Happy Birthday, Newt! (and me)
Jude Wanniski
June 17, 1998


Memo To: Newt Gingrich
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Gemini Twins

I’m sure out of the many thousands of people I’ve met in my life that several were born on June 17, but you are the only one I know for sure who shares that birthday with me. It is another coincidence that we were both born in central Pennsylvania, you in Harrisburg in 1943 -- which makes you 55 today, me in Pottsville in 1936, which makes me 62. I was born in Pottsville Hospital, not more than 35 miles away, as the crow flies. I usually give my birth place as Minersville, the little town outside Pottsville where my parents were married nine months and two weeks before I was born. You can assume I was the oldest! For some reason we also share an interest in dinosaurs, although yours is more intense than mine, which was prompted by seeing the Disney movie, "Fantasia," when I was about four.  If I recall, your favorite, though is Tyrannosaurus Rex, which mastered its universe through sheer force, while I liked diplodocus, which had a long neck, small head and brain, and had to survive through diplomacy.

Remember our first contact? I was still at The Wall Street Journal editorial page in 1978, when you were making your third try for a seat in the House of Representatives from Georgia. In your first two attempts, in 1974 and 1976, you ran as a liberal “Rockefeller” Republican and lost, but finally made it when you ran as a supply-sider, backing the Kemp-Roth tax cut legislation that finally became law when Reagan was elected two years later. I remember you sending me a letter with a campaign brochure sometime in the spring of 1978, asking my opinion. My guess is that Kemp-Roth helped put you over the top, as it helped identify you as a different kind of Republican. You may have won anyway, out of sheer persistence, but I always liked to think my role in developing the supply-side wing of the GOP and Kemp-Roth was important in preventing you from being a three-time loser. In the years since, you have been a stalwart in the supply-side ranks, one of Jack Kemp’s closest friends, a hero to supply-siders in 1990 when you led the GOP opposition in the House to President Bush’s tax increase. You lost the battle, but won our hearts by fighting.

Our common astrological sign is Gemini, the twins, which suggests split personalities. Indeed, I’ve spent my 62 years divided between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. You have evidenced a cyclical hard side and soft side that is the political equivalent, kind of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on the outside and a diplodocus on the inside. We were good friends for a long time, but have been out of sync since you became Speaker Rex, while I have been in a long neck, small brain, diplomatic mode. We are bound to get back into sync one of these days, though, probably on supply-side tax cuts, which is what linked us in the first place.

Although I’m not so sure when I look at our horoscope in today’s Morris County, N.J. Daily Record. I find we are advised: “Don’t borrow money to get into a risky investment. You’ll be in a tight spot when they ask for their money back. You must budget better if you want to have some extra cash.” Sounds more like Herbert Hoover than Jack Kemp, wouldn’t you say? Happy birthday, Newt, and many happy returns as Speaker.