Newt Gingrich Nails the Washington Insider Problem - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Newt Gingrich Nails the Washington Insider Problem

You can’t make it up.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave an interview to reporter Isaac Chotiner of Slate the other day. 

For a vivid illustration of the difference between the elitist, haughty thinking of the American Ruling Class (as unerringly described in Angelo Codevilla’s The Ruling Class)and those who, like Newt, have not lost their ability to connect with (Codevilla again) the “Country Class” — i.e., the American people — the interview is priceless. Bravo to Newt!

The interview should be read in totality, but here are a few excerpts to give a flavor:

Isaac Chotiner: You were at a meeting on Monday with other Washington figures and Trump. What did you make of him?

Newt Gingrich: Well, Callista and I were both very impressed. In that kind of a setting he talks in a relatively low tone. He is very much somebody who has been good at business. And he listens well. He outlined the campaign as he saw it. I think he did a good job listening. He occasionally asked clarifying questions. He was very open to critical advice. I am not going to get into details, but I will say my overall impression was that in that setting he was totally under control as a guy who has done a ton of business and knows exactly how to operate in that kind of room.

You seem more sanguine than other people in Washington about Trump’s rise. Is that fair to say?

Sure. Remember, I came in as a Reaganite, Kempite when I helped lead the effort in 1994. And I have consistently been in favor of a more aggressive, more active Republican Party that reaches out and expands its base and that is very, very idea-oriented. I think Washington is a city with enormous problems. I think we need somebody — and both Cruz and Trump fit this — who is going to break up the old order and insist on real change. It’s not that I am sanguine. This will lead to a period of very real challenges, but I think we need it.

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a possible president here.

You are talking about a guy who was smart enough to build Trump Towers, build lots of hotels, build lots of casinos, and own the Miss Universe contest.

He is not stupid. For many people, that seems to be inconceivable because they have a university Ph.D. theory of being smart.

Didn’t you write your Ph.D. thesis on the Belgian Congo?

I did, and I wrote my master’s thesis on Japanese and Russian railroad construction in the 19th century.

So why are you bashing people with Ph.D.s?

Because I have been in the real world, doing real things, and I understand the limitations of academic knowledge. I think it’s greatly overrated.

Look, you read a lot of books about how the world works, you are an educated person, you care about policy. When you hear Trump address subjects like NATO, it doesn’t worry you —

No. I read what he said about NATO, and I think it has been grossly taken out of context. What he said about NATO was the Bush — Rumsfeld position, which is that the Europeans ought to pick up more of the slack.

… I want to get back to what Trump is doing, and we both know he is playing on impulses —

No, no we don’t.

We don’t?

What we know is that Trump has had the nerve to raise questions in a clear language because he represents the millions of Americans who are sick and tired of being told that they have to be guilt-ridden and keep their mouth shut.

… You must know a lot of people in Washington like Kristol and Krauthammer and George Will who are horrified by Trump. This isn’t just liberal angst.

I think a number of them need to go on vacation.

You think that is all it is?

I think the tension is getting to them.

The tension of what?

Of having to deal with something that they don’t understand and don’t believe in. It horrifies them. It represents an alternative world they never dreamed of.

… You must notice that Trump has no serious foreign or domestic policy, and that these “intellectuals” who are horrified by this are not just dreaming it up out of nowhere.

They are queueing off something different than the American people are.

Is your job, as a politician, to merely follow the American people?

I am applying the Buckley principle to the Washington intellectuals. They are inbred, they talk to each other, they are treating the American people with contempt. Forget Trump. Seventy percent of Republicans between Trump, Carson, and Cruz have repudiated their world. And they are saying, “Boy, these people are really hicks. They are so stupid they have been taken in.” Well maybe, just maybe, those American people know something the guys in Washington don’t, and frankly, I am on the side of the American people, not the Washington intellectuals.

