Newt Gingrich may have a long legacy of activism on the right, but he has also enthusiastically endorsed a wide range of dubiously conservative positions over the years. In fact, it can occasionally be hard to distinguish his suggestions and views from those of President Obama.
Following are 19 quotations, some of which were said by Barack Obama, and some of which were said by Newt Gingrich. Not all of these ideas are as outlandish as the space colony that Newt mentioned this week in Florida, nor as radically conservative as making students work the janitors’ shifts; but some of them could certainly be mistaken for President Obama’s ideas. Click the blue buttons to reveal who said what.
NEWT OR OBAMA?
1. “Andy Stern, the head of the Service Employees International Union, is the union leader who probably best understands the challenge of the world market and the need to make American union members productive in the face of world competition.”
2. “We need comprehensive immigration reform, part of which would allow entrepreneurs and high-skill individuals to stay here, because we want to be attracting top talent here.”
3. “The United States will gain far more supporters and do far more good throughout Latin America by including [them] in the space program than it will by sending the same amount of money to any Latin American country in military aid.”
4. “[We should] make the U.S. a leader in the global effort to combat climate change by leading a new international global warming partnership.”
5. “I am a hawk, but I am a cheap hawk. . . . I don’t think the Pentagon should be any more exempt from reengineering, downsizing, and rethinking than any other part of the federal government.”
6. “In order to reach the space station, we will work with a growing array of private companies competing to make getting to space easier and more affordable. . . . The truth is, NASA has always relied on private industry to help design and build the vehicles that carry astronauts to space, from the Mercury capsule that carried John Glenn into orbit nearly 50 years ago, to the space shuttle Discovery.”
7. “America, as the world’s sole superpower, is obligated to provide environmental leadership at a time when so many world leaders are wringing their hands at the sheer enormity of the task.”
8. “President Bush’s failure to address the NAACP early in his presidency was a clear signal to the African American community that Republicans did not see them as worthy of engagement in dialogue.”
9. “It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy [Iraq] after June of 2003. We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it.”
10. “We live in a 21st century economy, but we still have a government organized for the 20th century. Our economy has fundamentally changed — as has the world — but our government, our agencies, have not. The needs of our citizens have fundamentally changed but their government has not. Instead, it’s often grown more complicated and sometimes more confusing.”
11. “We should have an amazing rail network in the United States, but we don’t . . . The United States has three corridors that are very susceptible to this kind of high-speed train investment. We could build a system between Boston and Washington; from Miami to Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville; and from San Diego to San Francisco.”
12. “Where I fault the [Bush] administration is, sometimes it would be so easy to just be simple and straight, okay? All they had to do is go to the American people and say, we want to make sure that if the National Security Agency picks up a foreign terrorist calling someone in the U.S., that they can listen to the call.”
13. “Throughout our history, there’s been a tension between those who’ve sought to conserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations, and those who have sought to profit from these resources. But this is a false choice. With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and preserve the environment for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.”
14. “There ought to be a tax break for trading in old cars that use a lot of petroleum and emit a lot of pollution. This would help the poor, help the environment, and help the auto industry.”
15. “Within a decade or less, solar energy may be able to compete with other sources of energy. A serious effort to fund solar research and development, on the scale of the World War II–era Manhattan project, would doubtless yield huge progress in the production and marketing of solar energy throughout the nation. Our federal government should take the lead on this vital issue, an effort that may require strong incentives to encourage enterprise and drive the formation of private-public economic partnerships.”
16. “I ran for office pledging to make our government leaner and smarter and more consumer-friendly. And from the moment I got here, I saw up close what many of you know to be true: The government we have is not the government that we need.”
17. “I am prepared to advocate the size of tax credit that the electric-utility industry and General Electric [ask for, if they] walk in and say, ‘If you did X, we would do it.’”
18. “And as we seek to ensure that [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] continue to perform what is a vital function on behalf of middle-class families, we also need to maintain transparency and strong oversight so that they do so in responsible and effective ways.”
19. “Clever marketing will be necessary to encourage best environmental practices by American citizens . . . We must be willing to deploy our best and brightest marketing geniuses to drive citizen participation and responsible, mainstream environmental activism. Fellowships to provide graduate-level training in social marketing are a good place to start.”
— Patrick Brennan is the 2011 William F. Buckley Fellow at National Review.