Gingrich: Obama needs to be more bipartisan

The former House speaker warns Obama "is in real danger of becoming Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan."

By Vincent Rossmeier

Published February 6, 2009 8:05PM (EST)

For those of you worried that President Obama might be wandering around distressed and frantic over his not having taken former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's opinions on the stimulus into consideration, have no fear: Gingrich is more than willing to tell the president what he thinks.

This morning, on NBC's "Today Show," Gingrich echoed a new Republican criticism of Obama, and claimed the president isn't being bipartisan enough in his handling of the stimulus debate. Gingrich's whole four and a half minute interview with host Matt Lauer (video below) is something of a marvel to watch. In addition to mentioning his own accomplishments as speaker, Gingrich repeatedly called on Obama to make bipartisan efforts that the president, in fact, has already made:

Gingrich: I think [Obama] is in real danger of becoming Jimmy Carter instead of Ronald Reagan. He's zigzagging, he's not accurate... What we got last night wasn't, let's reason together, let's sit down and negotiate. 

And then later in the interview:

Lauer: President Obama talks about "grave and immediate consequences" to the economy if this isn't passed sooner than later.

Gingrich: Well if it's that grave, and that immediate, why isn't he calling bipartisan leadership meetings in the White House to work out the details instead of making partisan speeches in front of a partisan audience attacking the people whose votes he's going to need?

Leave aside for the moment whether Gingrich is really the most appropriate person to be calling for bipartisanship -- Lauer barely challenged any of Gingrich's assertions. At no point in the interview did Lauer suggest that it was Republicans, rather than Obama and his fellow Democrats, who've been unwilling to compromise. Nor did Lauer ask Gingrich why Obama should be modeling his presidency on Reagan's. But the interview did conclude with Lauer discussing Gingrich's new film on Ronald Reagan, "Rendezvous with Destiny."

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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