Now. What do you see here in this Newt interview with Chotiner? What is on display is a sterling example of exactly what has gone wrong inside the Washington Beltway — and just why so many millions are responding to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. (Ahem: again, ticket material?) 

When, for example, Chotiner says, bold print supplied by me, “…I want to get back to what Trump is doing, and we both know he is playing on impulses,” the underlying moral superiority of the Ruling Class is surfaced. What Chotiner is really saying is that Americans are nothing more than… sniff, sniff… a bunch of bigoted rubes. And make no mistake, Chotiner is far from alone here in this all-too typical belief underlying the Ruling Class views of Americans. 

Note as well the belief that to have an academic Ph.D. is a sign of impeccable brilliance. Real word experience is, if considered at all, as the sign of a second or possibly third or fourth-rate mind. Translation in this situation? Donald Trump is not a smart guy. No wonder all those millions of stupid people are voting for him.

Underneath the thin veneer of the ordinary politics involved in choosing candidate A over candidate B this year lies the dark mass of contempt and insiderdom that permeates the culture of Washington. It is this contempt that explains what can only be called the wild hysteria that is coursing so palpably through wild-eyed D.C. elites.

Here is the Washington Post comparing — not for the first time — Trump to Hitler:

First, you don’t have to go back to history’s most famous example, Adolf Hitler, to understand that authoritarian rulers can achieve power through the ballot box. In the world today, it has become almost commonplace for elected leaders to lock the door behind them once they achieve power. Vladimir Putin in Russia, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey — all found ways once in power to restrict opposition, muzzle the media and erode checks and balances.

Hitler? Hitler? Really? The man who launched a World War II that killed six million Jews and by historical estimates some 11 million human beings roughly estimated? Well, yes. As in this column yesterday from the Post’s “conservative” columnist Kathleen Parker who wrote — amazingly? stunningly? like a certifiable wacko bird? — a column which said this after calling Trump a fascist:

The conundrum for Republicans is that though Trump may be the devil, he’s their devil. How can they condemn the guy that a near-majority of their own party prefers? If you’re, say, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), how do you say you won’t support your party’s nominee? Then again, if you’re a good man like Ryan, how do you support him?

That is the question of the moment, isn’t it? This is what we ask ourselves about the industrialists and “good Germans” who supported Hitler. This is what we ask our Southern grandparents about the time when blacks were being lynched. What we ask the World War II generation about rounding up Japanese Americans. And while we’re at it, what was your vote on Vietnam, Iraq? There’s a price to pay for silence.

That so few have shown the courage to deny Trump tells us how difficult it is to be brave — and how rare character is. But one can only pretend for so long not to hear the dog whistles of history, a skill at which Republicans have become too well practiced over the decades. Perhaps they’re no longer listening. Or they’re deluding themselves that Trump’s words don’t really mean what, you know, they mean.

Wow. Living Outside the Washington Insider Culture of Washington Insider Reich Enthusiasts, one is forced to ask. Who is really the “Good German” here? Paul Ryan — or Kathleen Parker? What disapprobation will Parker face if she supports Trump? Loss of TV and cocktail party invites? What love will come her way by spewing the anti-Semitic spittle that Donald Trump, father of the Judaism-convert Ivanka, father-in-law, in-law. and grandfather to Jews — is really a Hitler wannabe? Does this not serve as just a tiny indicator of how truly disturbing and morally rotted the Washington Insider culture has become? One is compelled to ask of Ms. Parker a gender-revised Joseph Welch question from the Army-McCarthy hearings: “Have you no sense of decency, m’am? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Never mind. Clearly the answer is “no.”

Columnist George Will assures darkly that Trump is “appealing entirely to white people.” It makes no difference that this is utterly untrue. As Fox News Latino reported after the Nevada caucuses:

Donald Trump’s hardline stance on immigration didn’t seem to hurt him with Latinos in Nevada, as the Republican presidential front-runner claimed 45 percent of the Hispanic vote in Tuesday’s caucus, according to an entrance poll conducted by Fox News.

