservative Republicans of my acquaintance that any criticism of an American president during time of war was tantamount to treason and not to be tolerated.

Now that a Democrat is wearing the title of "War President", it's funny how I just don't seem to hear that particular sentiment expressed any more. "War President" or not, they don't seem to let it stop them from lopping all manner of disrespectful comments his way.

"Bill Maher, to pick one example, laughs easily, tells the truth, and doesn't suffer fools gladly"

Amen, brother......the question is, "Is he laughing with you, or at you?"

"Bill Maher Admits His Audience Are 'Brainwashed Liberals'"

Jeff, I'm your Huckleberry...

I can't find much to complain about regarding Hillary's performance as SOS. Add to that the fact that the job keeps her out of the country's domestic hair, and I'd have to say putting her in that role was at least one competent act Obama can claim.

See? I'm a helper; I help.

Nobody has remarked on how agile Mr. Gingrich is in his mental gymnastics to convert and pervert truth or reality to suit his needs.

The earmarks of a great megalomaniac are evident in the bit about "...makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office."

Notice he wants to govern, not serve; and he is, of-course, unquestionably decent. Yes, Brutus was also an honorable man!

Newt's new platform: anti-Obama and anti-ex-wives.

"I'm Newt Gingrich and I have damn near as many wives as Mitt Romney has kids."

You also have to remember Alimony is tax deductible

Yea, Dennis- some men enjoy Mr Gingrich, he isn't getting the support of many women though.....I wonder why that might be?

What would be the internal dialogue of those who support the newt? What is going on inside the minds of people who cheer newt's attacking the press for bringing up the undeniable conflict between his understanding of the arrangement of love relationships and their public posture on marriage? What does all this confusion indicate? We we are searching for clarity are we getting from this reality?

A challenge for you readers/writers. Does gingrich ever use oxymorons like jumbo shrimp?

This from the guy who tried to impeach a sitting president over a sex scandal...whatever.

It's funny how these guys who spent their entire careers turning politics into warfare now want to complain about how nasty it's gotten.

@23 - "This from the guy who tried to impeach a sitting president over a sex scandal."

Maybe we could have all looked away as Clinton had sex in the Oval office with a girl young enough to be his daughter, granted. But when he was simultaneously being sued for sexual harrassment and disbarred for lying in federal court and being accused of witness tampering in that case, any decent man would have resigned.

And when he didn't, the American people, at least the decent ones, demanded he be removed.

@20 - Ann, republicans never do well with women. I bet you and all your women friends always vote for the democrat. Polls show that only 40% of women vote republican regardless of who the candidate is, so that's no big surprise.

But granted, the republican party is primarily the party of white alpha males. I'm amazed anytime we happen to win.

#23 Come scandal??? Bill Clinton was a serial sexual harasser, replete with troopers bringing low-level female state employees up to the governor's hotel room, 12 year affair with Jennifer Flowers, employed a war room staff of people to deal with Bimbo eruptions, a staff to destroy the reputations of any woman who told the truth about Slick Willie, hundreds of affairs, most probable rape of Juanita Broderick, sexually harassing interns and female employees in the White House, and lying under oath in a sexual harassment law suit. Please, don't play everyone for a fool, Paul.

Maybe with the state of the media you didn't know the depth of Clinton's base personality?

#24) On January 21, 2012, Dennis Tester says:

"But granted, the republican party is primarily the party of white alpha males. I'm amazed anytime we happen to win."

and God only knows that no one has suffered more in this country than the white alpha male. You carry a heavy burden, Dennis.

As a progressive who found little to like in Bill Clinton, I rarely leap to his defense. But it must be pointed out that Clinton never set himself up as the arbiter of personal morals, as Newt and his party have for more than a generation.

Ex-wife score after two periods:

Newt: 2 Clinton 0

Bill is getting skunked.

When the best defense of Gingrinch you can come up with is to attack Clinton....

Actually, I'd describe Gingrinch's raw meat as 'cutter grade' rather than 'choice' ;-)

Actually, #28, Clinton's name was first invoked in post #23, not by me. I simply choose to correct the record as a public service for those too young to have been around then. I know the only version of events the young people have of the Clinton debacle is what they hear from their liberal instructors.

The impeachment wasn't about oral sex with a youngster, amazing as it sounds, it was about perjury (felony) and witness tampering (felony) in the sexual harrassment lawsuit in which he was the plaintiff.

As despicable as Gingrich's behavior was with his affair, he hadn't broken any laws.

"Newt Gingrich is the Kim Kardashian of the GOP!"
The New Yorker.

I see no names in item #23 OR #28.
As Sigmund would say:

Your info about Clinton's impeachment was originally posted here be me.
And note that a bill of impeachment is a statement of charges (which requires no evidence; any congressman can present a bill).
Clinton was acquitted on the charges before Congress.

He was eventually cited by a Federal district judge for contempt and assessed a fine, and agreed to a five year suspension of his Arkansas bar license. This was NOT part of the impeachment procedure, which was Congressional, not Judicial.