While being interviewed on Fox News Sunday, potential Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich stuck to his criticisms of the Bush administration. When host Chris Wallace asked Gingrich about his comparison of Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush. Gingrich’s answer was, “Look, the functional effect in public opinion is about the same. Now, Republicans need to confront this reality. If you were at 28 percent, 29 percent, 30 percent approval, and if things aren’t working, and now you have a fight which splits your own party — and this immigration fight goes to the core of where we are.

If you read Peggy Noonan’s column last Friday, which was devastating — and I think it resonates with where the base of this party is right now. The base of this party is looking up going, “What are we in the middle of — why are we ramming through an omnibus Teddy Kennedy bill, and attacking Republicans who criticize it, and calling us,” for example, as one senator did, “bigots, when all we’re saying is this government couldn’t possibly implement this bill?” There’s no evidence at all that this government is capable of executing this,” Newt said. (I think Gingrich is correct on both counts here. There are many Republicans who, taking their cue from President Bush, are ignoring the fact that their party isn’t popular. Secondly, the immigration bill won’t work. It is bad policy that will tough to implement).

Gingrich was then asked what he thought was wrong with George W. Bush. “Look, I think that he means very, very well. I think he’s very, very sincere. But I don’t think that he drives implementation and looks at the reality in which he’s trying to implement things. And I think that’s why you ended up with, “Brownie, you’re doing a great job,” when it was obvious to the entire country at Katrina that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had collapsed and was not capable of doing any job at that point. And I think as a result, the administration has very, very high goals — Democracy throughout the Middle East — and very weak bureaucratic support for those goals, and the result is an enormous mismatch in just sheer implementation,” Gingrich replied.

Gingrich also said that this president doesn’t solve anything. “He doesn’t methodically insist on changing things. I mean, again, take the example last week. If somebody with tuberculosis, who is actually in the computer system, can’t be stopped at the border; if you have three terrorists in New Jersey who have been here illegally for 23 years — and the Senate, by the way, voted to sanction cities and counties not asking if you’re illegal, an amendment to this — what I think is an absolute disaster of immigration legislation — you have to look at that and say, “We’re not serious.””

The White House has dismissed his criticisms by insisting that Gingrich is only trying to stand out from the pack of 2008 presidential contenders. I think Newt’s biggest problem is that there is a large segment of his party that doesn’t want to hear bad news, or even entertain the thought that what he is saying might be true. The real oddity here is that Gingrich has been delivering some of the most truthful spot on criticism of this administration this side of Ron Paul or John Edwards. Rudy and Romney are too busy pretending to be conservatives to criticize the president. Hillary and Obama are riding the popular issue of the war, and not talking about the real failures behind the administration, and John McCain supports W. all the way. What kind of an odd election year is this when the sharpest criticism of a sitting president comes from his own party? To quote John Lennon, these are “Strange days, indeed.”

Full text of Gingrich interview

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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