Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and Time person of the year in 1995, spoke to a large audience at Colgate Memorial Chapel in Hamilton on March 26, casting a critical eye on the current administration and the current economic situation.
"The conversation we should have been having for two years that none of our politicans had the nerve to make [was]: If you can't afford to buy a house " said Gingrich, and he was met by enthusiastic applause. "I'll bet you know the second half."
Gingrich critiqued the economic system in the years leading to the current recession as unrealistic, artificially inflated and irresponsibly handled.
"It's like being in an airplane where the number-one proof that the pilot is okay is you haven't hit a mountain," he said.
Gingrich criticized Congress' reaction to million-dollar bonuses granted to executives at the repeatedly bailed out AIG.
"The Congress decided there were two futures: They could be lynched, or they could join the lynch mob," he said.
The House of Representatives' proposal to tax the bonuses was disconcerting, Gingrich said.
"A Congress which can take 90 percent from AIG can take 90 percent from you."
Gingrich said that the current media cycle and political environment hurts real political discourse.
"Nobody actually understands this -- because of the pace of modern media, nobody's allowed to think long enough to come up anything," he said. "If you start to come up with a clue, it is Twittered in 12 seconds, it is Facebooked in two minutes, it is on seven blogs in five minutes, Fox News picks it up in eight minutes, and within eight and a quarter minutes CNN has to have it because Fox has it, and then MSNBC has to be attacking it because otherwise it wouldn't be on Fox."
This is a major challenge for reasoned, political thought, Gingrich said.
Gingrich's lecture at Colgate was sponsored by the university's Center for Freedom and Western Civilization and the College Republicans.