The Tea Party Sinks Newt's Ship
The Tea Party Movement has not cooled nor has it been bagged. Like its namesake, it has only been steeping, and getting stronger. The powerful and unsympathetic response to Newt Gingrich's faux pas of last week is a sure sign that the Tea Party policy of zero tolerance, for anything even slightly-left of constitutional conservatism, is steaming hot.
Republican presidential candidate and former Clinton-era Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press, belittled Congressman Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" budget plan as "Right-wing social engineering." The response from the conservative base of the Republican party was swift and merciless. Newt has been skewered by virtually every conservative pundit and talk-show host as a traitor to the "Tea Party" values they believe will help to pull America out of its current economic and cultural pit.
A Zogby Poll of May 24, 2011 showed that support for Newt Gingrich had sunk to near-zero among Republican voters. This is an eye-opening development since only 3 weeks ago a state-by-state opinion poll had Gingrich in the 30s and 40s when placed in a hypothetical contest against Barak Obama. Newt has had his unpleasant baggage; extramarital affairs, a likability deficit, but it was not until he broke Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican," that he spiraled into popular oblivion.
There is more at work, however, than mere party disloyalty in the epic fail of Newt Gingrich. Newt did more than insult Paul Ryan's budget plan, he revealed his own tolerance for a certain amount of "big government," in the name of political expediency. The Tea Party is a puritanical movement, and will accept nothing less than full fidelity to the founding documents of the United States, and the ideas upon which they are based. Those are; government that is constrained by the Constitution to only its enumerated roles, such as the defense of borders and national interests, and the promotion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Ryan plan scales back government spending over time by decreasing, among other things, entitlement spending for people who will enter into the Medicare and Social Security programs in the next few years. "The Path to Prosperity" plan is designed to preserve traditional entitlement programs by bridling current and future budgets. This is the first step in a gradual return to smaller government. The Tea Party views this process in the long term, with the perspective that it cannot wait for some future implementation, but must begin now. Newt Gingrich equivocated the principles of Tea Party conservatism and has, himself, been bagged.Continued on the next page