"Massive, adulterous, hypocritical [temerity]."
That was my first thought* when I read JLfinch's rec-listed diary on Newt Gingrich's new proposal to scrap child labor laws and have kids as young as 9 work as janitors in schools.
(In retrospect, my first reaction should have been "this evil bastard has absolutely no moral compass and is dumber than a sack of hammers, yet this fat-headed moron is somehow what passes for an 'ideas man' in the GOP," but that came later for some reason.)
The reason I had such a reaction was that I remembered the first campaign I ever volunteered for, back when I was a 13 year-old kid in Cobb County, Georgia. I stood for hours each week at the corner of Johnson's Ferry Road and Roswell Road, holding up a yard sign on a picket for a guy named Michael Coles.
For those who don't know Georgia political history, Coles was the 6th district Democratic nominee in 1996, and the nominee to challenge Paul Coverdell for the US Senate in 1998. He was the founder of the Great American Cookie Company (God's gift to mall food courts everywhere), and a former paraplegic who regained the use of his legs and became a record-holding cyclist.
Well, faced with a self-funding challenger whose general humanity reminded everyone what a lecherous asshole our representative was, Newt did what Newt does, and went negative.
Here's the fun part:
Newt's negative campaign centered around an incident at a Great American Cookie Co. outlet, where (as I recall the story) a few employees had let their underage friends ride in a freight elevator. The store was cited for...wait for it...violating child labor laws.
Here's a New York Times report of one of the debates between Gingrich and Coles:
The two candidates exchanged accusations at a furious pace because the debate, in the studio of the public television station here, lasted only 30 minutes.
Mr. Gingrich repeatedly linked Mr. Coles to what he characterized as the Democratic Party's liberal leadership in the House, ridiculed him for refusing to announce his Presidential preference, and made much ado about a minor violation of child labor law that was committed by Mr. Coles's cookie company.
The attack included radio spots on local stations calling Coles "a liberal millionaire" and condemning him for violating child labor laws. It was the cornerstone of Newt's campaign against Coles.
Gingrich won the election, was almost immediately thereafter reprimanded by the House for ethics violations (the first such reprimand for a Speaker ever; he was also fined $300,000), was forced from the Speakership immediately after the 1998 elections, and announced his resignation from Congress before the year was out.
So remember, the GOP's "ideas man" is not only a raging hypocrite about sexual affairs, fiscal policy, and personal financial responsibility: he's also a full of it on putting kids to work. What was good enough to campaign on in 1996 is now "truly stupid."
Anyone wanna bet the press bothers to ask him about this flip-flop? Yeah, me neither.
* - My "first thought" used naughtier words, actually.