One big helping of pre-digested revisionist twaddle
By Anna Daniels
The lead business story in the February 26 Times of San Diego reports that Newt Gingrich has joined the strategic advisory board of San Diego-based Pathway Genomics Corp. The former Speaker of the House’s bona fides for this position are taken directly from Gingrich’s own site gingrichproductions.com or from countless other sites which uncritically regurgitate the same information:
…During his time in Congress, he helped save Medicare from bankruptcy, shepherded Food and Drug Administration reform to help the seriously ill and initiated a new focus on scientific research, prevention and wellness.
This engenders severe cognitive dissonance for those of us who were breathing and sentient during the Gingrich years. Gingrich’s claim that he helped save Medicare from bankruptcy garnered one pinnochio from the Washington Post.
Sounds like Gingrich came to the rescue during a red alert, right? Not exactly.
Congress has grown rather accustomed to dealing with looming Medicare deficits. As the Chicago Tribune reported, every Medicare Trustee report since 1970 has projected insolvency for the Part A program, sometimes within two years, other times within a generation.
If Gingrich “saved Medicare from bankruptcy,” so did every speaker of the House for the past 41 years.
It is also worth noting that his plan in 1995 to save Medicare was to destroy it– or as he put it–to let it “wither on the vine.” Gingrich wanted to save Medicare by privatizing it. The Republican party has never stopped the privatization effort of the defined benefit program which remains immensely popular with its conservative base. Vouchers anyone?
Gingrich’s ideas of Food and Drug Administration reform have also undergone scrutiny. Gingrich has described the FDA as “the leading job killer in America.” His idea of reform went beyond merely loosening regulations on new drug approvals and medical devices.
In all this we can see the real nature of the radical Republican strategy. The talk is of reforming Government. The real intention is to destroy many of its important functions.
Thus there are proposals to eliminate the F.D.A., replacing it with an industry-dominated agency; or to farm out the approval process to private bodies; or to let new drugs and medical devices be sold with a warning that they have not been approved.
The implication of Chris Jennewein’s article is that national figure Newt Gingrich is quite the “get” for San Diego biotech Pathway Genomics. There are other implications beyond the congratulatory back slapping. The article propels Gingrich a little further along on his legacy building tour. This makes the article much less anodyne.
Gingrich is clearly a legend in his own mind, but it is dangerous when the media uncritically cuts and pastes those thoughts into a piece of news and repeats them ad infinitum. The next thing you know, Gingrich will be trotted out as an elder statesman and all of the controversy, debate and memory will be consigned to remote corners of the blogosphere. That is how manufactured consent works. And Newt Leroy Gingrich will be thrilled by the accolades that he knows he so richly deserves.