Posts tagged ‘Dwight Eisenhower’


  Dwight D.


“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

                  —Dwight D. Eisenhower


Newt Gingrich

    Newt Gingrich

Newton Leroy Gingrich’s latest I’ll-say-anything-for-a-headline proclamation is really pretty weird. What he says is that in order to understand President Obama’s political activities you have to know that Obama is really acting according to Kenyan, not American, political practices.

Actually, I think that’s pretty dumb. I’ve read a lot on the subject, and I’ve been there myself, but I couldn’t tell you how Kenyan political practices are different from those of any number of other little countries that are trying to figure out just how their new democracy thing should work, and I really don’t think Gingrich could pass a test on it himself. I’m pretty sure that the real purpose of that press release was actually a somewhat slimy one. That is, his intention was to reinforce that preposterous Tea Party nonsensical claim that our president isn’t an American at all.

Their claim is that, in spite of the fact that the official records, the newspapers that record such things and those people, still alive, who were involved in any of those activities at the time say he is an American (and they all say the same thing), they’re all lying. This is, of course, pathological. There is definitely no truth to the Tea Party goons’ claim that Barack Obama wasn’t really born in Hawaii, a fully accredited state of the United States, but in some foreign country.

In spite of all the really unarguable amount of evidence that he was born exactly where and when he says he was, there are a lot of people who are going around claiming that Obama is a foreigner and thus his presidency is illegal under the Constitution and that the 2008 election that he won by such a smashing vote doesn’t count. My personal opinion is that most of them don’t really believe what they’re saying, because it’s just too ridiculous, but they hate Obama so much that they’ll say anything they think they can get away with.

And when I see Gingrich trying to lend credence to what he knows isn’t true, it makes me wonder who Gingrich is getting his political advice from these days, because I used to know one of his advisors pretty well.

You see, there was a time when I really thought that if politicians would get in the habit of reading science fiction for fun instead of sticking to, say, the shoot-’em-up Westerns preferred by Dwight Eisenhower, we’d have better government. But then along came Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and shot that speculation down in flames.

Gingrich liked science fiction. He took it seriously enough that he had a major sf writer, my good friend (and political foe) Jerry Pournelle, flying back and forth to Washington to advise him.

I don’t know exactly what the advice Jerry gave Gingrich was, but there was a lot of it — enough so that it used up a lot of Jerry’s time. Which had the result that Jerry was seriously late in delivering his part of a book that I also had a part in. And, as I wouldn’t get paid for my part until the whole thing, including Jerry’s part, was turned in, this caused me to get on Jerry’s case to get the damn thing done.

The advice couldn’t have been too bad, because Gingrich was flying high in those days. Some people were getting the feeling, in fact, that one day not too far in the future we might be looking ar a President Gingrich. Then, however, some of Gingrich’s political adversaries began digging up some of the, well, the nastier parts of Gingrich’s personal history and getting them published in the papers. And he retired from those heights in disgrace.

Well, if you dig deep enough in almost anyone’s past you’ll probably find something that he really wishes hadn’t come up. The Republicans proved that when, after spending $40 million of taxpayers’ money in the search, they finally unearthed Monica Lewinsky and thus stripped President Clinton of the power to act effectively for the last part of his presidential term.

But we’re a forgiving people, we Americans. Clinton is now most Americans’ best-loved living ex-president. Even Richard Nixon, the American president who avoided prison only because his successor gave him a full pardon, managed to raise his head after lying low for a while.

And, as we’ve seen, Gingrich is getting plenty of newspaper space and TV time for his political rebirth.

Apart from his (ick) politics, Gingrich didn’t seem to be a bad guy. He visited an occasional sf con and was pleasant to talk to on any nonpolitical subject. Indeed, if I was on my way by rocket to Mars and had to pick one other male as co-pilot of our rocket ship — and that other male had to be someone prominent in government — Gingrich might have been a possible contender.

At one con — I’m sorry to say I don’t remember which one (maybe one of you guys could tell me?) — both Gingrich and I happened to be present and the chairman got the idea of the two of us having a debate on some political subject.

So we did it. I don’t remember all that was said, but one of the subjects we agreed to disagree on was the heroic-sized U.S. defense budget. I said we could better use all that money for some peaceful pursuit, almost any peaceful pursuit. Newt said was I so ignorant that I didn’t know the world was full of enemies of America and we had to be ready to fight them whenever they might attack us? I said that throughout American history up to that point we had fought maybe eight or ten real wars, from the Revolution to WWII, and we hadn’t really been prepared — though our enemies were — for any one of them, but all the same we’d won them all. Newt said, aha, Fred, but you’re forgetting we had the might of the British Navy to protect us while we tooled up, and I said, right you are, Newt, but in at least two of those wars, the Revolution and the War of 1812, that mighty British Navy was on the other side and the side it was shooting at was us, and we licked them anyway.

So I marked that one a win for me. I don’t know how Gingrich scored it.