Apparently, the Health Plan is working on establishing a tradition of inviting over-the-hill, right-wing Republican/Fox News regulars to address their annual symposium at Oglebay Park. Last year, it was the former governor of Arkansas and frequent Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s turn; this year, it’s the former Speaker of the House and frequent Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s opportunity to present his boilerplate speech and somehow relate it to health care.
According to the front page article written by Wheeling Intelligencer reporter Linda Comins, Gingrich would improve health care by focusing on jobs:
“People who have a vision of being productive take better care of themselves,” he said. Thus, he suggested that leaders “change the vision” to meet the challenge of West Virginia’s rankings, by concentrating on “the ability to create the next 100,000 jobs and the next 100,000.”
(Create 100,000 jobs? West Virginia is the 2nd oldest state in the union – does this mean he wants to put all those retirees back to work? And working people don't get sick? Sorry, I realize that the headline reads “Gingrich: Jobs Will Improve Health” but this doesn’t make any sense.)
Listen, learn, help, lead
According to Comins:
As an entrepreneur, Gingrich said a set of skills is necessary for effectiveness. He shared a formula with symposium attendees of having vision, metrics, strategies, projects and tactics. He also advocated a leadership model of “listen, learn, help, lead.”
I guess we should be impressed with a speaker that’s been saying the same thing for 20+ years and still getting big bucks to say it. Here’s an article in The Weekly Standard from 1997:
It is Gingrich's method as well. . . . As rendered by Gingrich, this has become a four-part "Leadership Model": "Listen-Learn-Help-Lead."
(His “formula” is mentioned frequently in articles about him on the internet. This is not unlike last year’s featured speaker, Mike Huckabee, who told the same plagiarized joke at the symposium that he had been using for years.)
Gingrich gets around: Wheeling yesterday, Fox News today
Apparently, Fox News still takes Gingrich seriously. This morning he appeared on “Fox & Friends.” The title for the article about his appearance explains what he said:
Newt Gingrich: Biden is a 'doofus,' will become 'very radical Democrat' before face-off with Trump
A “doofus”? Okay, other than symposium planners for the Health Plan and Fox viewers, does anyone take Gingrich seriously?
Gingrich laughs all the way to the bank
How much does Gingrich charge for his insights into jobs, health care, and “listening and learning”? It now may be higher, but the most recent figure I could find is from Politico in December of 2016:
IF YOU WANT TO BOOK the former House speaker for a D.C. speech, it will now cost you $25,000 plus ground transportation. For speeches east of Chicago, he’s charging $60,000 plus first class travel for two, and for speeches west of Chicago, he’s asking $75,000 plus first class travel for two.” It’s an increase of about $15,000, our source tells us.
$60,000? How did the Health Plan pay for Gingrich’s appearance in Wheeling? That answer probably tells us more about why it’s so difficult to fix America’s health care system than anything that Gingrich said.
Friday Update -- Add Karl Rove
The Health Plan's symposium finished yesterday with yet another Republican: "GOP policy consultant"(political operative) Karl Rove. Today's Intelligencer documented some of Rove's doubts about "Medicare-for-all" as well as his belief that health care will play an important role in the next election. Two questions:
While I could not find Rove's speaker fees, I'm sure he, like Gingrich, did not come cheaply. Where did the money to pay Rove and Gingrich come from?
If the Health Plan is truly looking for answers on health care, why not invite speakers from a wide range of policy positions including the center and the left?
(Note -- these two questions may be related.)