It isn't just that some of the candidates for the GOP presidential nomination occasionally seem divorced from modern reality; it's that they're determined to re-fight battles that most of us thought had ended roughly a century ago. A case in point is newly inaugurated front-runner Newt Gingrich, who in a talk Monday at Harvard University denigrated federal child labor laws that date back to the 1930s.
"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods in trapping children … in child laws which are truly stupid," Gingrich said. "OK, you say to someone, 'You shouldn't go to work before you're 14, 16 years of age.' Fine. You're totally poor. You're in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I tried for years to have a very simple model. Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school." Mr. Bumble from "Oliver Twist" could not have said it better.
If Gingrich were the only one invoking ancient legislative history, we'd dismiss it as an anomaly (he is, after all, a former history professor). But he's got company. Texas Gov. Rick Perry's book "Fed Up!" is a treatise on the ways our liberal great-grandparents destroyed America, starting with the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson at the height of the Progressive Era. Planned Parenthood, founded in the shadow of World War I by feminist icon Margaret Sanger, is a popular target among the GOP hopefuls, most of whom would like to pull its federal funding.