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Newt Gingrich v. Robert Novak Print E-mail
by Tom Pauken    Mon, Jul 30, 2007, 02:03 PM
In a recent interview with the American Spectator, former Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich “ripped conservatives and liberals alike”, according to the Washington Examiner. He was particularly harsh in his criticism of conservative columnist Robert Novak.

Here is what Newt had to way about Novak:

“Sometimes he’s right and sometimes he’s just venomous … He was once a good reporter, he’s now just a personality.”

Gingrich’s words sure didn’t ring true to me in describing one of the hardest working and most insightful journalists on the Washington scene for many decades.

Once I had finished reading Robert’s Novak’s new best-seller on his 50 years reporting in Washington entitled “The Prince of Darkness”, I understood why Gingrich was so upset with Novak. The author’s discussion of Gingrich in his book makes it clear that he is no fan of the former Speaker and that Novak sees Newt Gingrich as more of a political opportunist than a true conservative. The publication of Novak’s book couldn’t have come at a worst time for Gingrich who desperately is trying to present himself as the real conservative alternative to the leading Republican contenders for President in 2008.

Robert Novak reminds his readers that Newt Gingrich (unlike Ronald Reagan) never was a philosophical conservative and botched the great Republican Congressional victory of 1994 during the time when Newt Gingrich served as Speaker of the House.

Novak recounts what only a few longtime conservatives knew – Gingrich’s political roots were in the Rockefeller wing of the Republican party: “While I admired Gingrich, I considered him a political adventurer who might return to his liberal Republican roots.” On another occasion in the book, the conservative columnist notes that Gingrich “was regressing to his Rockefeller Republican roots after less than seven months as Speaker.”

Novak also recounts how Gingrich let his ego and an expensive book deal get in the way of advancing the conservative, legislative agenda after the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994: “Gingrich had barely been installed as Speaker when it was learned he had signed a $4.5 million book contract with Harper Collins, part of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire.”

Gingrich had launched a ferocious, personal attack on Democratic Speaker Jim Wright over Wright’s subsidized book deal by organized labor only to turn around and do the same thing on a much larger scale once he became Speaker. Again, Novak is critical of Gingrich for his questionable book deal:

“Gingrich wanted too much, too soon. Ironically, he shared the desires of Jim Wright, whose clumsy implementation of those desires enabled Gingrich to drive him out of the Speaker’s chair. Actually, Wright’s scheme of having organized labor buy bulk copies of his paperback memoir – a booklet more than a book – was penny ante compared to what Gingrich attempted.”

Finally, Robert Novak observed what many conservatives had noticed when they got to know Newt Gingrich. Unlike Ronald Reagan (who was a very humble man), Newt Gingrich had a big ego which got in the way. Bob Novak described how Newt’s ego limited his effectiveness in an early article on the new Speaker for Readers Digest entitled “Will Success Spoil Newt Gingrich?” Here is part of what Novak had to say:

“But he also has exhibited an overweening ego that many fear may be his Achilles’ heel – compromising on his ability to deliver on the promises he made to Americans who want a smaller, less intrusive federal government.”

I have known both men for a long time. While I haven’t always agreed with Robert Novak’s political views, I respect him as a principled conservative. And, in this instance, I think that Novak has it right in his assessment of Newt Gingrich.

Count me in Novak’s corner in this rhetorical skirmish between two well-known public heavyweights on the Right.

 

 

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Comments (16)add comment
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written by Paul D. Perry , July 31, 2007

I agree Tom, well stated.


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written by Cyd Birdwell , July 31, 2007

Nostalgia seems to be the "thing" with Republicans, lately. Goldwater, Rockefeller, Reagan. Maybe it's a reaction to the current political crisis.

Where's the future? I just read that Fred Thompson's campaign dissed a Republican blogger last weekend. That doesn't seem like a very smart move.

http://shorterlink.com/?GKL07C

I "am" glad to read something positive about Jim Wright from the Dallas Blog. I always believed that he got a bum rap.



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written by Wes Riddle , July 31, 2007

Tom,
Outstanding piece--and thanks for pulling the tidbits on Newt Gingrich from Bob Novak's book. I certainly was a fan of Newt's in 1994, but today I feel a seedy sense of having been used. The conservative revolution fizzled at its apex, chiefly because Newt turned out to be an extraordinary back-bencher, who squandered his opportunity to lead. He also revealed a less than stellar character, and I persist in an old-fashioned notion that a man who cannot be faithful to his wife is suspect on much else besides. Loyalty and integrity are closely linked. Faithfulness to God, country and family are nearly organic and represent a fealty to the highest of human ideals. Ashame really, since Newt is a wonderful communicator; and we have woefully needed someone in Republican leadership these past seven years, who could communicate--or who felt an obligation to do so. Our president has shown he can't and that he doesn't.



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written by Rick Tyler , July 31, 2007

First let me point out that of the dozen or so reporters in the same room with Newt during the ATR/American Spectator Newsmaker event, The Examiner which Pauken refers to, was the only paper to botch what Newt said about Charles de Gaulle.

