Friday, August 03, 2007

Gingrich calls war on terror "phony"

I'm not sure exactly what to say here. I found this story through Americablog, where the original source is from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Washington — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Thursday the Bush administration is waging a "phony war" on terrorism, warning that the country is losing ground against the kind of Islamic radicals who attacked the country on Sept. 11, 2001.

A more effective approach, said Gingrich, would begin with a national energy strategy aimed at weaning the country from its reliance on imported oil and some of the regimes that petro-dollars support.

"None of you should believe we are winning this war. There is no evidence that we are winning this war," the ex-Georgian told a group of about 300 students attending a conference for collegiate conservatives.


"We were in charge for six years," he said, referring to the period between 2001 and early 2007, when the GOP controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. "I don't think you can look and say that was a great success."

Thursday's National Conservative Student Conference was sponsored by the Young America's Foundation, a Herndon, Va.-based group founded in the 1960s as a political counterpoint to the left-leaning activists who coalesced around the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War.


"I believe we need to find leaders who are prepared to tell the truth ... about the failures of the performance of Republicans ... failed bureaucracies ... about how dangerous the world is," he said when asked what kind of Republican he would back for president.

I'm starting to wonder if Gingrich is positioning himself to become the next "white knight savior" of the Republican Party here. We've seen how Fred Thompson's non-campaign has been stumbling with its low fundraising and staff shake-ups. The Republican front-runners have not generated any excitement among the demoralized Republican voters, who have lately expressed a "None of the Above" vote in a July 18, 2007 AP-Ipsos poll. And of course, we still have an albatross of a Bush presidency dragging the Republican Party down. So what is new? How about a Newt Gingrich who professes to tell the truth on the issues, while quietly setting up his own political organization. According to the Journal-Constitution:

Gingrich has been promoting a weekly political newsletter he calls "Winning the Future." It's available free to those who leave their e-mail addresses at, one of several Web sites he is connected with or operating. Gingrich began writing the newsletter in April 2006, and it now goes out to 311,000 readers each week, said Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler.

At another Web site — — Gingrich is running a virtual political salon, with video clips, organizational information and contacts revolving around his conservative vision for the country's future. It asks supporters to join in an Internet "Solutions Day" on Sept. 27, the anniversary of Gingrich's so-called Contract With America, a slate of conservative policies he led through Congress as speaker of the House a decade and a half ago.

"What I'm trying to start is a new dialogue that is evidence-based," Gingrich said Thursday. "It doesn't start from the right wing, it doesn't start from the left wing," he said, but is an effort to get politicians and voters to "look honestly at the evidence of what isn't working and tell us how to change it."

Gingrich was interrupted with applause once, when he called for an end to the biting partisanship critics say has polarized national politics and paralyzed the workings of government.

"We have got to get past this partisan baloney, where I'm not allowed to say anything good about Hillary Clinton because 'I'm not a loyal Republican,' and she's not allowed to say anything good about me, or she's not a 'loyal' Democrat. What a stupid way to run a country."

He reserved his most pointed criticism for the administration's handling of the global campaign against terrorist groups.

"We've been engaged in a phony war," said Gingrich. "The only people who have been taking this seriously are the combat military."

His remarks seemed to reflect, in part, the findings of a National Intelligence Estimate made public last month.

In the estimate, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that six years of U.S. efforts to degrade the al-Qaida terrorist group had left the organization constrained but still potent, having "protected or regenerated" the capability to attack the United States in ways that have left the country "in a heightened threat environment."

"We have to take this seriously," said Gingrich.

So Gingrich has got his own virtual political salon and a newsletter out, from which he could spread his version of the political message to Republican voters. I'm guessing that Newt Gingrich is watching the GOP campaign very carefully, while trying to set himself up as a reality-based presidential candidate. Gingrich knows he's polling around fifth among the GOP candidates--behind Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and John McCain. With the Thompson non-campaign, and possibly the McCain campaign, currently floundering, this could provide an opening for Gingrich to declare his own candidacy.

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