Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was perhaps the most anti-Obama of the Republican 2012 candidates in his rhetoric, blasting the president as a “Saul Alinsky liberal,” and “the best food stamp president in American history.”
It didn’t work. Gingrich, who will officially announce next week he is leaving the race, won only two primaries, not only being defeated by Mitt Romney but also finishing well behind ex-Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
Gingrich no doubt lost because he struggled to raise money, stay on message, organize staff in key states or explain away his controversial record, from his divorces to his resignation from the speakership.
But his defeat also illustrated the limits of the strident, anti-Obama tone that many Republicans, most notably Tea Party activists, adopted in 2009. Unlike Romney, who argues the president is a good man who is simply ineffective in his job, Gingrich constantly went much further, casting Obama as opposed to religious freedom, unable to perform in a debate without a teleprompter and seeking to impose socialism on America.
Obama draws his policy vision from “Saul Alinksy, radical left-wingers and people who don’t like the classical America,” Gingrich memorably declared in January.
Gingrich’s fiery rhetoric appealed to Tea Party voters in some states, particularly South Carolina, where he notched a surprising win. And Santorum won 11 states with some of that same populist anger.
But ultimately, Republican voters opted against this approach. Romney won in spite of a series of moderate stands on issues in his past, most notably support for a health care mandate in Massachusetts only five years ago. Romney carefully stayed away from the anger of the Tea Party, rarely attacking Obama on anything other than policy issues.
The defeat of Gingrich and Santorum is perhaps the most obvious sign of the limits of the Tea Party. The movement did help galvanize Republicans against President Obama and win back the House for the GOP in 2010. And Romney has adopted many of its policy views, as he would look to drastically reduce spending and taxes if elected, as Tea Party activists have demanded.
At the same time, Romney is trying to move to the political center on issues like immigration reform, aware the views of conservative activists are often not reflective of the broader electorate.
Gingrich’s attempts to win the Tea Party vote may have a lasting negative impact on his political career. In 2009, he toured the country to tout education reform with the Rev. Al Sharpton, as both men were trying to establish their ability to look past partisanship on a key issue.
Now, Sharpton would now likely avoid appearing with Gingrich, who angered many in the black community, who said his food stamp remarks had a racial undertone.
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“Where do broken hearts go, can they find their way home, back to the open arms of a love that’s waiting there. And if somebody loves you-won’t they always love you. . .”
I am shocked. I am saddened. I was crying as I penned this column in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I feel as if I just lost a big sister, someone who has traveled on my life’s journey with me. Singer Whitney Houston is dead at the age of 48, just 3 years older than me, she was an icon of Gen X, and I have every 45, cassette and CD she ever made. Every single one of them.
As teenage black girls growing up in southern New Jersey in the 1980s, she was someone unimaginable to us: young, black, beautiful, from Newark, talented, energetic, and she possessed a voice like something out of Gabriel’s Angelic Choir in Heaven. She set a new standard for Gen X, she was our Diana Ross, our Billie Holiday. I keep listening to “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” my favorite Whitney Houston song of all time. How appropriate and how sad to listen to the lyrics of this song and see the images of her face so young, happy, and full of life flash across the screen.
Whitney’s death was tough news to take on an otherwise quiet, cold, snowy Saturday night in February here on the East Coast. I had just gotten off Twitter for the night to settle in by the warm fire to work on my second book about the power of human connection, and the need for those of us in this present generation who are so busy, so harried, so hurried, so worried, so disconnected to refocus our attention on what truly matters in life. God, who would have thought that Whitney Houston’s death, much like Soul Train founder Don Cornelius, and Michael Jackson’s deaths before her would prove so painfully my premise. Although we do not yet know the cause of death of Ms. Houston, we know this: She was troubled. She struggled with drug addiction, with depression, with career setbacks, a very public divorce and fall from entertainment royalty.
