A former speaker of the House said Thursday that the roughly 60 Democratic members of Congress who plan to boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration should hang their heads in shame.
‘If you’re a member of Congress, if you work that hard to get to be a part of the system … all they’re doing is make themselves look small and silly,’ Newt Gingrich told ‘Fox & Friends’ hosts.
And the onetime conservative revolutionary, who led the Republican Party to a House majority in 1994 after four decades of back-benching, warned Democrats that their partisan stand could backfire.
‘I mean, their left loves them. But as we used to learn the hard way, you know, you can have your partisans love you for a long time and stay in the minority.’
Asked what the late President Ronald Reagan would think of the boycott, Gingrich shot back: ‘That they’re childish and silly.’
A few Democrats stayed home when Reagan took the oath of office in 1981, and they galvanized their energies later that night around a ‘counter-inaugural ball’ hosted by a Democratic senator from Colorado.
Gingrich framed the left’s boycott this time around in terms of national unity.
‘The inauguration’s not about Republicans. It’s not about Donald Trump,’ he said. ‘The inauguration’s about America. Why would you abandon America?
‘You’re at a moment when the nation is transferring power peacefully, unlike – no other country has done this as long as we have. You have all of the sense of the national establishment coming together, despite an occasional idiot.’
But despite nearly one-third of the House Democratic caucus not showing up, Gingrich insisted Friday’s ceremony will be infused with ‘optimism.’
‘I mean, it doesn’t matter which team wins. We are a naturally optimistic country,’ he said.
The former speaker, a onetime college history professor who was at one point touted as a potential cabinet secretary, praised the president-elect for having ‘a very strong sense of who he is and what his mission in history is.’
‘And he also has frankly a better sense of how to talk with the American people than any Republican since Reagan.’
Reflecting with the ‘Fox & Friends’ host about a tea they attended Wednesday night at the British Embassy, Gingrich agreed that UK expats inhabiting Washington’s corridors of power haven’t yet figured out how to relate to the billionaire who will move into the White House on Friday.
‘None of us know what to make of Donald Trump. Why should the British be ahead of us?’ he quipped.
Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager who has since turned lobbyist, told the same Fox News Channel hosts on Thursday that he’s disappointed in the boycott news.
‘I think the American people are so tired of partisan government and gridlock,’ he said.
‘It’s a shame that some of these congressmen want to make it about hyper-partisan politics and not what’s right for the American people. Give him a chance!’
Boycotters are taking their energy from civil rights icon John Lewis, who first said he would stay away from the U.S. Capitol on Friday – incorrectly stating that he’d never missed an inauguration before.
The Washington Post’s latest tally had 65 Democratic representatives saying they would participate in a boycott – that’s more than one-third of their caucus’s 194 members.
Outgoing President Barack Obama told reporters on Wednesday that he was staying above the fray.
‘With respect to the inauguration, I am not going to comment on those issues,’ Obama said. ‘All I know is I’m going to be there. So is Michelle.’
Democrats who serve in the Senate are not breaking with tradition, despite their differences with Trump.
Senator Joe Manchin said Sunday that Lewis’ boycott of the ceremony, that typically features lawmakers and former presidents standing behind the new president as he takes the Oath of Office, is ‘uncalled for.’
The West Virginia senator, who was added this term to Democratic leadership and was went to New York to meet with Trump, said on CBS’ Face the Nation that the altercation between the Republican president-elect and Lewis, a Georgia congressman, is ‘non-productive.’
Both of the Senate’s black Democrats are attending.
Newly elected California Sen. Kamala Harris told the Los Angeles Times she was going. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who’s often talked about as a prospective rival to Trump in the next election, said Monday at a breakfast he will participate in the ‘peaceful transition of power.’
At an event recognizing the late Martin Luther King Jr. on his birthday, a federal holiday, Booker said he would follow the outgoing president’s lead, like most of his Senate colleagues.
‘I respect everybody’s choice in this. My personal feeling is this is the peaceful transition of power,’ he said, according to USA Today. ‘Barack Obama will be up there, handing off the reins of our country and I feel … it’s important for us to be up there. This doesn’t mean I agree with Donald Trump.’
The fight between Lewis, who said Trump will not be a ‘legitimate’ president, and the president-elect, who responded on Twitter with personal and professional insults, turned the three-day holiday weekend that honors national civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. into a brand new battleground.
Trump’s jabs at Lewis, who marched on Washington with Dr. King and was brutally beaten by police in Selma, Alabama, was met with outrage by congressional Democrats, many of whom are saying they won’t go to his inauguration.
Even Michelle Obama got involved in the fight, highlighting Lewis in a tweet celebrating King and the advancement of civil rights.
Lewis, a congressman since 1987, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Friday, ‘I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
‘I don’t plan to attend the inauguration. It will be the first one that I miss since I’ve been in Congress,’ he added. ‘You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.’
SOURCE: DAVID MARTOSKO