Gingrich on numerous past occasions: FDR was the greatest president of the 20th century

posted at 5:40 pm on December 13, 2011 by Tina Korbe

If we’re all going to get in a tizzy over Mitt Romney’s past comments to the effect that he is a progressive, I think it only fair that we also work ourselves into a tizzy over some of Gingrich’s past comments — to wit, his repeated praise of big-government glorifier Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his warm words for Service Employees International Union head Andy Stern and his claim that he is a “Realpolitik Wilsonian.”

Two videos, both via The Blaze. In the first, Gingrich raves about FDR — over and over again. In the second, he proclaims himself a Wilsonian. In context, the latter doesn’t seem quite as concerning as the former, but some undertone still strikes me as ominous.

These types of videos are why I have begun to think Newt Gingrich is less a conservative than he is a type of technocrat, just as Mitt Romney is less a conservative than a pragmatist. But, on some level, that just means both are relative conservatives who really want to govern as president. People who want to run for president almost necessarily have to have a little something of the “big government bug” in them. They want to have a national administration — and immense power — at their disposal. Sure, they might seek to fill it with competent, efficient people. But they still ultimately believe they can be effective in the public sphere in a way they could not be in the private sphere — and effective on a national level in a way they could not be at a state or local level. Otherwise, they’d stay firmly in the private sector — or at the state or local level — in the first place.

Face it: Most conservatives aren’t clamoring to run for office. They’d like to live their lives and be primarily left alone, thank you very much. Those who do run might base their platforms on certain core conservative principles, but they’ll likely go about pushing those principles in a way that is very nearly inconsistent with them. Something about desiring power seems to disqualify people from deserving power.

That’s why I keep coming back to the most encouraging idea I’ve encountered in some time. According to Milton Friedman, “The way to solve problems is to make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.” To me, that’s the role of the Tea Party. In 2010, the Tea Party proved in a big way that it’s politically unprofitable to do the wrong things. In 2012, conservatives can prove again — by ousting Obama and electing the GOP nominee, whoever the nominee proves to be — that it’s still politically unprofitable to do the wrong things (e.g. to pass a national healthcare overhaul over the heads of protesting Americans, to bail out businesses that should have been allowed to fail, to fail to stand up for the basic right to life, etc., etc.). Then, we can set about ensuring the GOP president knows he will only be up for reelection if he or she does the right things.


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Gingrich: “FDR was the greatest Democrat President, and in my judgment, the greatest President of the 20th century.”
Gingrich: “FDR is the greatest political leader of the 20th century”.
Gingrich: “Franklin Roosevelt actually got things done”.
Gingrich: “What we are talking about is a transition as big as, if not bigger than, the New Deal”.

Only someone who hates Ronald Reagan, who was the greatest President of the 20th century, could support a man like this.

VorDaj on December 13, 2011 at 9:19 PM

Obviously its hard to admire a President that cut the government’s size by 50% and its budget by 50%, gave the Nation a huge tax break, withdrew power that government was never meant to hold, and got a massively boosted economy thereafter for doing these things.

Best President of the 20th Century? Calvin Coolidge.

He demonstrated that our positive liberty, when unfettered from wasteful government, will lead us to prosperity. He is the one that the Progressive Left and Right want out of the history books.

ajacksonian on December 13, 2011 at 9:21 PM

Gingrich= McCain = notRomney–>Obama in 2012. We got ourselves a TeaParty so we could choose Gingrich? Say it ain’t so.

aloysiusmiller on December 13, 2011 at 9:13 PM

So they should go for Romney instead? LOL “He’s leading in Gallup among independents!!!!111!!”

Its a fact, Romney attended more events for more candidates in more states in 2010 than any other candidate. His PAC raised more money than anyone else. As others whine, he’s been campaigning for five years, is this true or not? If he has been campaigning or preparing for five years, then he has worked the hardest.

By “campaigning” of course you mean machine-pol-like stuff such as handing out cash to candidates to call in the IOUs come primary time. I think that’s all Romney knows. He’s still stuck in his dad’s generation. He was a financial factor in the last election, but quite often he came rushing to the aid of the victors.

Rick Perry put his finger in the air and jumped in at the last minute after everyone else had already been campaigning for months.

swamp_yankee on December 13, 2011 at 6:54 PM

That would actually be a plus for Perry. At least he’s not one of Steyn’s “morbidly and unhealthily single-minded” who comes across as willing to sell his firstborn or cut off his own right arm to be elected president.

ddrintn on December 13, 2011 at 9:30 PM

greatest president of the 20th century

Well that’s a race for the basement, isn’t it?

Dante on December 13, 2011 at 9:30 PM

Marxists to the left of me Fascists to the right of me here I am stuck in the middle with…huntsman?

