Newt's Failed Dream and Military Fetish

  Newtie's failed dream:

Ultimately, though, it wasn't an issue of eligibility—Gingrich could have tried to enlist, draft or no—but of will. "Given everything I believe in, a large part of me thinks I should have gone over," Gingrich told Jane Mayer in 1985. "Part of the question I had to ask myself was what difference I would have made," adding that "there was a bigger battle in Congress than Vietnam." As Gingrich put it, "no one felt this was the battle-line on which freedom would live or die."

Avoiding the draft, Gingrich told Mayer, was "one of those things that will hang over me for the rest of my life." A few months later, he told the Washington Post, "Frankly I would not have made any difference in Vietnam but much more is what difference it would have made in me." Besides, he showed his mettle in other ways:

"Temporarily in the short run," Gingrich admits that Vietnam combat veterans in Congress have "the credential of personal courage." But he counters "What do you think it took to stand up on the House floor as a freshman to take on (the expulsion of) Rep. Charles Diggs?"

In the debate over the week-end he seemed to be claiming that because he grew up in a military family, he got to claim his father's service as his own. I think he truly does wish more than anything that he had gone to war. Now. After it was over.

In fairness to Newt, in terms of qualifications to be Commander in Chief by dint of interest and proximity to the warmaking decisions of the past decade, he's a top contender:

As a close advisor to the administration over the past six years, as an intimate of both Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Gingrich was a powerful advocate both for the idea of invading Iraq and for the botched way in which it was done.

Gingrich wasn’t merely a booster of the war and the manner in which it was conducted, said Kenneth Adelman, who like Gingrich was a member of the influential Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, which advises the Secretary of Defense. He was involved in the hands-on planning.

“Rumsfeld thought very highly of [Gingrich],” Adelman said. “There were times quite apart from the Defense Policy Board that he was called in to meet with Rumsfeld.” Adelman added that the Defense Secretary told him that Gingrich had gone down to the Central Command in Tampa, Fla., where the U.S. military directs its operations in the Middle East and “worked on war plans and proved very valuable.” (Asked for confirmation of the visit, Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler said, “All I can say is that he’s made many trips to CentCom … My guess is that’s right.”)

Gingrich used to like to talk about his influence at the Bush White House. In the beginning of the current administration, and especially after 9/11, when the president’s popularity was at a peak, Gingrich felt no compunction in freely discussing his new role back in the seat of power three years after leaving Congress. In November 2001, the New Yorker reported that Gingrich had been scheduled to meet with Cheney on Sept. 11 to discuss what Gingrich perceived as the president’s failure to properly communicate his message. Gingrich told the New Yorker at the time that he had “pretty remarkable access to all the senior leadership,” including Karen Hughes, Karl Rove and then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a former colleague whom Gingrich says he spoke with “routinely” in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

Most important, Gingrich met regularly with one old friend, Cheney, and advised another, Rumsfeld. But his influence was also felt in the former employees who had taken jobs throughout the administration. Notably, Bill Luti and William Bruner, who had served Gingrich as military affairs advisors during his days as speaker, were central figures in the Bush team’s politicization of intelligence. They worked for the infamous Office of Special Plans, the Department of Defense’s “stovepiping” operation that was responsible for much of the questionable intelligence on Iraq. Bruner himself was the handler for Ahmad Chalabi, the exiled Iraqi who provided much of the OSP’s most dubious data. Bruner and Luti worked with Elliott Abrams, the disgraced Iran-Contra figure whose redemption Gingrich had kick-started.

As war approached, Gingrich wasn’t just helping the Pentagon to plan the conflict. He often acted as a proxy for Iraq hawks. Media reports place Gingrich at the CIA, where, England’s Guardian newspaper reported, he was engaged in pressuring analysts on Iraq intelligence. Gingrich, who says he did go to Langley to discuss other intelligence matters at the request of then-CIA director George Tenet, denies the allegation.

“I never went down to Langley, before the war, on Iraq intelligence. I went down on other topics,” he said. “I thought, frankly, the argument for replacing Saddam was so overwhelming that it was silly to base it on weapons of mass destruction. And it never occurred to me that [intelligence on weapons of mass destruction] would be such a total mess.”

But as the administration geared up for war, Gingrich was striking a different note. In a paper written late in 2001 for the American Enterprise Institute, where he is a senior fellow, he asserted, “We are a serious nation, and the message should be simple if this is to be a serious war: Saddam will stop his efforts and close down all programs to create weapons of mass destruction.” On Oct. 31, 2002, he wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Times opposing proposed U.N. inspections of Iraq’s supposed WMD facilities; in it, he said, “President Bush and his administration have been abundantly clear why they believe Saddam must be replaced. They have convincingly argued that time is on the side of the Iraqi dictator, and that every day spent waiting is another day for him to expand his biological, chemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction program.” In a piece for USA Today on Oct. 16, 2002, he wrote, “The question is not, ‘Should we replace Saddam?’ The question is, ‘Should we wait until Saddam gives biological, chemical and nuclear weapons to terrorists?’ We should not wait until Saddam has the full capacity to create terror around the planet and is able to blackmail with nuclear weapons. Waiting is not an option.”

In fact, Gingrich’s seat on the Defense Policy Board put him at the heart of the administration faction that was pushing to wage war on Iraq. During two meetings little more than a week after 9/11, according to the New York Times, board members became convinced that Iraq should be the next target after the invasion of Afghanistan. Gingrich was quoted in that Times report, on Oct. 12, 2001, as saying, “If we don’t use this as the moment to replace Saddam after we replace the Taliban, we are setting the stage for disaster.”

When he was speaker he had a contingent of military aides, openly flouting the rules against military influence in politics. He is, in fact, a military fetishist

The problem for Newtie isn't that he dodged the draft --- they all did. The real problem for Newt is that he was allegedly against the war, a very big no-no, especially for him. This is what I don't think he can live with:

Despite his repeated written and spoken endorsements of the Vietnam war, several people who knew him at the time say he actually opposed it. Frank Gregorski, a Gingrich confidante since their days at West Georgia College, told PBS Gingrich "didn't want to be one of the sacrifices, one of the enlisted men that were sent to die for a stupid military leadership or a political leadership." Gingrich's adviser at Tulane, Pierre-Henri Laurent, told the New Yorker that the student he knew in New Orleans was "modestly anti-war." In a 1976 fundraising speech, Gingrich struck a tone that would feel at home in a Ron Paul stump speech: "The US cannot be the policeman of the world. When we tried that in Vietnam, they beat us up.

Newt really wanted to be a General in a glorious war. It fits perfectly with his personality. But he has always taken this defiant position that what he's doing is just as courageous as being on a battlefield and I expect that his sub-conscious knowledge that it's just not so is what has fueled him all these years. Poor Newt. A warrior hero forced to substitute words for bullets. He's certainly wounded more than a few of his enemies with them along the way, but I have a suspicion that isn't really enough for him.


Hullabaloo / By Digby | Sourced from

Posted at January 10, 2012, 3:06am

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