It’s obviously too late to party like it’s 1999, but some folks may be voting for parties like it’s 1994 on Tuesday. That’s because political conditions today and the watershed year of 1994 dovetail in many ways, although, in other ways, they are about as compatible as the Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre these days (or Favre and a New York Jets sideline reporter, for that matter). Among the similarities in political climates is the fact that tea party voters and traditional values voters mirror each other on issues, says Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker who masterminded the Republicans' Contract with America six weeks before the first midterm election of President Bill Clinton’s presidency.
And two things that set them apart, on the eve of the midterm elections, are their anger about unemployment and their ire at President Barack Obama and his radical cadre of collaborators, Gingrich said during an interview with the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sun Sentinel. “The biggest difference clearly is the size of the unemployment problem. We have not had this depth of unemployment last this long since the 1930s. I think people are tired of excuses and tired of looking at 9.6 percent unemployment and 18 percent underemployment and being told somehow somebody is to blame but nothing's happening.
“And second, the alienation of the American people from the radicalism of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid on things like the Obama healthcare proposal and the stimulus and cap and trade has led to a reaction that has intensified the concern over the economy,” said Gingrich, who also noted similarities with and differences between the 1994 Contract with America and the recent Republican Pledge to America.
“Look, there are some similarities that I think are very positive. The pledge is a good idea . . . But I think this is a very different year. In 1994, people were willing to see political leaders stand up in front of the Capitol and offer a series of very specific things. This year, people are mad at the Capitol.”
Meanwhile, asked about speculation that he’ll run for president in 2012, Gingrich said he and his wife, Callista, “are certainly looking at it. We are certainly taking it very seriously and we'll make a decision late in the first quarter of 2011.”
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