Oh, that Newt

Newton Leroy Gingrich

I try not to devote too much time to covering presidential politics, but they keep dragging me back in.

As the parent of two college students, I am well aware of the time, effort, and money involved by all parties in getting people through college. It’s important that students have a financial stake in their  education. I also recall a study a few years back that showed parents who had worked their way through college were more empathetic and financially helpful to their college-bound sons and daughters than were parents who had gotten an easy ride themselves. I saw this play out firsthand.

Well, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has something to say on this matter. (Actually, he has something to say on every matter. Hey, they don’t call him “Speaker” for nothing.)

It turns out that it’s not just those inner-city grade school slackers who won’t mop the floors that irritate Newt’s sensibilities. Now he’s taking on spoiled, lazy college kids. Why, back in the day, when he was studying white history at Tulane …

Oh, read it for yourself.

The Washington Post reports:

Asked about the high cost of college, Gingrich said that today’s students are being coddled, with luxury dorms and lavish extras, such as lobster nights in their dining halls. And he praised institutions such as the University of the Ozarks, which incorporate work into their financial aid programs.

“Students take fewer classes per semester. They take more years to get through. Why? Because they have free money,” Gingrich said. “I would tell students: ‘Get through as quick as you can. Borrow as little as you can. Have a part-time job.’ But that’s very different from the culture that has grown up in the last 20 years.”

Or maybe it is not so very different.

In a 1995 profile for Vanity Fair, author Gail Sheehy discovered that Gingrich financed his own education largely via the hard work of this then-wife. And when things got tight, finding a job was not high on his to-do list. Sheehy wrote that Gingrich turned first to his adoptive father for help, and then to his biological one:
Newt, who avoided Vietnam with student and marriage deferments, resisted taking a job. During his college years, Newt called up his father and stepmother to ask for financial help. His stepmother, Marcella McPherson, can still hear his exact words: “I do not want to go to work. I want all my time for my studies… Bob Gingrich told me he will not help me one bit. So I wondered, would you people help me?” Big Newt began sending him monthly checks.

Dolores Adamson, Gingrich’s district administrator from 1978 to 1983, remembers, “Jackie put him all the way through school. All the way through the PhD …. He didn’t work.”

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