Okay, so let's take Newt's American 11 point-by-point.
First, you have to give him credit for personalizing the issues right out of the gate. He starts with calling his plan "11 Ways to Say: "We're Not Nancy Pelosi." So a potential voter doesn't really have to fully understand or research all of his rantings; the voter just has to know that he or she does not like Nancy Pelosi. Well-played, Newt.
Make English the Official Language of Government. Fair enough. But did you notice his subtle use of the term "elite media" to label opponents of what he says is basic American commonsense. Oh--and a note from an immigrant, why don't we mandate that US-born citizens pass an American history test in English, Newt? There are plenty of people who come to this country and study that little citizenship booklet back and forth and then pass with flying colors--in broken English. You're telling me if they're not fluent they can't be Americans? I met plenty of people from your own home state, Mr. Gingrich, born and raised on Georgian soil, who had what can only be termed an embryonic ability to communicate in modern standard American English. So let's be careful where we throw the blame for a dual-language society: is it immigrants per se or is it something else?
Control the Borders. Again, fair enough. It is incumbent on any nation to defend its borders. No argument here. But, again, does the narrative around this idea have to be so strident? Terrorism is not the real fear of those on the Right who want to control the border. It's (see point 1) immigrants. If that's the case, let's just be honest about it. But the notion that hundreds of Mohammed Attas are sailing across our border in inner tubes is asinine. It seems, from recent airline issues--and the ongoing practice of not screening airline or shipping cargo containers--that a terrorist driving into the US from Mexico is the least of our terrorism worries.
Keep God in the Pledge. This is classic Republican bullsh*t. Because keeping the word "God" in the pledge of allegiance somehow fixes all that ails us, right? Jimmy Swaggart said "God" all day but was as demented and immoral as someone could get. Rappers thank God all the time while they denigrate His female creations. Keeping the word "God" is not a solution; it's just good prose for rallying people who think "we wouldn't have all these problems if we had prayer in the schools" rather than saying, for those who are religious, "we wouldn't have all these problems if we had prayer IN THE HOME." Oh--and PS--did you forget that the pledge's author Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister who was also a chairman of a committee for the National Education Association, prepared the program for the public schools' quadricentennial celebration for Columbus Day in 1892. He structured this public school program around a flag raising ceremony and a flag salute. His original pledge read, 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and (to*) the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' He considered placing the word, 'equality,' in his Pledge, but knew that the state superintendents of education on his committee were against equality for women and African Americans. [ * 'to' added in October, 1892. ] NEA AND sans "Under God"?!! How's that for some rich irony, Newt baby?! (Thanks to PledgeQ&A.com)
Require a Voter ID Card. Riiight. Um, any little hamlets in Georgia where someone of a darker hue might not be able to get one, Newt? I went out to those rural areas with an African American friend when I lived there. We were NOT welcomed, and in fact, felt palpably scared by the vibe. And what will the card do? Prevent people from forging them? Let's stop focusing on all the supposed non-voters who manage to vote (one wonders how George Bush won in spite of all these illegals voting, doesn't one?), and rather on the 4-6 MILLION people whose votes were not counted in the last election.
Repeal the Death Tax, for Good. Whatever. This is such inside baseball, but so well-pegged by Righties as a "death tax" that the average American doesn't realize that it will never affect them unless they suddenly left, like, a million dollars to their heirs. Repeal it or don't; the only people who'll care are Paris Hilton, Bill Gates and Lindsey Lohan.
Restore Property Rights. Okay, one out of eleven. You've got me here, Newt.
Achieve Sustainable Energy Independence. From YOUR mouth, Newt, to Dick Cheney's ears!! Yeah, can you and your GOP cronies get on that for us? The whole "limiting our involvement in oil" movement? I anxiously await a progress report on that. This should be Point 1!
Control Spending and Balance the Budget. Great idea. Newt, you name "liberals" in this rant, but sweetie, YOUR President has increased government spending beyond the wildest dreams of any mere tax-and-spend liberal! Let's be honest: you're not about reducing government spending; you're about reducing government spending on programs you don't like. If it's to fund a war, then hell, yeah, let's spend it. If it's to fund kids getting free lunches, hell, no, that's a big government pork pie, isn't it?
Tie Education Funding to Teacher Accountability. Okay. Sure. Can we also tie parent complaints about teachers to some quantifiable metric of parental involvement in their child's life and education? For example (straight from a friend's actual teaching experience in one of the top three school districts in this country), if you buy your kid an SUV which that kid uses to drive himself and all his friends to Starbucks for lattes every morning, thereby making them all late to school, and you don't happen to think it's your job to make sure your kid arrives at school, on time and ready to learn, then you don't get to assess your kid's teacher's abilities. You get to reap the apathy for education that you sow.
Defend America From the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam. Can't argue with this. But we should also focus on defending America from the irreconcilable wings of all religious orthodoxies, from whichever religion their push to control local school boards and library book content may originate.
Focus on Iran and North Korea. "Any actions in Iraq need to be recast in terms of their impact on Iran. A weak America in Iraq will be unable to stop Iran. Stopping Iran is potentially literally a matter of life and death." Newt, you've got it backwards. America is weaker on Iran BECAUSE of our involvement in Iraq. We're behind the eight-ball in Iran BECAUSE of what we've wrought by our involvement in Iraq. We don't need to capture Bin Laden; we've created a hundred Bin Ladens by our flat-footed, clueless, and wholly-wrong-headed policy in that country. Our soldiers are fighting bravely and dying needlessly because of our policy in Iraq (and let us not forget Afghanistan). We're screwed on Iran BECAUSE we're in Iraq; we'll be lucky to have the resources to fight Iran, if necessary, BECAUSE they've been used and abused in Iraq.
Okay, so that's my Haggis Eleven, Newt. I'll see your response and raise you one Democratic Congress.