If Scrooge & the Grinch Had a Love Child …

If Ebeneezer Scrooge and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas had a love child who would it be?

Why, Newt Gingrich, of course!

Well, at least in demeanor, if not in actual appearance.  You may recall that old Ebeneezer was a man who thought eating too much was a wasteful sin and the former Speaker of the House doesn’t appear to have missed a meal since Congress tossed him out (OK, he resigned, but he didn’t have much choice) on ethics charges 12 years ago.

I’m not being mean here for the sake of being mean (as the actual Grinch would surely do).   But it’s hard not to make that comparison when it comes to Tiffany’s favorite customer as he’s taken poor children in America to task, suggesting that many of them are lazy, pampered freeloaders with no work ethic and no prospects.

Gingrich’s descent into Grinch-dom all started when he thought that instead of reforming our education system to give American children a better shot at a good future, we should put them to work scrubbing floors:

“What if they became assistant janitors and their jobs were to mop the floor and clean the bathroom? The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they’d have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”

And then, because I guess he just couldn’t help himself, he crept out even further on that Dickensian ledge:

“Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works, so they have no habit of showing up on Monday. … They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it is illegal.”

One thing Gingrich apparently doesn’t realize is that a lot of us who are doing well now started out poor.  Growing up on small family farm, I never thought that we were poor because we always had a roof over our heads and we never went hungry.  That fact probably should have occurred to me since my siblings and I didn’t see much of our parents –  they were both busy running the farm and working second jobs in town to make ends meet.  If his approach had been applied to me back then, I’m sure Newt would have envisioned a nice factory job for me, except that now I’d be unemployed because the few factories that provided jobs for the area either moved where labor was cheaper or were shut down altogether.

While I’ve had the luxury of making my living as a journalist, a lawyer, and now as a writer/pundit, I do know a little bit about hard work that I suspect Gingrich doesn’t.  I don’t know his whole life story, but I’m betting he hasn’t spent a lot of time baling hay, picking/canning/freezing food out of the garden all summer because that’s what’s going to be on the table all winter, or working three jobs at one time to put yourself through college (public, not private).  I did, so I can fill him in on some of the details, that is if he’s not off on another luxury cruise of the Greek islands.

I’m not the only one to make this Scrooge/Grinch connection.  And his decision to make his cold-hearted comments from his vantage point of “the one percent” right before the December holiday season ensures that this story line has legs.  If Gingrich and has campaign staff are wise, they’ll do something ASAP to change this perception before the January 3 Iowa caucuses.  Because in case he’s missed it, the people who turn out for the Iowa caucuses aren’t part of his “one percent.”  Those Midwest voters who get together every four years to kick-off the official presidential primary season know about hard lives and hard work. Many of them are farmers, like my parents, who will care little about that recent photo-op with Donald “let’s start The Apprentice for poor kids” Trump and who I’d bet were offended by those derisive jabs at schoolchildren, and by extension, their families.

I expect there won’t be any Secret Santa exchanges at the next GOP debate like our super busy Senators are doing.  And I have no expectation that his tiny little Grinch heart will grow three sizes any time soon.  I’m not sure if Cindy Lou Who or the Ghost of Christmas Future could set Gingrich straight.   But I know for a fact if Gingrich spent an hour with my dad — the hardest working farmer in the Northeast — he’d be singing a different tune about the values and expectations of those who will never be able to afford even the cheapest trinket at Tiffany’s.


  • Thank you for this post, Joanne! This is such an ugly stereotype perpetrated by Newt Gingrich and is just that — a stereotype. I would say it is a heck of a lot easier to make it on one job than be poor and have to work multiple jobs as is all too common today. Newt needs to get out more, if not, go to other places besides fancy restaurants and Tiffany’s.

  • Since school janitors are often union members, this would kill two Republican birds, no?

    Wasn’t Gingrich the one who suggested we take poor kids from their parents and place them in orphanages?

    What’s next, workhouses?

    Gingrich positions himself as (and is given some credit for being) a man of ideas. The problem is that few of them are particularly original. Most of them have been tried and declared failures in the past. Conservatives: always pining from some romantic, often mythical notion of the past.

  • Tamar

    He’s so wrong on so many counts — but one of the main things that struck me was his assumption that poor people don’t work. Poor people work and they work hard, often more than one job. They just don’t make much money.
    Even people on welfare work — studies have shown that in order to get by, recipients of government assistance find all kinds of cash-paid (but very low-paid) jobs to earn enough to survive.

  • He wants to get rid of the child labor laws so that inner city kids learn how to work? Where to start?

    1. Child labor laws save lives. Without them, sweatshops would pop up in our country.

    2. Children cannot speak for themselves and have no legal rights when it comes to workplace safety and fairness issues.

    3. Inner city kids need to learn how to work? I am sorry, but the problem is not that inner city people don’t know how to work. The problem is the lack of jobs, or the lack of jobs that provide a liveable wage. Many in the inner city work 2-3 jobs each just to put food on the table. And, despite what is the popular thoughts of the GOP, most on public assistance are not working the system. They don’t want to be on public assistance, but the system in which they are working does not provide many other options.

    4. He specifically states that inner city kids need to learn how to work. INNER CITY. If you are going to make statements about work ethic, why limit it to just one group? Honestly, all kids need a good work ethic. Upper class children need to be less entitled. The middle class is disappearing and those children need to have a good work ethic as well. Does this mean that we need to put these kids to work in schools as janitors or factory workers, or whatever? Of course not, but to limit such a statement to just inner city kids as if they are the only ones who need to develop skills and a work ethic is ludicrous.

    I am shocked that he is the front runner right now. But, give it time. His insane, off the cuff remarks will land him in hot water soon enough.

  • Lisa Bernstein

    So right on the button.

    Just watched a Christmas Carol last night. “Are there no workhouses, are there no prisons?” Seems like the US policy of building prisons to house poor men was a social policy then as well…

    Years ago Newt suggested that children who are living in poverty should be taken away from their parents and put in orphanages where they would be better educated and socialized into middle class values. I’ve been searching for the quote ever since

    This has been said elsewhere, but if you watch Its A Wonderful Life this year, it seems like Mister Potters’s bank won this year. I’m going to use that as a holiday dinner starter with my brother this year! Cheers to a great story!

  • SEO

    I think it is interesting how far candidates will go to put themselves up as good Samaritans. But I do not think the good Samaritan rule applies to candidates. Even Obama has sent out personal checks to help people out, but then look at what he does as president. I think it may be a better idea to avoid presidential candidates that are doing these types of things to get in the news. Why cant they just stick to what they say and what they are doing. This type of media pollutes what these people are really all about in my opinion.

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