Memo To: Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Gingrich & Farrakhan
I'm glad we could talk the other day about Min. Louis Farrakhan, which I think gave you a better perspective in his "Fox Sunday Morning" appearance that preceded yours. I think you can begin to see from his interview that he is going to be a bigger factor in the future and could, as Tony suggested, easily make common cause with the Christian Coalition. It is only a matter of time before the press corps will discover as I have that Farrakhan's standing with the black community has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with his standing as a Man of God. I suggest he is close to being recognized as the most important black man in the world and that it makes no sense for you and the Christian Coalition to misjudge him. The only reason he has not been able to make it clear that he is not anti-Semitic and bigoted is that the fundamental political forces in the U.S. have had a vested interest in demonizing him. That can only last so long. You know how easy it has been for political forces to wrap the anti-Semitic label around the necks of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan.
It is actually easier to defend Farrakhan against charges of being anti-Semitic than Buchanan because he has a clear record from the beginning of his ministry 42 years ago in celebrating Judaism, Christianity and Islam as the three great religions that grew out of God's revelation to Abraham. For Pat Buchanan, his Christianity has been all that matters. As you know, I've publicly defended Pat against charges of anti-Semitism and it is fine with me that his Catholicism is all that matters, but Farrakhan's ecumenical message is compelling. The Jews he criticizes are those who hide behind Judaism in pursuit of a political agenda that he believes comes at the expense of black Americans, and I can easily agree with him there. In the same way, you have to be careful on the tightrope that you walk on political behalf of Christian institutions. When Tony asked you why you would not include Farrakhan in your Baltimore summit on race, you did not look too comfortable in explaining that you prefer to work with black Christian ministers. I do recognize it is not your job to repair the public image of the Nation of Islam or Farrakhan, no matter how unjustly that image has been molded. The messenger of self-help has to do that himself, and he is trying just that with my help. The "Evans&Novak" and Tony Snow shows are just the beginning of the process. I have several other quieter projects underway with him designed to correct the conventional misperceptions of him. I really don't think that good can come out of evil, and what he is doing on behalf of black America is exceedingly good. If there is anyone who can bridge the racial divide from the black side of the divide it is Farrakhan. If you disagree, please tell me why I'm wrong. You know how I hate to be wrong.
On Gingrich, I'm afraid I'm not impressed enough with his speechmaking in China to believe he should stay on as Speaker. He was so politically and psychologically crippled by the mistakes he made in the 104th Congress — goaded by Bill Kristol & Co., by the way — that he is a walking time bomb for the country and the world. His new friends in the Democratic Party are toasting his wisdom in putting budget balance ahead of tax cuts, as this guarantees the GOP will continue in the tradition of Hoover instead of Reagan. He is being celebrated for making tough speeches on human rights in China by those Republicans who simply wish to pick a fight with China in order to build up our security forces. The AFL-CIO is cheered by the idea that he will now have to oppose MFN with China in order to fuel his newfound popularity. I'm afraid I see Newt so thoroughly neutered that he is forced to auction off pieces of himself to survive. He is forced to put his own hide ahead of the national interest. In many ways, President Clinton is in a similar situation, so damaged by the possibility of indictments and embarrassments involving campaign finance that he has to cave in to liberals on policy issues.
For the House Speaker to be effective, he has to be able to operate on principles having to do with right and wrong. When Newt announced his decision on taxes without discussing it with Trent Lott or Dick Armey, he did something so wrong that the only possible punishment is resignation from the leadership. No matter what you think you can squeeze out of a crippled Newt, Ralph, it will not be worth it in the end.