Column: Newt Gingrich set the tone for today’s politics decades ago

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After Newt Gingrich gave a speech in San Diego this week, he was asked by a member of the audience what can be done about “the toxic polarization between the left and the right.”

The former House speaker pretty much sidestepped the heart of the matter and focused on the questioner’s ancillary concerns about how the political climate in the U.S. might affect the country’s ability to deal with foreign rivals.

The Georgia Republican expressed concern should a conflict arise in the near future, but said he was optimistic that the nation would be all right in the long term.

“We go through cycles like this,” he said Wednesday at a conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative-leaning organization that promotes policies limiting government, boosting free markets and giving more power to the states.

What wasn’t part of his answer is that a direct line can be drawn from today’s “toxic polarization” to the tactics…

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