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No more government checks for Gingrich

By Roland S. Martin, Special to CNN
  • Roland Martin says Newt Gingrich's open letter to Republicans is shameless
  • Martin says Gingrich way off base raising food stamp issue during harsh economy
  • Gingrich was happy to partake at government trough as House speaker, he says
  • Martin urges voters not to let Gingrich have another chance at government paycheck

Editor's note: Roland S. Martin, a CNN political analyst, is a syndicated columnist and author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith," and "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable Network and host of a Sunday morning news show.

(CNN) -- Newt Gingrich has always been seen as a visionary in politics, whether from those on the right who love him or those on the left who loath him.

The former speaker of the House of Representatives and the chief architect of the "Contract with America," a document that helped usher in a Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, is a war buff and is always plotting and planning battle plans.

Like any good general, he studies his opposition, looking for weaknesses so they could be toppled and he can declare victory. But Gingrich's latest salvo in crafting a plan to attack Democrats on the way to a Republican victory in November is so shameless and pathetic, he should be embarrassed for even suggesting it.

In a 673-word open letter to Republican candidates, Gingrich implored GOP candidates to develop a closing message that is solely built around the economy.

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In it, he wrote the following: "It is an unassailable fact that in June, more food stamps were distributed by the government than ever before in American history. (It turns out that Barack Obama's idea of spreading the wealth around was spreading more food stamps around.)"

He later added, "You can use this vivid contrast between the record of the Pelosi-Reid Democratic Congress and the last time the Republican Party took control of Congress to powerfully illustrate the difference for every American between the Democratic Party of food stamps and the Republican Party of paychecks."

What is so amazing is that Gingrich offers an analysis contrasting the state of the country when Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, and today, when Democrats are running the show. Anyone with half a brain should crack up laughing at:

-- How Gingrich managed to skip over how a budget surplus left by President Clinton in 2000 became a deficit under President George W. Bush.

-- Outrageous spending by Republicans who ran Congress under Bush.

-- The massive financial deregulation that was pushed by Democrats and Republicans alike.

-- And the terrible state of the economy that precipitated bank bailouts under Bush and continued stimulus under Obama.

For guys like Gingrich, those are measly details that need not be mentioned. But we all know that you can't discuss today's economy without asking the most important question, "How in the hell did we get here?"

It is always in the interest of politicians to paint a wonderful picture of themselves while ignoring all of the devilish and horrible things they or their parties did, but this notion of painting Democrats as the party of food stamps is atrocious and flat-out wrong.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is right when she assails Gingrich as wanting to exploit class warfare in this country. But the Democratic House leader shouldn't be the only one who is speaking out against Gingrich. Republicans with constituents in their districts who have had to ask for food stamps should also be saying, "Hey man, you're talking about my people!"

I don't know of anyone who really wants and desires to have to apply for food stamps. Liberals, conservatives, independents, Democrats and Republicans all want jobs. Wanting a paycheck isn't a conservative value, nor is it the sole province of liberals. Every one of us would like to be paid for our services, and it cheapens the political dialogue to see a so-called smart man deploy such a childish game plan.

Maybe part of the problem is that while Gingrich complains about hard working Americans having to apply for government food stamps, he spent 20 years at the federal government trough picking up a government check for his work, as a member of Congress.

So while he assails those who have been forced to ask for food stamps, he happily collected his six-figure government check, which has paved the way for him to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in book deals, speeches and consulting gigs.

See, that's how it's done. A former government worker telling wannabe government workers what they need to do in order to begin picking up their own version of food stamps.

If this is the kind of vision Gingrich has for America, none of us should desire to see him on anyone's ballot. He has the nerve to question President Obama's values?

Newt, anyone who is so crass as to want to capitalize on the misfortune of Americans in one of the most difficult economic times we've seen in generations doesn't deserve to want to represent those same individuals.

Now or in the future.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.