Newt Gingrich says Obama 'shouldn't give them what they want'

Newt Gingrich, making an appearance on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Wednesday to promote his new gig on CNN's recently resurrected "Crossfire," offered his thoughts on the current impasse between President Obama and the GOP.

"He shouldn't give them what they want," Gingrich said of Obama.

Does this mean Gingrich, the onetime Republican speaker of the House who himself presided over two government shutdowns during President Bill Clinton's terms, has turned on his own party? Not exactly. He's no fan of the Affordable Care Act. But he did want to see Obama and the Republicans talking. And then, in a bizarre bit of reflection, Gingrich recalled wistfully his days of constant battles with President Clinton.

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"The thing about Bill Clinton is he would talk," Gingrich said. "Under any circumstance, he would talk. And then he would talk. And then he would talk some more. But what that did was, it got you into a room. ... We negotiated 35 days to finally get the only four balanced budgets in your lifetime."

Gingrich may have sounded a bit like an old warrior remembering his former enemies through the hazy effects of time, but he did attempt to put the current situation in perspective, pointing out that there were 12 shutdowns when Democrat Tip O'Neill was speaker of the House and two while Gingrich himself was there.

"We lived through it," he said.

But previous guest Kathy Griffin was having none of it and did her best to debate Gingrich. (Though Gingrich made an awkward and debate-closing point that Griffin's mother and his granddaughter shared the same name. Seriously, where do you go from there?)

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While Leno attempted to point out that it was the level of disrespect against the president that he didn't approve of, Gingrich bemoaned two Time magazine covers during his House term that showed him as both a bully to the disabled and the Grinch. (He didn't mention that the "Tonight Show" band played him on with the theme song to "House of Cards," the Netflix series that stars Kevin Spacey as the ruthless and murderous congressman Frank Underwood.)

But as for his closing advice for the president? "He should sit down and say, 'All right, what can we do to find a common ground to get something done?' I think that can be done."

Will we be seeing John Boehner appearing on Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" in 20 years looking back on this time with warm feelings? It sure doesn't seem that way right now.


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