Second, Novak, the undisputed dean of Washington’s political reporters is indeed insightful and hard working, but not above reproach. And sometimes, as in the case of Newt, he gets it wrong.

The assertion that Newt is a “political opportunist” not a “true conservative” is laughable.

In case you forgot, let’s review Newt’s historic conservative political opportunities, and we can have a good laugh together.

It was Newt Gingrich’s political opportunism that led to the largest vote swing in an off-year election in American history. What started as a grass roots movement resulted in ten million more people voting for Republican Congressional candidates in 1994 than did in 1990, which led to the GOP capturing control on Congress for the first time in four decades. That was one heck of an opportunity.

After becoming Speaker, Newt took all the ‘political opportunities’ he could. He started by ensuring that each of the promises in the Contract with America were fulfilled. Those ‘opportunities’ included the first tax cut in 17 years, the first child tax credit, a capital gains tax cut, Congressional reforms including term limits for committee chairs, and making all laws passed by Congress applicable to the Congress itself. He opened up the Thomas system so that every American could actually read the legislation Congress was voting on.

He then took the political opportunity to balance the Federal budget for four years in a row despite the fact that there was a Democrat in the White House. He opportunistically took the lead in increasing defense and intelligence spending for the first time since President Reagan. The 911 Commission report called the intelligence increase the “Gingrich Plus Up”.

Now, name one other political leader today who can match Newt Gingrich’s conservative legislative accomplishments (or what Pauken and Novak call “political opportunism”)? OK, while you think about that.

The next opportunity was to reelect a Republican Congress for the first time since the 1920s and then for a third time. Remember in 2006, it was the Republicans in Congress without Speaker Gingrich who, with the help of their political consultants who couldn’t recognize a political opportunity if they saw one, lost the Gingrich majority.

As for the book deal, Newt turned down a lawful $4 million advance by Harper Collins for his book “To Renew America” and instead only accepted a single $1. The book went on to become a national best seller based on its merits. There is simply no comparison to Speaker Wright’s forcing the unions to pay for his book - none.

Newt has written 10 books, two were New York Times top ten best sellers and he is one of the few authors to make the list with both a fiction and non-fiction book. Maybe Novak and Pauken don’t like his books, but to characterize a legitimate book deal by a proven best-selling author as "questionable" is frankly startling.

Finally, insecurities in Washington, DC are so prevalent that if you are smart it must be that your ego is too big because everyone, including Novak, has to be the smartest person in the room.

Pauken, no stranger to political opportunism, was likely asked to write a review to help sell Novak’s book and I want to help. Please buy Novak’s book Prince of Darkness. But when you get to the parts about Newt, remember that we need another true conservative political opportunist like Newt.

Best regards,
Rick Tyler
Communications Director and Spokesperson
Gingrich Communications
Speaker Newt Gingrich
540-338-1250
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.newt.org



...
written by RT , July 31, 2007

First let me point out that of the dozen or so reporters in the same room with Newt during the ATR/American Spectator Newsmaker event, The Examiner which Pauken refers to, was the only paper to botch what Newt said about Charles de Gaulle.

Second, Novak, the undisputed dean of Washington ’s political reporters is indeed insightful and hard working, but not above reproach. And sometimes, as in the case of Newt, he gets it wrong.

The assertion that Newt is a “political opportunist” not a “true conservative” is laughable.

In case you forgot, let’s review Newt’s historic conservative political opportunities, and we can have a good laugh together.

It was Newt Gingrich’s political opportunism that led to the largest vote swing in an off-year election in American history. What started as a grass roots movement resulted in ten million more people voting for Republican Congressional candidates in 1994 than did in 1990, which led to the GOP capturing control on Congress for the first time in four decades. That was one heck of an opportunity.

After becoming Speaker, Newt took all the ‘political opportunities’ he could. He started by ensuring that each of the promises in the Contract with America were fulfilled. Those ‘opportunities’ included the first tax cut in 17 years, the first child tax credit, a capital gains tax cut, Congressional reforms including term limits for committee chairs, and making all laws passed by Congress applicable to the Congress itself. He opened up the Thomas system so that every American could actually read the legislation Congress was voting on.

He then took the political opportunity to balance the Federal budget for four years in a row despite the fact that there was a Democrat in the White House. He opportunistically took the lead in increasing defense and intelligence spending for the first time since President Reagan. The 911 Commission report called the intelligence increase the “Gingrich Plus Up”.

Now, name one other political leader today who can match Newt Gingrich’s conservative legislative accomplishments (or what Pauken and Novak call “political opportunism”)? OK, while you think about that.

The next opportunity was to reelect a Republican Congress for the first time since the 1920s and then for a third time. Remember in 2006, it was the Republicans in Congress without Speaker Gingrich who, with the help of their political consultants who couldn’t recognize a political opportunity if they saw one, lost the Gingrich majority.

