The Deep Shallowness of Prof. Gingrich

Just in the nick of time for Christmas, Newt Gingrich has burst onto the national stage in a leading role.

Just in the nick of time for Christmas, Newt Gingrich has burst onto the national stage in a leading role.

The latest front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination has adopted a theatrical pose for the season – not as the jolly ol’ St. Nick bringing joy to children everywhere, but as Scrooge. Only scroogier.

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Channeling his inner Ebenezer, the Newt called America’s child labor laws “truly stupid,” adding with Dickensian glee that he would fire school janitors and have low-income children do that work. Really? The top GOP contender for president of the USA actually advocates turning poor school kids into janitors?

Why, yes, explained the former House speaker, who never tires of telling us that he is not merely very, smart but visionary. “Start with the following two facts,” he lectured at an Iowa campaign stop. “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday.” Thus, sayeth the visionary, chain ’em to mop and teach the little ragamuffins about life.

Did I mention that this guy is a candidate for president? Of the United States? In 2012, not in 1812?

Newt is a cluster bomb of ignorance. First, three out of four poor adults work, and most poor children are in households with at least one of their parents showing up every Monday for a job. And Gingrich’s condescending implication that poverty equals bad morals is not only wrong, but frightening shallow, elitist, clueless… and, well, scroogy. If he wants to see bad morals in action, he shouldn’t be looking down on poor people, but pointing up at Wall Streeters and CEOs who’re profiting by creating more poor people.

The question for Republicans is: do you really want to nominate Scrooge for president?

“Newt’s War on Poor Children,” The New York Times, December 3, 2011.

“Out of Africa and Into Iowa,” The New York Times, December 4, 2011.

“Fund Raising Is Now Urgent In Gingrich Bid,” The New York Times, December 6, 2011.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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