NEWT: LIAR, LIAR; PANTS ON FIRE
Jon Christian Ryter
January 4, 2012
So desperate to win the GOP Florida primary as he began slipping in the polls, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich launched what is proving to be a false robocall triggered from information provided to Gingrich by Democratic New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Hikind is an Orthodox Jew—and a Gingrich supporter who gave Gingrich the fodder. Like many people who get part of the story right and embellish what they don't have, Hikind said what Romney did during the Massachusetts 2003 financial crisis was "insensitive." based on Jeffrey Goldstein, a now-retired head of a kosher nursing home in Massachusetts who was interviewed for a report by the Rupert Murdock-owned New York Post.
The Massachusetts legislature proposed a new spending bill in 2003 that contained a $600 thousand addition to the budget of the State's nursing homes. The money was not designated to provide kosher food for Holocaust victims. It was just general fund money.
But, that's not how Goldstein or Hikind saw it. Hikind said that Romney apparently thought, "...let them eat pork, or let them eat something else. If you're kosher, you're not eating anything else. It's just that simple. Why Romney didn't get it at that time is disappointing and quite shocking to me."
Without checking the facts Gingrich ran with it—and put his name on it as being approved by him. As Florida voters prepared for Tuesday, Jan. 31's vote, the voice mail message they received via robo-caller said, "As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney vetoed a bill paying for kosher food for our seniors in nursing homes. Holocaust survivors, for the first time, were forced to eat non-kosher, because Romney thought $5 was too much to pay for our grandparents to eat kosher. Where is Mitt Romney's compassion for our seniors?" First question: why did Gingrich run the robo-call smear? Because Florida has a very large Jewish population.
In a campaign stop in Pensacola where there is only a marginal Jewish population, Gingrich began beating the "you can't trust a Mormon" drum by saying: "...[as governor, Romney] imposed on Catholic hospitals provisions against their religious strictures. And Romney as governor eliminated kosher food from retired Jewish senior citizens on Medicaid, and he has no understanding of the importance of conscience and importance of religious liberty in this country."
First, there is no truth in the statement about Romney personally imposing anti-religious regulations on Catholic hospitals in Massachusetts (which is implied). Romney actually did the opposite.
Granted, he campaigned on a pro-choice platform, and could have obligated Catholic hospitals to provide patients with the "morning after" pill or other forms of birth control, or forced Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or have to fend off possible lawsuits. In point of fact, Romney—whose views on abortion changed rapidly after winning the job as governor—regularly exempted Catholic hospitals from dispensing birth control devices. However, a provision in a law enacted by the State legislature in the summer of 2005 clashed with an existing law allowing Romney to issue waivers, and he was advised by Paul Cote, his Health Commissioner that the new law, forcing hospitals to dispense contraceptive devises or birth control information, barred him from exempting Catholic hospitals. His hands were tied by the State Legislature. Of course, since it took me less than two minutes to find that information, Gingrich very likely knew that when he smeared Romney.
Now, back to denying Jewish Holocaust survivors $5 for a kosher meal. It's a bogus story, too. First, the decision to cut kosher meals was made by nursing home managers or owners for political purposes. During periods of austerity, cutting budgets becomes the rule of the day. Everyone does it. It's the "Law of the Pocket." When your pockets are empty, you prioritize spending. Usually the first adjustment you make in your home is meat loaf instead of roast beef, and navy beans and corn bread instead of southern-fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy. The nursing homes did the same thing. They substituted frozen kosher entrees for home-cooked kosher meals. The kosher Jews were never deprived of kosher meals.
During tight financial times in Massachusetts in 2002-2003 (which is likely why one of the ten most liberal States elected a moderate Republican), several nursing homes in the States weighed cutting costs by closing their kosher kitchens instead of making cuts in staffing or in other areas, and decided that it was a good business decision to close the kosher kitchens and use prepackaged kosher foods or, when they could, provide catered kosher meals (think of them as kosher carryout delivered to the nursing homes). It worked, and no "Holocaust Jews" were deprived of kosher meals.
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In addition, the liberal media in Massachusetts was only to happy to pass the "blame" to the Republican governor, inflaming the citizens of Massachusetts for Romney's refusing to spend five lousy bucks on a kosher meal for some holocaust survivors. They fanned the fire and built the sympathy needed for the State legislature to push an extra $600 thousand through. And, by the time the media, and the Democrats, got through with the spin, Romney appeared to have vetoed a bill to deny kosher food to holocaust survivors. And, you can bet Obama has a recording of the robocall to use this fall. Bet he keeps Newt's name on it. Had Newt Gingrich taken five more minutes to check, he would have learned what really happened to the holocaust survivors' kosher meals. But then, in this case, I expect he did vet the story, but the version in the robocall was just too good to pass up.
Remember this about Newt Gingrich— a man who will lie to the voters to win his job, won't hesitate to continue to lie—with even more egregious falsehoods—to keep the job, and to profit from it, once he gets elected. A man who will lie to win can't be trusted to govern.