As for the book deal, Newt turned down a lawful $4 million advance by Harper Collin s for his book “To Renew America ” and instead only accepted a single $1. The book went on to become a national best seller based on its merits. There is simply no comparison to Speaker Wright’s forcing the unions to pay for his book - none.

Newt has written 10 books, two were New York Times top ten best sellers and he is one of the few authors to make the list with both a fiction and non-fiction book. Maybe Novak and Pauken don’t like his books, but to characterize a legitimate book deal by a proven best-selling author as "questionable"is frankly startling.

Finally, insecurities in Washington , DC are so prevalent that if you are smart it must be that your ego is too big because everyone, including Novak, has to be the smartest person in the room.

Pauken, no stranger to political opportunism, was likely asked to write a review to help sell Novak’s book and I want to help. Please buy Novak’s book Prince of Darkness. But when you get to the parts about Newt, remember that we need another true conservative political opportunist like Newt.

Best regards,

Rick Tyler

Communications Director and Spokesperson

Speaker Newt Gingrich



...
written by Chris in VA , August 01, 2007

Mr. Tyler's eruption is hilarious -- he reads minds, he speaks for "Speaker Gingrich" (er, what happened to Nancy, Rick? Or to "Speaker" Newt, for that matter), and he doesn't even thank Tom Pauken for going so easy on Newt.

Ego doth wax eloquent in the beltway barroom, but methinks Newt doth protest too much. Perhaps he needs some quiet time with his spokespeople to cultivate some humility. After ditching his wife the way he did (I know, so did Bill Weld, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and John McCain -- they all took advantage of "opportunities," I suppose), he has the brass to send his flak out to tell us he's our kind of conservative.

I note with interest that Mr. Tyler does not deny any of Pauken's waltz down memory lane with Newt's old Rockefeller cronies. And, come to think of it, he glories is Newt's "opportunism." That's hardly Reaganesque, to us family-values conservatives who put a high priority on principle, including (egad!) character.

Tom, give us round two, this guy lives on Alpha Centauri. You went too easy on him.



...
written by Steve Heath , August 01, 2007

I see Newt is spending some of his money on PR to bolster his hopefilly shortlived Presidential campaign. I thought he was history, but he just won't go away. I'm glad Novak is still around. I wish he was still on the McLaughlin Group.

Newt Gingrich had his day in the sun, accomplished some good things, and then sold out, as apparently most of the Republicans on the Hill have done since Reagan.

I think Newt has absolutely no chance of getting the nomination. He needs to go back to his profitable book writing and speech making while he still has a following (shrinking though it is), though running for President will no doubt help him sell books - it certainly gives him a regular audience with Sean Hannity.

It's hard to debate whether Gingrich is a "Conservative". A lot of people think Bush and Cheney are "conservatives". By whatever definition one may choose to include those two big government/pro-war/anti-civil liberty usurpers of the Movement, than I suppose Gingrich could be included.




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written by Ian Perry , August 04, 2007

I wish he would run-- to split up the establishment Republican vote even more, but I think that is too much to hope for.


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written by Paul D. Perry , August 05, 2007

He cynically threw away term limitations as an issue. Gingrich would not be welcome on my lawn much less in my home.


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written by McLaughlin , August 06, 2007

Newt says the "War on Terror" is a phony war.

Good for Newt.

http://shorterlink.com/?1K765H



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written by RelicMM , August 06, 2007

Thanks for the rundown, Tom. I was impressed by an interview with Robert Novak on Raymond Arroyo's The World Over, and as a consequence, I just started reading "The Prince of Darkness. But I have always had a high regard for his journalistic efforts especially through his years since he appeared on the political scene in D.C.in a much different and possibly more civil world than we see now. He has done a great reporting job and reading his book with be a good review of his conservative viewpoint, and I have so often agreed with him. Shame on Gingrich.


...
written by RelicMM , August 06, 2007

O.K. so you can't spell will with a th. I am mortified!


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written by Right Wing Republican Volunteer , August 06, 2007


Mr. Tyler:

Newt is a man of large intellect, large ego, and large hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, the ego and hypocrisy long ago overwhelmed the intellect.




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written by Right Wing Republican Volunteer , August 06, 2007


BTW, Mr. Tyler, you are a tad bit wet behind the ears to be sniping at folks who have individually paid more conservative dues than you and Newt put together.

I have known Mr. Pauken for well over 30 years and you are incorrect: he is, in fact, a "stranger to political opportunism" just as is Mr. Novak.




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written by McLaughlin , August 07, 2007

Novak should move to Dallas and then he can hang out with all his wild and crazy Republican friends. They can all go to the Bush Library and talk among themselves.


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written by George B. Chamberlain , August 13, 2007

Mr. Chairman,


It must be nice to walk down memory lane and think about the good old Republican days.

There is nothing conservative about the current administration. They have driven the country off a cliff. Sir, thankfully you and you kind are over the hill and out of sight.







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