August 8, 2008

In the 1990s, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich helped orchestrate a government shutdown, which helped make him something of a national villain. Soon after, Gingrich forced a second shutdown, and was blamed for that, too.

A few years later, Gingrich was forced from his post and resigned, but he continues to linger in DC, and has managed to convince his former colleagues that his advice has merit.

And as of this week, the former Speaker is talking openly about yet another government shutdown. (thanks to R.S. for the tip)

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) predicted Wednesday during the fourth day of Republican protests at the Capitol that Democrats would lose a potential government shutdown fight over offshore oil drilling.

The offshore drilling ban expires Sept. 30, and some conservatives have urged President Bush to threaten to veto any bill that extends it, including a routine stopgap spending bill keeping the government open.

“Are they really prepared to close the government in order to stop drilling?” Gingrich asked of Democrats. “I think the public would think they’re insane…. I don’t see how the Democrats could possibly sustain a suicidal strategy like that.”

And I really don’t see how the Republicans could listen to such a nut.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said a shutdown would backfire on Republicans.

“The Republicans haven’t had much luck with shutdowns in recent years, and I can’t imagine that this would be any different,” he said. “The American people want to see progress, they want to see comity, they want to see bipartisanship. They want to see some action, not shutdowns. I can’t imagine they would fare any better this time.”

Let me get this straight. Newt Gingrich, who was ousted because he was so ineffective in shaping the congressional Republicans’ strategy 10 years ago, wants to see congressional Republicans shut down the government a few months before an election, because Speaker Pelosi knows that expanded coastal drilling wouldn’t help consumers or improve our nation’s energy policy, and is prepared to wait until there’s a new president before negotiating a new national policy.

I’ll tell you what, House Republicans, take Newt’s advice. I dare you.

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