When getting off base might have done him some good
By Jeff Ward For The Courier-News March 25, 2012 3:28PM
Updated: April 27, 2012 8:06AM
So this whole GOP presidential primary thing finally came down to Elgin. Somehow, I knew it would.
Well…that may be a bit of an exaggeration because, despite Newt Gingrich’s foray into the “The City in the Suburbs,” he certainly didn’t benefit from any “Elgin bump,” fading to fourth place behind Ron Paul in the Tuesday primary.
The man with the moon base plan appeared at Judson University March 15 in what was supposed to be an effort to engage Latino voters in a town hall meeting format. As we all know, the great city of Elgin is 40 percent Hispanic.
This quasi-presidential visit was fascinating on two levels. But before we go there, in view of Mr. Gingrich’s equally fascinating personal life, I want to absolve Judson from having to take any grief over hosting to a man who claims that working too hard always leads to cheating on your wife.
They simply provided the space and security which is a far cry from an implied endorsement. That said, if Judson ever does invite Newt to speak at their annual leadership conference, I’ll have a whole lot to say about that.
But back to what we might glean from the stop itself. Considering one of his infamous previous pronouncements, Newt certainly had to have a lot of nerve to pull this one off.
You see, if you believe a Mitt Romney Super Pac Florida radio ad, Gingrich referred to Spanish as, “The Language of the ghetto.”
The truth isn’t quite that bad. What Newt actually said in a 2007 speech to the National Federation of Republican Women was, “We should replace bilingual education with immersion in English so people learn the common language of the country and so they learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto.”
Though he never specifically referred to Spanish, unless African-Americans have collectively taken up French, we all knew what he meant.
Gingrich also claims that President Obama is “the food stamp president,” “certain people” lack a work ethic, union janitors should be replaced by children, and being bilingual poses “long term dangers to the fabric of our nation.”
So here we have a candidate clearly willing to play the race card supposedly coming here to engage minorities.
Even though we can’t ignore that blistering paradox, I was far more fascinated by the fact that a serious Republican contender had finally seen the light. Though this endeavor was likely borne of his distant third place status, instead of alienating them, a major GOP candidate was finally willing to reach out to Hispanic voters.
The last Republican to “get that” was the great Ronald Reagan who, back in 1980 said, “Latinos are Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” He correctly perceived our bilingual co-citizens represented the best of the core GOP Judeo-Christian values.
Hispanics are pro-family, pro-life, pro-education, and they harbor the kind of work ethic that puts most of us to shame. Just ask any Alabaman how their strongest-in-the-nation immigration law is working out for their tomato farmers. All those folks who were supposed to flock to those crop picking jobs didn’t, and the ones that did quit after just one day.
Now they’re talking about using prison labor. I certainly won’t be buying my blueberries from Alabama anytime soon.
Not only that, if it weren’t for our Latino brothers and sisters, like most first world nations, our population would be plummeting. It’s gotten so bad in Japan they’re literally closing down parts of the country. As it stands now, by 2042, Latinos will be the majority here.
But instead of sticking to his Hispanic game plan, Newt rambled on about having “big ideas,” balancing the budget, energy independence, and how the president who got Osama Bin Laden is appeasing terrorists.
At least is wasn’t as bad as Rick Santorum’s bizarre theory that Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as their official language before they could become a state. (Not to mention 90 percent of them already speak it.) Driving that kind of unnecessary wedge between the GOP and Latinos will cost him any chance at the White House.
As Dr. Phil likes to say, “How’s playing to your ever shrinking base working out for ya?”
So while it was amusing for Gingrich to grace us with his larger-than-life presence, I’m still waiting for that first major Republican to embrace Hispanic voters. If the Republican Party hopes to be relegated to something other than just the party of “no,” that’s exactly where their future lies.
Newt’s Elgin visit ideal was dead on. Too bad he didn’t have the you know what to pull it off.
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