For whatever it’s worth, I have reservations about Newt (among which is reservation of the right to change my mind). But I want a junkyard dog in this fight. All these poodles ain’t gonna cut it.

mrsknightley on December 13, 2011 at 9:49 PM

Oops, previous bold should’ve been a quote.

mrsknightley on December 13, 2011 at 9:50 PM

Anybody but noot.

Ruiner on December 13, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Christine O’Donnell endorses Romney:

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2011/12/christine-odonnell-endorses-romney-107376.html

Ruiner on December 13, 2011 at 10:06 PM

I know there is a lot of Reagen fans here, but I legitimately think, without question, that Theodore Roosevelt was the best president of the 20th century easily. It certainly was not FDR, despite the last name, who wanted to alter the Supreme Court to favor his own warped views. F that.

Freeloader on December 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Speaker Gingrich’s comments about FDR actually serve a very important purpose. They place into context Speaker Gringrich’s ideology concerning the “Contract with America”. Look at the contract and how it was presented, it very much mimics the style of “first 100 days of FDR”. The “effectiveness” comments are the most telling in just what aspect of FDR Speaker Gingrich seems to hold in high esteem. It seems to me that Speaker Gingrich wanted to be the leader behind the right wing political equivalent to FDR’s “first 100 days” which are held in high esteem by some historians especially given the historiography of the time. This is not a mere hunch either as it is practically confirmed by the Heritage Foundation themselves with Jeffery Gaynor stating that the passage of the Contract with America was “The idea of the first 100 days repeated, in a Republican Congress, what had been done by the most successful Democratic President in American history; in 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt vigorously launched the New Deal in his first 100 days in office. The key difference between 1994 and 1932 was that Republicans only controlled the Congress while a Democrat, President Clinton, still remained in the White House. This has clearly limited both the speed and scope of changes.” (http://www.heritage.org/research/lecture/the-contract-with-america-implementing-new-ideas-in-the-us)

A certain level of cognizance must be applied to past comments concerning historical Democrats particularly because conservatism was just beginning its push back against the “New Deal Coalition” and a progressive agenda that had entrenched itself very deeply. We still live with repercussions of this era, Social Security being the most visible instance, and the constituency developed by giving money to voters is particularly difficult to dissuade from voting for politicians that promise to keep the checks rolling out.

That said I have to state that I despise the policies of FDR, and I wish that the Supreme Court would have had the backbone to stand up to him so that their declarations of unconstitutionality would have been recorded for posterity (Scroll down to about mid page to the section titled “A President Tries to Pack a Court” : http://www.ssa.gov/history/court.html )

sublibertate on December 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Freeloader on December 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM

Nope. Teddy Roosevelt was our first socialist POTUS. He was a progressive.

Reagan and Coolidge were the two best POTUSes of the 20th century. Bar none.

Aslans Girl on December 13, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Today with FDR and Woodrow Wilson I brew
Tomorrow with Nancy Pelosi and Andy Stern I bake
Then the Conservative and Tea Party future I will take
For very few yet know my sly conniving little game
That Franklin Delano Gingrich is my real name!

Cheshire Cat on December 13, 2011 at 10:21 PM

Context for those excerpts would be helpful before grabbing the torches and pitchforks. I’m not interested in reducing politics to simplistic litmus tests. One of the major attractions of the Gingrich candidacy for some of us is that — agree or disagree — he actually has ideas and is willing to discuss them. When someone does that, it’s pretty easy to splice out sentences divorced of context and get some all worked up about them. But it’s unfortunate because it reduces our political conversation to banalities and platitudes. I’m over that. Being able and willing to carry a sustained argument is by no means enough to win my support, but being unable and/or unwilling to do so is all but certainly enough to lose it.

Sludge Report on December 13, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Trump might reconsider and run – splitting the gullible vote between Noot and Trump – saving the party.

Ruiner on December 13, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Nope. Teddy Roosevelt was our first socialist POTUS. He was a progressive.

Reagan and Coolidge were the two best POTUSes of the 20th century. Bar none.

Aslans Girl on December 13, 2011

Nah, TR was great. He was indeed a progressive, (socialist – lol) and I have no problem with how he personally handled himself under that label. He was a different mold of a man than Romney by far. I liked Coolidge as well, but TR was easily the best. He’s the exact type of leadership this country needs today, not a soft, easily pushed around dunce like we have now or could elect shortly.

Freeloader on December 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM

I know there is a lot of Reagen fans here, but I legitimately think, without question, that Theodore Roosevelt was the best president of the 20th century easily. It certainly was not FDR, despite the last name, who wanted to alter the Supreme Court to favor his own warped views. F that.

Freeloader on December 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM

TR is the model of true old-school progressivism, the kinds that actually made people’s lives better. Modern ‘greens’ could learn a thing (or ten) from him as well.

