- Posted January 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
President Obama Should Hire Newt
In the wake of the latest national cliff hanger, our shared relief is tinged with a good amount of exasperation. We have again been caught in the crossfire of politics and endured yet another close call with impending disaster, or so we have been told.
Either way, the dysfunction of our governing process, characterized by sometimes rabid and destructive partisanship, should serve to unite all of us in at least one belief: we can’t go on like this. Whether the political class can ever respond to this bipartisan sentiment is an unknown, but it is up to President Obama to lead us toward some version of a functioning government.
How to do this? Radical change is called for, and it must begin with the elevation of pragmatism over politics. Bringing a moderate Republican like Chuck Hagel into the inner circle is a start, but Obama should push the limits further. He should assemble a modern-day team of rivals that challenges all conventional wisdom and diffuses the partisanship that has poisoned Washington.
He should hire Newt Gingrich
Before my fellow liberals disown me, let us first remind ourselves that we on the Left like to claim the moral high ground because we believe in placing the collective good of the country ahead of our own self-interests. Pragmatism takes precedence over partisanship, and with that in mind, we have an obligation to consider whatever options are available to shatter the most formidable obstacle to national progress: government inertia.
To put it mildly, I am one of many who have been viscerally displeased with the actions and beliefs of Speaker Gingrich through the decades, but that is now irrelevant. We are, after all, a nation of diverse perspectives and one in which no party has a monopoly on moral behavior. The pragmatic and realistic approach dictates that we put the best minds to work on the biggest problems. As a world-class wonk, Gingrich is poised to serve his country like never before, both in the public eye and behind the scenes.
As a special advisor to the President, Newt Gingrich could resume the work he began through his Center for Health Transformation by overseeing the nationwide standardization and migration of health records to digital formats. His network of public-private relationships is formidable and his vision for the future of health care on several fronts is worth serious consideration by all sides. With no political battles to wage, he can return to the policies that he has advocated in the past - those of developing comparative effectiveness research and implementing the health care mandate – approaches that are well-aligned with the current administration.
Perhaps more important are the behind-the-scenes benefits of a Gingrich-Obama collaboration. Many of us recall the days of mutual respect across party lines, whether it be between Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, or, to a lesser degree, Bill Clinton and Speaker Gingrich. In both cases, progress was made, compromise was reached, and legislation passed. Government, whether you liked it or not, worked, and the relatively collegial tone between sometimes bitter political rivals was one of the things that made our country great and powerful. Somehow, that statesmanship must be restored, and although the irony of it is historic, Newt Gingrich, with the direct personal experience of an opposition Speaker, may be just the person to help wind down the dynamic that elevated him to national prominence.
We also can’t underestimate the symbolism and example that will be set by such a dramatic breach of partisan barriers. President Obama would be laying claim to the moderate middle and establishing the groundwork to build alliances with other Republicans, many of whom are silently fed up with toeing an orthodox party line that has no tolerance for compromise.
For the Speaker, the inevitable price of serving his country by going to the “other side” would mean banishment from the Tea Party and other right wing orthodoxy. But the truth is, when it comes to our universal dissatisfaction with the workings of our government, there is no “other side”. At least on this issue, we are all on the same side, and this is exactly the type of bold move – one that is both pragmatic and symbolic - that can shift the conversation and begin the restoration of a functioning, competent government.