Unlike Don Cornelius who took his own life and was clearly battling depression, and Michael Jackson who arguably took his own life by consenting to the use of powerful prescription drugs to put himself to sleep routinely, Whitney Houston was seemingly on her way back up with the upcoming Sparkle movie, and rumors that she may even serve as a judge on one of the American Idol type shows. She looked well. But, I remember another songstress, Phyllis Hyman that I had occasion to see in concert at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington DC in the summer of 1994; she looked fabulous, her voice was great, she said she had just returned to church, given her life back to God, and was looking toward her future. Months later she died of an overdose.
Much will be written in the next days, weeks, and months about Whitney and we will all mourn her loss for years to come. Yet, what I wanted to impart to us all tonight is this: Stop. Look. Listen.. to those around you. People are hurting right in front of our very eyes, but we often turn away or we don’t want to be bothered. We are too busy after all. Tragically, we are losing the great ones and our very own loved ones to depression, sadness, suicide, isolation, drugs, brokenness, or worse. Folks, whether you believe in a Creator or not, whether you believe in an afterlife or not, one thing we all know for sure: We will all surely die. This is something we all must experience. Death comes as a thief, none of us knows the day or hour so we would be wise to live our lives fruitfully, faithfully, and fulfilled in whatever time we have.
My personal take away from yet another tragic loss of such a young gifted fellow human being is this: We need one another. We are all connected. We all need love. We all need support. We all need encouragement. And most of all we all need redemption, and second chances when we fail. We all need and want forgiveness when we err, and we want to trust again every time we are hurt. We want to love again and again and again. Sadly, we don’t. When we fail, or we get hurt; we often get stuck. We wallow in regret, guilt, and self-deprivation. The only way we survive the storms and shoals of our lives is through the grace of a loving God, the helping hands of good friends, and the loving hearts of our families. Thus, we should take greater care of what truly matter. Take care of what is truly precious. All we get to take with us is love, folks. That is it. None of the accolades, accomplishments, or money comes with us.
In the final analysis, Whitney Houston did it her way. She knew great heights, great success, great fame, great fortune, and great accolades. Yet, she also knew great pain, great humiliation, great sadness. Despite it all, she gave us a great gift in her unforgettable voice. May she rest in peace, may God bless her family especially her young daughter, and may we all pause truly for a moment to ask how we find our way back home, to what truly matters in our lives.
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Sophia A. Nelson contributes to The Washington Post, CNN Opinion, TheGrio.com, TheRoot.com, NPR, and is featured regularly on all of the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) as well as Cable outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and BET.
Actor and humanitarian George Clooney was taken into custody by the United States Secret Service in Washington DC. outside the Sudanese Embassy. Clooney was arrested while protesting the Sudanese government’s role in the country’s food crisis in the midst of the 22 years of civil war. That fighting has left 2.5 million dead and scores displaced. Clooney was placed in white plastic handcuffs by the Secret Service and taken into custody. The Secret Service patrols and protects foreign embassies in the District of Columbia. Ironically, some members of the Secret Service at the White House stood watch over Clooney for his protection Thursday while he was speaking with reporters outside of the West Wing about his just concluded meeting with President Barack Obama on the Sudan and his findings from his recent trip.
After the Thursday meeting, Clooney said the President is committed to the issue in various ways to include working the the United Nations and talking with China. The President is hopeful China could put pressure on the Sudanese to quell the warring which could in turn foster the humanitarian efforts. China currently gets 6 percent of its oil from the Sudan. China has in turn provided infrastructure to the Sudan and other African countries it purchases oil from. In a related note, Clooney was also at the White House Wednesday night as an invited guest for the State Dinner in honor of the British Prime Minister.
For the 35th straight month the United States unemployment rate has been above 8 percent and the White House wants to cut into that statistic by bringing jobs back to the America. President Obama Wednesday hosted a forum called Insourcing American jobs. President Obama is offering tax incentives to companies that bring their business back home. The overall unemployment rate is 8.5% and the black rate stands at 15.8 %. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed attended the event and discussed the impact on the black job market in Atlanta with the Presidents efforts.[vodpod id=Groupvideo.11378731&w=450&h=325&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]