I took advantage of a rare opportunity yesterday. I went to hear Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House) speak at the Capitol Music Hall. As I approached the venue, there was a lone protester across the street with a sign that read
"Newt, where's your wife? ... FAMILY VALUES"
The sign was mangy, very ghetto and appeared hastily written. I gave the man a brief thumbs down and headed in. I had to sign in so I used my alias Eric Stone and my neighbor's address. I hope he gets plenty of teabagger-oriented direct mail in the future.
What was reported as a crowd of over 1,200 looked like about 700 tops. The crowd was overwhelmingly old and white. Not much of a minority presence but I honestly wasn't expecting that to be the case. I quietly took a seat on the right side. I couldn't help but notice an armed presence on both sides of the stage. 3 cops were on hand and several were outside milling in the lobby. The 3 cops directly in front kind of reminded me of The Doors movie when Jim Morrison's on stage and he harasses them. Rest assured, I had no plans to tar and feather Newt (Benny Hinn style) or even resort to the age-old "pie in the face" routine.
I must say, Newt is an incredibly gifted speaker. The speech itself centered around 5 main themes - be true to yourself, dream big, get an education, blah... Do you get the drift? Have you garnered my inference? I will say one thing though. At least he adapted the speech to fit the citizens and challenges of the Ohio Valley. And he did a very effective job. His biggest applause lines came when he railed against Hollywood and the 9th circuit. However, he did put forth an incredibly effective slogan -
Basically, it's a call for personal and governmental fiscal responsibility and accountability. The idea being, that if it doesn't sound right, it won't ad up. This would make a tremendous campaign theme for the Republicans in 2010. I would not be surprised if we see it in the future. The Republicans need a more resonant message than the endless, wuss-sounding homoerotic teabag refrain. Teabag? Just sounds plain weird and kind of has this elitist European twang. If I were a corpulent Republican 7th Day Adventist conservative running for office in the deep south, here's the slogan I would use...
It's simple, powerful and sets a good framework for delivering a message of fiscal sanity in the wake of massive government spending. A prominent Republican, maybe a John Boehner (R-OH), should latch onto this. I'll never be a Republican spokesman, but trust me on this one.
Back to Newt's speech... He really is a gifted orator. I can see why the Republicans rallied around him in the early Clinton years. At the end of the speech, he took about 5 or 6 questions. I was really tempted to address him but chickened out. I was going to ask either of these 2 questions.
Mr. Ex-Speaker, during your speech you stressed the importance of science and education. The Republican party appears to be very anti-science these days, particularly regarding the theory of evolution. As a former professor and scholar, and having a major leadership role in the Republican party, how would resolve this inconsistency?
My other question which I really liked was...
Mr. Ex-Speaker, as an observer of the Georgia political scene, shortly after 9/11 in 2002, I followed the defeat of Max Clelland (D) to current Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss (R). It was regarded as one of the nastiest campaigns in U.S. history. Clelland was a triple amputee Vietnam veteran. Chambliss got repeated draft deferments during Vietnam because of his "bad knee." Chambliss' prominent tv ad implied that Clelland was a Bin Laden sympathizer and Al Quada supporter because he voted against a funding measure for the Department of Homeland Security. Do you think these political ads were reasonable and/or justified?
I would loved to see how the crowd responded to either of these. I wonder how many in the crowd would have known what the hell I'm talking about in regard to the 2nd question. I'm guessing about 5-10%, possibly more. I should have made my way to the front. I just seem to lack "balls" these days - I think it's called testicular fortitude. However, I am going to see Pearl Jam in Philly at the end of the month. That requires a minimal amount of passion.
All in all, I came away from Newt's speech with a better understanding and appreciation of the guy. If the Republican party wishes a a return to power, they should follow his lead. But they'll probably stick with the hot-button issues - abortion, guns and anything anti-gay. Anything that enrages and rallies the base. A word of advice for any Republican running for national office. Put the bible away for a year or so. Use a hand held calculator as a prop instead. And focus more on Congress cuz against Obama you got NO CHANCE.