Gingrich hits a new low in his moral crusade
Speaker's blunder: Fury greets 'repulsive' attempt to link gruesome killings with debate over funding of the welfare system
Thursday 23 November 1995
Even by American standards the murders in Addison, Illinois, were horrific. Even by Washington standards the response of Newt Gingrich was a classic of expediency and bad taste.
Prosecutors said yesterday they would seek the death penalty for two men and a woman arrested at the weekend in connection with the murder of a pregnant woman and two of her children, aged eight and 10. All three were stabbed and the eight-year-old boy was tortured. The killers slashed the woman's abdomen open and cut the foetus from her womb. Police found the infant, a healthy boy, in the arms of the woman they arrested.
"She said she wanted a baby," said Joe Birkett, one of the prosecutors in the case. "If a fiction writer was asked to write the most horrible crime he could think of, he wouldn't come up with this."
On Tuesday Mr Gingrich, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, chose to see a moral in the story, a weapon in his battle with President Bill Clinton over Republican plans to slash welfare spending and ease taxes on the rich. "Let's talk about what the welfare state has created," he said, addressing Republican state governors in New Hampshire. "Let's talk about the moral decay of the world the left is defending." Then he talked about the murders. "This happened in America. It happened in America because for two generations we haven't had the guts to talk about right and wrong ...
"Now, a country which has this kind of thing going on - and this is not an isolated incident: there's barbarity after barbarity; there's brutality after brutality. And we shake our heads and say 'Well, what's going wrong?' What's going wrong is a welfare system which subsidised people for doing nothing; a criminal system which tolerated drug-dealers; an educational system which allows kids to not learn and which rewards tenured teachers who can't teach, while destroying poor children who it traps in the process with no hope. And then we end up with the final culmination of a drug- addicted underclass with no sense of humanity, no sense of civilisation, and no sense of the rules of life in which human beings respect each other."
Illinois Democrats were appalled. In a statement citing Mr Gingrich's "lack of moral compass", Barbara Guttman, executive director of the Illinois Democratic Party, said: "I am revolted that anyone would attempt to place blame on any segment of society for an act of such unspeakable brutality. To try to win political points at a time like this is repulsive."
Mr Gingrich, who struggles to understand why his poll ratings are so consistently negative, engaged in a similar exercise before last year's mid-term congressional elections.
He said that the case of Susan Smith, who drowned her two children in a lake, "vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things".
Then he declared: "The only way to get change is to vote Republican." It later emerged that Smith came from a staunchly Republican family.
- 1 Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
- 3 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 4 How to gain confidence and maximise your sexual potential
- 5 Chinese theme park sets up 'death simulator' where volunteers can experience being cremated
Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacks senior aide for 'slapping' a journalist behind him live on TV
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...