By contrast, FDR’s approach to the Great Depression can be likened to a blind man trying to kill a hornet with a shotgun. Or perhaps a panicked mother buying one OTC medicine after another from the drugstore instead of talking to a doctor.

MelonCollie on December 13, 2011 at 10:43 PM

Hey, blatentblue, or whatever, did you see that now? You asked for a link – and hotair provided it.

Bambi on December 13, 2011 at 10:53 PM

To get the full understanding of what Newt is saying in the above video, and for those who don’t know the full relevance of this you need to see this one:

http://web.gbtv.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=20029639

Beck plays his words and explains what it all means, it’s history, etc. such as what the Four Freedoms are and what they mean to our country.

I’m sorry but Beck is correct. This is Progressivism. As a side note, in response to Beck’s Progressive claim, Newt said it depends on what standard he was using. Huh?

I’ve heard Newt say he’s a Rockefeller Republican. I’ve heard him say he’s a Alexander Hamilton-Roosevelt Republican. I’ve heard him say he’s a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. (This one as late as last week)

The funny thing is, I’ve never heard Newt say he’s a Conservative or even a Conservative Republican until his run for President.

TriciaNC on December 13, 2011 at 11:27 PM

BACHMANN…the steel spine with conservative conviction.

balkanmom on December 13, 2011 at 11:50 PM

Man, the more I am reminded about Newt, the more that I don’t want him to win the nomination.

Perry or bust.

Theophile on December 14, 2011 at 1:06 AM

Uh FDR won WWII. That’s pretty great in my book.

terryannonline on December 13, 2011 at 6:12 PM

And here I thought it was our military and commanders working with the military and commanders of other countries that accomplished that.

How silly of me…

dominigan on December 14, 2011 at 1:35 AM

Freeloader on December 13, 2011 at 10:37 PM

I used to think that way, but my views on TR have changed as I learned more. For example, here is one article…

Bully Boy: The Neocons’ Favorite President

dominigan on December 14, 2011 at 1:41 AM

Uh FDR won WWII. That’s pretty great in my book.

terryannonline on December 13, 2011 at 6:12 PM

I just want to take time out for a moment to thank terry for her remarkable consistency. You live down to your intellectual reputation the moment your fingers hit the keys. Thank you.

Jaibones on December 14, 2011 at 7:17 AM

Man, the more I am reminded about Newt, the more that I don’t want him to win the nomination.

Perry or bust.

Theophile on December 14, 2011 at 1:06 AM

You have identified the problem, at least. I have been thinking I could support Gingrich, and it’s apparent now that I just don’t know him.

The video of Gingrich praising FDR makes me physically sick.

Jaibones on December 14, 2011 at 7:19 AM

These types of videos are why I have begun to think Newt Gingrich is less a conservative than he is a type of technocrat, just as Mitt Romney is less a conservative than a pragmatist. But, on some level, that just means both are relative conservatives who really want to govern as president.

The difference is that Gingrich at least starts from a conservative position and has fought for conservative ideas and policies. Romney starts from a technocrat position and has never fought for conservative ideas or policies.

so, while neither is a hard-core conservative, who is more likely to move the farthest left in office? My money is on Romney moving the farthest left of all the republican candidates.

Newt is not perfect, and is not my preferred candidate (I think out of everyone left, I would prefer Perry the most), but I think Newt would be better than Mitt by far.

Monkeytoe on December 14, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Uh FDR won WWII. That’s pretty great in my book.

terryannonline on December 13, 2011 at 6:12 PM

And here I thought it was our military and commanders working with the military and commanders of other countries that accomplished that.

Let’s be a little bit fair here. FDR was a big part in WWII. He picked the right leaders, worked well with England, got America on a very successful war footing and producing tons of arms, etc. I dislike FDR as much as any conservative as to his liberal domestic policies, but let’s not fail to give him credit for being a very good and effective war time President.

Monkeytoe on December 14, 2011 at 8:32 AM

I’ve been doing some research into FDR and what I’m learning is seriously challenging everything I thought I knew about him.

For instance, I didn’t know that he had made money off of the German hyperinflation with his United European Investors company. There would seem to have been a whole lot going on in the financial front from that period that never made it into the history books.

republicanmother on December 14, 2011 at 2:54 PM

What does he mean by “great”?

Two meanings:

1. Large in scale/importance: “A great storm hit New Orleans.”

2. Good.

Gingrich is a historian. In a historical context, the first definition is used very often(ie, The Great Man Theory).

He may not have meant it as, “FDR was the best President of the 20th Century.”(which he wasn’t)

Okay, he probably didn’t. But he can use my excuse if all else fails.

Dr. Jingo on December 14, 2011 at 6:45 PM

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