GINGRICH SHOWS WHY HE'S A CONTENDER AND SANTORUM'S AN ALSO-RAN
See, this should work for Rick Santorum in his pursuit of the Republican nomination -- it's mean-spirited, it's sanctimonious and self-righteous. Problem is, it doesn't hit enough crazy-base pleasure centers. It's too amorphous, too general. It's not specific and vivid:
During a town hall meeting in Ottumwa, Iowa Friday afternoon, Rick Santorum argued that Americans receive too many government benefits and ought to "suffer" in the Christian tradition. If "you're lower income, you can qualify for Medicaid, you can qualify for food stamps, you can qualify for housing assistance," Santorum complained, before adding, "suffering is part of life and it's not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life."
How do you do it? This is how you do it:
Via POLITICO's Reid Epstein, Newt Gingrich tonight said at an address at Harvard that child work laws "entrap" poor children into poverty - and suggested that a better way to handle failing schools is to fire the janitors, hire the local students and let them get paid for upkeep.
The comment came in response to an undergrad's question about income equality during his talk at Harvard's Kennedy School.
"This is something that no liberal wants to deal with," Gingrich said. "Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.
"You say to somebody, you shouldn't go to work before you're what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I've tried for years to have a very simple model," he said. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising." ...
If you're a fan of far-right demagoguery, there's so much to admire here. Notice how the simple act of paying people to clean and maintain schools is now "bureaucratization." (Boo! Hiss!) Notice how the main enemy seems to be liberals -- and not just liberals, but eggheady, social-engineering-obsessed, bureaucratizing liberals (a class of people he demonizes at Harvard, no less) ... and yet Newt's attack also takes out evil broom-wielding union thugs.
But there's more. This is for the children. Making them clean the schools is good for them. This plays in the brains of wingnuts one of two ways: either (a) they imagine hoodlums and ruffians being kept off the streets by doing the sort of work they should just be consigned to at birth and forced to accept for life, or (b) they think this is how you save the underclass from a life of liberal dependency, by turning them into a sort of neckerchief-wearing Gingrich Youth, a cadre of Young Newtian Pioneers doing vigorous labor as a means of refuting the notion that the nation has gone flabby.
Or maybe these young toilers are meant to conjure up images of elderly GOP voters' hardy younger days, when it was routine to work three jobs after school and help Dad on the farm and walk two miles to the one-room schoolhouse in bare feet. (Never mind the fact that the aging teabaggers are far more likely these days to be of the Woodstock Generation in Medicaid-provided scooters.)
Newt's good at this stuff. He's earned his spot at the top.