Last week, I discussed what I consider to be both a revealing and embarrassing episode from Newt Gingrich’s tenure as Speaker in the House, which resulted in the House going without an official historian for a decade.
In short, Gingrich fired the long-time historian Ray Smock and replaced him with Christina Jeffrey, a conservative political scientist from Kennesaw State College who had worked with Gingrich at the school. But days later, Gingrich fired Jeffrey after Democrats publicized controversial comments from her past about the best way to teach the Holocaust to students.
Today, Jeffrey’s son, William Price, left a comment on the post, suggesting that my readers look at the opinion section of the Panama City News Herald “for a perspective on this whole affair that is written from a family member’s point of view.” In the section is a letter to the editor written by James that defends his mother and decries Gingrich’s treatment of her:
Newt called a press conference immediately to announce that he had no idea that anything existed in my mother’s “past” that would have brought such disgrace on the Republicans (sarcasm intended). He fired her eight days after taking the position by bravely ordering his staff to leave her a message on her answering machine, and we never heard from the man again.
When my mother asked Schumer why he said such ridiculous things about her, he kindly responded by saying that neither he, nor anyone else believed her to actually be an anti-Semite. They had mutual Jewish acquaintances. However, if “her people” refused to defend her, then so be it.
As you consider your next potential president, remember that character counts, and the best indicator of a man’s character is how he treats his friends and family.
Gingrich explains his decision to fire her this way: “She made in what should have been a confidential document a deliberate hyperbole to drive home a point about a program which many people agree was biased and prejudiced. However, taken out of context, that hyperbole was so unsustainable that the amount of effort we could have put into explaining it would have been drowned by the efforts of the Left, who at that moment were desperately seeking some way to destroy my speakership and stop the momentum of the House Republicans.
“Christina saw herself under attack, and she wanted her friends to stand up for her, and that’s legitimate on her part. But at the same time, she had never been through what a Washington firestorm is like once the full mechanisms of the Left are engaged. I don’t think she had any sense of just how vicious it could get.
“Now, our consideration was two-fold. First, in the end, was she likely to survive? And our feeling was, no. Second, we were likely to use so much capital over a job that, historically, either had not existed or had not been noticed. And it would have absurdly slowed down the momentum of the Contract [with America]. So as a practical matter, I wanted her to back out before she got smeared so bitterly, because she could never have recovered. Frankly, one of the most bitter decisions I had to make in the first months of the 104th Congress was this one.”
It not shocking that Bill Price isn’t supporting Gingrich. Even less shocking, his mother doesn’t appear to be on Team Newt either. In South Carolina, she was part of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) grassroots team.