For whatever reason, Michael “Savage” Weiner started off his show today trying to lump Barney Frank and Newt Gingrich as being just bookends on the opposite ends of the same shelf… Newt being a person who has “spent his entire life” in Washington feeding at the trough of Washington.
Anyone who spents more than 30 seconds or has paid attention over the last 20 years should know that Newt was a history and environmental studies professor at West Georgia College for 8 years after getting his PhD. Newt has a Doctorate in European History from Tulane University (Tulane is in New Orleans, which is nowhere near New York or Washington DC). Unlike Savage, he doesn’t demand that people grovel at his feet and call him Dr. Gingrich.
Newt was born in 1943 in Pennsylvania- his first win as a Congressman from Georgia was in 1978, which means he was 35 years old. In 1994 (after 16 years in the House and at the age of 51), he led the “Contract with America” revolution that took control of the US House away from the Democrats. After being reelected to his House seat in 1998, but losing control of the House – he resigned and left Congress to write books and return to being a college professor and occasional “pundit” on TV.
Now square that with Savage’s characterization.
There are 435 voting members of the House. I would bet you that you can’t name more than 10 of them without looking it up. You don’t become natioanlly visible until you’ve been in the House for a while – at the time, becoming Speakeer after only 16 years made him an upstart – overturning the seniority cart and ruffling feathers within the Republican leadership.
Tom Foley (who preceded him in the job as Speaker) had been in the House for 24 years and was 60 years old. Jim Wright was 65 and had been in Congress for 32 years and in Texas policics for 7 years before that. Tip O’Neil was 65 years old and had been in the House for 24 years.
I spent many a night watching Newt on C-Span talking to the three people who were watching at 2 AM. I am very confortable with the idea of a President Gingrich.