Former Congressional Staffer Explains How Gingrich Radicalized The GOP

Former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren from this Sunday's Q&A on C-SPAN explains just how toxic Newt Gingrich has been to Republican party politics.
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From C-SPAN's Sunday night feature, Q&A, host Brian Lamb sat down with former congressional staffer Mike Lofgren to discuss his book, The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. Lofgren was asked what initially drove him away from the Republican party, and he didn't have any kind words for Newt Gingrich and what he's done to Republican politics.

LAMB: Was there a point back some years ago where you just, yourself flipped on the Republican party? Something that pushed you away from being a Republican?

LOFGREN: Well, it was a gradual journey. I think the first three years of Newt Gingrich's speakership had a lot of people scratching their heads.

LAMB: Why?

LOFGREN: He was a very mercurial leader. Whoever talked to him last had his total support. It was a sort of chaotic time of a lot of movement and not necessarily progress. He pretty much did his best to destroy the old committee system and the expertise that lies in committees and he tried to centralize everything in the speaker's office. And when you dumb down congress as he did by abolishing the Office of Technology Assessment, of cutting at the time, it was called the General Accounting Office, now the Government Accountability Office – these are support arms of congress that give intelligence in both the factual and the cognitive sense.

Lamb showed some old footage from NBC News from 1994 with Tom Brokaw and Andrea Mitchell reporting on Gingrich and a meeting he had with lobbyists, where he called Democrats "the enemy of normal Americans" and promising that if his party won control of the congress, they were going to spend the next two years investigating the Clinton administration. Lamb asked him what's happened since then and here's his response.

LOFGREN: That sort of mentality has infected the political process and now it's become standard operating procedure. It's sort of ironic and counter-intuitive, where you are weak, that is where you would attack your opponents. People who are ethically weak, attacking others ethics.


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Twenty years later and we still can't get that son of a bitch Gingrich off of our television screens spewing the same bile. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

You can watch the entire hour here: Q&A with Mike Lofgren.

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