Newt Gingrich's Advice

In today's Wall Street Journal, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich offers some new and unneeded advice to the Democratic Party. He says our presidential nominee, whichever is selected, will be "tainted" following a "divisive and delegitimatized" contest. Newt doesn't want delegates elected by voters in Florida and Michigan to be seated at the convention this coming August. And he doesn't like superdelegates either, suggesting that these long-time Democrats who work day in and day out for the party and working people are somehow illegitimate.

Newt says that "Democrats are caught in a double-bind: Disenfranchising the voters in Michigan and Florida while allowing party insiders to pick the party's nominee has all the makings of a Democratic civil war."

It's not surprising that Newt is interested in the Democratic presidential race, considering how most of the nation has more interest in the Clinton-Obama contest than in John McCain's eager but unconsummated embrace on the Republican side of the extreme right. But unlike most of us, who think the two Democratic finalists are engaged in one of the most memorable and dynamic campaigns in history, Newt thinks we've descended into "a slog."

Some slog. Democrats are proud of the campaign. We want a competition, not a coronation. Our leading candidates are offering clear choices and strong leadership to reverse the disastrous course that George W. Bush and his Republicans allies in Congress have set for our country.

There is more than a little irony in reading Newt Gingrich discussing concepts such as integrity, unity and legitimacy. They are not qualities he has championed in the past. Instead, his modus operandi has always been fostering division, sowing discontent and undermining the will of the people. His "Contract on America," which led to the Republican Party's on-going economic war against the middle class, should have defined him for all time.

So, of all the people in this world, I think the last one Democrats will listen to is Newt Gingrich.

Even on the merits, he's got it wrong. He suggests that the solution "for the integrity of the process, is a do-over. Hold the Michigan and Florida Democratic Primaries again." There is another solution, one that makes far more sense in terms of producing a legitimate outcome at the Democratic convention: Seat the delegates Florida and Michigan selected on primary day.

Senators Clinton and Obama, as well as former Senator Edwards -- complied with the rules and refrained from active campaigning in both states. Democrats in both states turned out and voted in huge numbers. They want a new direction for this country. We should make sure their vote is counted and that it counts for something.

I certainly hope Newt Gingrich doesn't take his advice seriously, because Democrats don't. If I were offering advice to Newt, it would be to spend more time rebuilding his own tattered party, rather than telling us how to run ours. He should try to get Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to make peace with John McCain. Now that's a civil war.