Book Report: Quotations from Speaker Newt
edited by Amy D. Bernstein and Peter W. Bernstein (1995)

I bought this book from the Bridgeton Trails branch of the St. Louis County Library for a quarter because I am a good Republicanesque fellow who remembers fondly the Contract with America and the disbelief of a Republican House of Representatives occurring for the first time in my lifetime.

The book collects and groups a number of contextless quotes and bon mots that Newt Gingrich said or wrote in any number of forums, including his own books. By his own admission, Gingrich decided early to run for Congress and to do whatever it took to put the Republicans in power. That admission makes the choice of quotes interesting. Gingrich defending Social Security and shrieking that Bill Clinton wanted to reform it. Newt saying on the same day that Panetta was a scoundrel and that Gingrich could work with him. Newt Gingrich in 1984 attacking someone juxtaposed with Newt Gingrich in 1994 loving that person. I agreed with Gingrich on some of his positions as neatly encapsulated in these sentences, but I disagreed with him on many points, including the politically expedient (at the time) defense of social security from a Chief Executive who would ravage it.

As such, the book doesn’t really build Gingrich up, but perhaps that’s not the point. The treatment’s even enough, and although it doesn’t leave me witha complete view of Gingrich’s thinking, it does make him more resemble a politician than a visionary.

But that’s what you’d expect from a book that’s just a collection of soundbites.