Newt Gingrich can’t be serious.
Of all the people in the world who ought to be wary of a federal government shutdown, it should be former House Speaker Gingrich, whose political career flamed out spectacularly after he orchestrated two federal shutdowns over a budget impasse with then-President Clinton.
In an essay published Monday, the co-host of CNN’s “Crossfire,” has urged House Republicans to stick to their guns and allow the federal government to close down in order to teach the president a (flawed) lesson about how democracy works.
“The left has sold itself on a false history of the 2012 election,” wrote Gingrich, who never recovered from the fallout after he admitted that a motivating factor behind the 1995 shutdown was a snub by President Clinton on Air Force One.
“According to the left, Obama won the election and therefore we should do whatever he wants,” Gingrich wrote. “This ignores that there was also an election for the ‘People’s House’ in 435 congressional districts, and the Republicans won. It also ignores the 63 million Americans who voted against his reelection and his agenda. Winning 52% does not mean he gets 100% of what he wants.”
What an ahistorical argument from the former history professor.
Gingrich conveniently forgets that Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, and that senators have continued to block the Republican-dominated House’s attempts to delay the implementation of Obamacare for a year, setting up a shutdown of many government functions and programs that could begin as early as Tuesday.
As House of Republicans are on the verge of forcing the nation to relive its disastrous shutdown, Gingrich has conveniently developed a case of historical amnesia.
“The worst possible outcome for the country from the impasse over the continuing resolution that would prevent a government shutdown would be for the House Republicans to cave,” wrote Gingrich on the CNN website. “This is a pivotal conflict that will define the relationship between Congress and the excutive branch for the next three years. The country will be much better off if Congress does not abdicate its constitutional role and if the president cannot ignore that role.”
Like so many Obamacare opponents, Gingrich seems to forget that the president’s signature healthcare law was passed in 2010 by both houses of Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which, last time I checked, is the way America safeguards its citizens from the tyranny of the majority.
Seventeen years ago, then-Speaker Gingrich had a moment of fleeting clarity as he tried to impose control on his conservative House colleagues who were urging him toward a shutdown. He reminded them that any successful budget plan had to also make it through the Senate, not just the House of Representatives.
"We've checked the Constitution," he said. “And for the rest of the session, there's going to be a Senate. We've checked! It's going to be there."
Yes, it was.
And, as a matter of historical fact, it still is.
Twitter: @robinabcarianCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times