Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Which Is Weirder—Iowa or New Hampshire? Take the Quiz.

| Tue Jan. 10, 2012 1:13 PM EST
Variations on a theme: Grant Wood's American Gothic (left), and the label for New Hampshire-based Smuttynose IPA

New Hampshire voters are different than you. So we've been told, anyway. "New Hampshire voters are no pushovers," writes the Los Angeles Times, informing us the the residents of the Granite State are, variously, "cranky," "obdurate," and "independent." They're also "Yankee stoics," "no-nonsense," and "rock-ribbed," adds McClatchy's David Lightman. Conservative talk radio host Mark Steyn calls New Hampshirites "crusty," "cranky," and "contrarian." Hardball host Chris Matthews attempted to sum up the state's electorate as "real," "American," and "flinty." "We take the vetting of the candidates very seriously," says Republican Kelly Ayotte, the state's junior senator.

New Hampshire voters are many things (or at least many different varieties of rock), but one thing they are absolutley not is Iowan. That's the message that's seeped out over the last 12 months or so from politicians, editorial boards, and even a few candidates. "They pick corn in Iowa; they pick presidents in New Hampshire," said Jon Huntsman, who's banking his presidential fortunes on the relative cranky flintiness of Granite State residents. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell best captured the conventional wisdom, explaining that, contra New Hampshire, Iowa is "too white, too evangelical, too rural" to make much of a difference on the GOP nominating race. (New Hampshire is 93.9 percent white; Iowa is 91 percent).

But are they really so different? My colleague Andy Kroll busted the myth of New Hampshire maverick voter on Friday. And a quick comparison of the two states' legislative activity over the last three years reveals some serious overlap. Is Iowa the crazy one? Or was it New Hampshire? Match the nutty proposal with the appropriate state:

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Your Daily Newt: Gingrich Channels Liz Warren

| Tue Jan. 10, 2012 10:17 AM EST
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich points at something.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

This quote, from Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, is about as spirited defense of big government you'll ever see, outlining the foundational—and irreplacable—role played by public institutions in creating a prosperous society:

The era of Republican domination back between 1856 and 1932 was a period of tremendous government experimenting, a period of building the transcontinental railroad...a period of encouraging homesteading through the Homestead Act, a eriod of the agricultural college and the Morill Act which led to the land grant colleges and the agricultural agent system. 

The test I always give conservatives is to say "How many of you wanted to save the Panama Canal?" Most of my conservative friends promptly raise their hands. But the fact of the matter is that the Panama Canal was built by government engineers, because government doctors cured yellow fevers. It was run by a government corporation and it was constructed by government Army and Navy, the largest public works project in history at the time was it was set up.

Except that quote didn't actually come from Elizabeth Warren (this one did). It came from a young Rep. Newt Gingrich, in 1983.

Your (Bonus) Daily Newt: Why Gingrich Missed Vietnam

| Mon Jan. 9, 2012 2:00 PM EST
Newt Gingrich campaigns in Manchester, New Hampshire in January.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out. And today, in honor of Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, you get a bonus Daily Newt!

For the last week, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has been hammering Gingrich for his record during the Vietnam war, when the former speaker, then a graduate student at Tulane, avoided service through a series of deferments. Gingrich, Paul asserted, was a "Chicken-hawk"—someone too cowardly to go to war himself but more than willing to send others into battle. At Saturday's debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, Paul doubled down: "I'm trying to stop the wars, but at least, you know, I went when they called me up."

If there's ambiguity about Gingrich's record, it's because of his own statements. On Saturday, Gingrich claimed that he wasn't eligible for the draft: "The fact is, I never asked for deferment," he said, in a visibly irate response to Paul. "I was married with a child. It was never a question. My father was, in fact, serving in Vietnam in the Mekong Delta at the time he's referring to. I think I have a pretty good idea of what it's like as a family to worry about your father getting killed. And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with."

Your Daily Newt: The Germans Have a Word for It

| Mon Jan. 9, 2012 12:47 PM EST
"GINGRICH CRUSH!"

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Newt Gingrich hates bureaucracies. He loathes them, really—wants to watch 'em burn and see them replaced with a "conservative opportunity society" in which the government gets out of the way to allow private businesses to (for example) extract minerals from the moon. But there's one European bureaucracy Gingrich believes the United States could learn from: The German military, which the Georgia firebrand used as a model for how to manage the House Republican caucus. As Vanity Fair reported in 1994:

Gingrich's pal Stephen Hanser says that part of Newt's strategy in the House is based on combat theory, namely the German armed-forces doctrine of Auftragstaktik, or "mission orders." The problem is that in the heat of battle subtleties are lost. Standards fall. Atrocities are forgiven. Especially if the action is rapid-fire.

Connie Bruck offered some more context in the New Yorker:

Since his earliest years in Congress (he was first elected in 1978) he has lived by what he calls a "planning model"—which entails vision, strategies, projects, tactics. It is adapted from the German military model, having been introduced to Gingrich in the mid-seventies by his close friend and advisor Steven Hanser, who was a fellow history professor at West Georgia College and is a specialist on the Wehrmacht (the German armed forces).

Gingrich's love for the German language wasn't just a passing phase. In blurbing Rep. Steve Israel's 2007 collection of military speeches, Charge!, Gingrich wrote: "Steve Israel possesses that rare quality that the nineteenth-century German Army called 'fingerspitzengefuhl," which he defined as "a fingertip sense for the art of war."

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