All of which translates to Washington Insiders as saying that if Nevada Latinos aren’t racist for supporting Trump they are at the very least stupid. And of course, how many Ph.D.s do they have? And when was the last time they dined in Georgetown or thought deeply on foreign policy with the guys and gals over at the AEI? 

Newt Gingrich wasn’t kidding when he said, “I think the tension is getting to them…. Of having to deal with something that they don’t understand and don’t believe in. It horrifies them. It represents an alternative world they never dreamed of.”


Let’s suppose for a moment that Donald Trump is now President-elect Trump as of yesterday’s election. Now what? What happens in “ordinary” circumstances when a new president arrives in town? The Old Guard braces. There’s a new team sweeping in and the old team is on it’s way out. All those relationships carefully built over the years with Team Obama — as with Team Bush 43, Team Clinton, Team Bush 41, and Team Reagan before it — is gonzo. Time to get on the Inside with the new people. Problem? Who the hell are the new people? Who is the new chief of staff? Who knows the new guy or at who at least knows somebody who knows the new guy? Who is handling that proposal to handle the President-elect’s crazy idea about making insurance companies more competitive? God, you don’t think he was serious about that, do you? Has he read the paper from the think tank on the nuclear triad? Who should I invite to lunch? To dinner? 

And on and on the circus goes as the Washington Cartel — to borrow from Senator Cruz — sets to work to grind down the sensibilities of the new Team Trump. And if they don’t succeed? Panic. Phone calls aren’t being returned. President Trump and his team not only have no idea who Mr. Insider is — and worse they may know exactly — but they don’t care. They don’t care.

Washington is the Big City that is really a village. Instead of six degrees of separation there are about three. One’s neighbors are lobbyists, journalists, congressmen, and senators and Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials. And don’t forget the bureaucrats — the unassuming man or woman down the block who has spent the last thirty years in the concrete box that is the Department of Health and Human Services or the Department of Education. The idea of abolishing the Education Department outright and shipping its functions back to states means a comfy career for your neighbor is now about to come to a screeching halt. This brings, shall we say, concern in concentrated form. 

This doesn’t even touch the more delicate areas of foreign policy, where a whole priesthood of think tankers, ex-office holders, and wanna-be office holders labor. How can these people and the world view they are so certain the new president is totally ignorant of ever get their foot in the door at the White House or State or the Pentagon?

Not to be forgotten? How can you actually report a story if you can’t develop good sources — because the new President has different ways of operating with his communications team? You can pound away at the new president’s image — and that of his staffers — but what if it doesn’t work in this instance? What if readers or viewers think you are the problem.

All of this and more is what creates the “tension” of which Newt Gingrich speaks in that Slate article. It is what underlies the hysterical reaction to Trump — that he is Hitler, a bigot, an idiot. That his voters are wannabe Nazis and white supremacists and generally speaking all around uneducated and unsophisticated rubes who think the Four Seasons are times of the year instead of a decent place to talk the intricacies of devaluing the yen while choosing between the A3 Wagyu Beef Tartare and the Siberian Caviar.

In sum? This is the real reason why the Washington Establishment fights. Once upon a time, when they were young, they came, they conquered — and then they stayed. And stayed. Growing fat and prosperous and ever so much more separated from the actual people they once upon a time were so passionate about representing.

It’s too bad. But the American people at this point in time have, safe to say, no sympathy with all of this. They are trying to get a job — and keep it. They have a mortgage, kids to educate — and in the case of the aging Baby Boomer generation, senior parents to care for.

Suffice to say, at this point after eight years of the Obama era that was supposedly about “hope and change” there are millions of Americans who have been left with little or no hope — and they damn well are determined to bring change. Big change.

Bravo to Speaker Gingrich for speaking truth to Washington Insider power.

And to hell with the Siberian Caviar.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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