[Marxism] The Clinton-Gingrich connection

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri May 13 09:26:10 MDT 2005


Oddly, Hillary and, Yes, Newt Agree to Agree
By RAYMOND HERNANDEZ
Published: May 13, 2005

WASHINGTON, May 12 - What do Newt Gingrich and Hillary Rodham Clinton want 
from each other?

In the 1990's, these two rivals stood on nearly opposite ends of the 
political spectrum; he led the assault on the Clinton presidency and helped 
derail the ambitious health care plan she championed.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Newt Gingrich at a press conference on 
Wednesday. They have become a political odd couple lately.

But oddly enough, something has changed since then, and it has people talking.

Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, has been working alongside the 
former first lady on a number of issues, and even appeared with her at a 
press conference on Wednesday to promote - of all things - health-care 
legislation.

But more puzzling than that, Mr. Gingrich has been talking up Mrs. 
Clinton's presidential prospects in 2008, to the chagrin of conservative 
loyalists who once regarded him as a heroic figure. Last month, he even 
suggested she might capture the presidency, saying "any Republican who 
thinks she's going to be easy to beat has a total amnesia about the history 
of the Clintons."

What gives?

For Ms. Clinton, standing side by side with her husband's onetime nemesis 
gives her the chance to burnish her credentials among the moderates she has 
been courting during her time in the Senate.

But in comments this week, she portrayed the rapprochement as one born of 
shared policy interests, not calculated politics.

"I know it's a bit of an odd-fellow, or odd-woman, mix," she said. "But the 
speaker and I have been talking about health care and national security now 
for several years, and I find that he and I have a lot in common in the way 
we see the problem."

For his part, Mr. Gingrich, who helped lead the impeachment fight against 
President Bill Clinton, called Mrs. Clinton "very practical" and "very 
smart and very hard working," adding, "I have been very struck working with 
her."

The Clinton-Gingrich connection comes as Mrs. Clinton has increasingly 
staked out moderate positions in several areas. She has recently promoted a 
more gradual approach to guaranteeing health care for more Americans, a 
departure from her efforts in the 1990's, when Republican critics like Mr. 
Gingrich accused her of advocating a big-government takeover of the health 
care system.

Her recent views on the subject struck a chord with Mr. Gingrich, she recalled.

"Newt Gingrich called and said, 'You're absolutely right,' " Mrs. Clinton said.

As it turns out, Mr. Gingrich and Mrs. Clinton have a lot more in common 
now that they have left behind the politics of the 1990's, when she was a 
symbol of the liberal excesses of the Clinton White House and he was a 
fiery spokesman for a resurgent conservative movement in Washington.

Beyond the issue of health care, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Gingrich have forged 
a relatively close relationship working on a panel the Pentagon created to 
come up with ways to improve the nation's military readiness, according to 
people close to them.

Mr. Gingrich says he has been struck by how pro-defense Mrs. Clinton has 
turned out to be at a time when other Democrats have criticized President 
Bush's decision to go to war against Iraq. He chalked that up to her 
experience in the White House, where her husband, as commander in chief, 
had to deal with grave national security matters.

"Unlike most members of the legislature, she has been in the White House," 
he said. "She's been consistently solid on the need to do the right thing 
on national defense."

It was, in fact, during one of the defense panel's meetings in Norfolk that 
Mr. Gingrich suggested to her that they join efforts to push legislation on 
an area of mutual concern: the need to spur greater online exchanges of 
medical information among patients, doctors, health insurers and other 
medical experts. That, in turn, led to the press conference that both 
attended this week.

For all the headlines this unlikely duo is grabbing now, the thaw in their 
relationship dates back at least to December 2003, when Mr. Gingrich showed 
up on "Meet the Press," right after Mrs. Clinton had made an appearance of 
her own, and predicted that she had what it took to be the Democratic 
nominee for president - a comment that was noticed inside Mrs. Clinton's 
inner circle.

On Thursday, he reiterated his belief that she will be a formidable 
challenger if she decides to run for the presidency in 2008. "Any 
Republican who thinks she's going to be easy to beat in 2008 really 
misunderstands the Clintons."

Exactly why Mr. Gingrich has been so effusive about Mrs. Clinton is an open 
question. He says he has been impressed by the job she has done since 
becoming a senator.

But others say that he gains as much politically as she does by sharing a 
stage with her, at a time when he is said to be mulling over the 
possibility of running for the presidency in 2008

"It's mutually beneficial," said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist. 
"He gets to appear to be a mainstream figure and she gets to appear as 
someone who is willing to work with everyone, no matter their ideology."

But Mr. Gingrich may end up paying a price politically for engaging in what 
many conservatives regard as heresy. "He is trying to change his image into 
a softer and more gentle Newt," said Michael Long, the chairman of the New 
York State Conservative Party. "That is a major mistake on his part."

Patrick D. Healy contributed reporting for this article.

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