Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 17, 2010

GINGRICH, MEET GODWIN.... It was the latest in a series of reminders that this is nothing -- literally, nothing -- that a far-right media personality can say to be driven from polite American society.

Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), inexplicably one of the nation's most ubiquitous Sunday-show guests, sat down with Chris Wallace yesterday on "Fox News Sunday." The host confronted Gingrich with one of his recent quotes: "The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."

Wallace said, "Mr. Speaker, respectfully, isn't that wildly over the top?" "No," Gingrich replied, insisting that he believes President Obama intends to "decide who earns how much."

The host pushed back, but Gingrich was entirely serious. As the former Speaker sees it, President Obama believes there's such a thing as excessive wealth, which means the president intends to be "the arbiter of your dreams," which means the president will try to "decide who earns how much," which means the president is some kind of communist. Or something.

Gingrich added that the Obama administration therefore poses a threat comparable to the Nazis and Soviets, not on a "moral" plane, but as "a very serious threat to our way of life."

Now, I think it's fair to say most reasonable people would charitably describe this as idiocy. Comparing America's leadership to Nazis and Soviets is as offensive as it is ridiculous. This isn't exactly a new observation, but Newt Gingrich, the disgraced pseudo-intellectual, is quite obviously stark raving mad.

But here's the kicker: it won't make a bit of difference. Given the way the political establishment is "wired" for Republicans, there simply aren't any consequences for this kind of abject stupidity.

Gingrich was driven from office by members of his own party more than a decade ago, under a cloud of ethical lapses, policy failures, and personal scandal. He hasn't held office since, but the media can't stop turning to him -- he was the single most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" in 2009 -- giving him a national platform to spew nonsense, including yesterday, when he defended previous remarks comparing Americans to Nazis.

The media-driven discourse of 21st-century America often leaves much to be desired.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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2nd Witch:
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

Posted by: FRP on May 17, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding his numerous appearances on Sunday shows, Newt Gingrich is like one of those Vegas stand-up comics that could be reliably booked on the Tonight Show to fill in the gap between the latest starlet and musical guest The Fifth Dimension. He's the Shecky Greene of punditry. And like that ilk, he never fails to get a laugh but ten minutes later you have forgotten what he said.

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on May 17, 2010 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

actually...there is a cost..

nothing says the future for the GOP...


a discredited politican who hasn't held office in 10-years..


just like...nothing says family values...

like newt on his 3rd marriage...


Posted by: MR. IRONY on May 17, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Well I guess in the McCain Gingrich world where 5 million is "middle class" I would guess so. Never mind that current tax rates at their lowest point ever.I am sure he has been receiving Luntz-O Gram talking points as Mr. Luntz has assured him that the Librul Media will faithfully repeat them.

Posted by: john R on May 17, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

TeeVee viewers ask: Why don't they bring back the "Gong Show"?

- They already have, just with a different name. . .

Posted by: DAY on May 17, 2010 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Newt has become what some could refer to as "a stupid human trick"---currently referred to as an episode of "Jacka$$"....

Posted by: S. Waybright on May 17, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich is on these shows for one reason: entertainment value. He can be relied on for outrageous comments, such as he made, for which he pays no price largely because no one pays any attention to him.

Gingrich is an aging has-been dressed up as an elder statesman by the media and the right. He doesn't have the charisma of a Palin (even though he's smarter if no less ridiculous than she is) to gain any traction in the now dominant lunatic right. So his presidential aspirations are effectively dead. All he's got left are his command performances on Sunday morning.

Posted by: rrk1 on May 17, 2010 at 8:27 AM | PERMALINK

Professor Emeritus of Ineptness is such a revered position on the right.

Posted by: berttheclock on May 17, 2010 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich is the reason I cannot stomach History's "America: The Story of Us." They have this guy talking like he's some sort of historian.

Posted by: Viceroy Matt on May 17, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Former politicians speak for the GOP. Former politicians ARE the GOP.

Texas-Tea-bagger Coporatists are the future of the GOP. Like their childhood role models, the Clampett family, they all want to go to Hollywood and live like rich folks.

Posted by: anomaly on May 17, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

"The media-driven discourse of 21st-century America often leaves much to be desired."

We republicans own the media and we have the right to present 'objective' content that delivers our message. We objectively present most discussions with what appears to be a republican point of view. In reality, it is the point of view of our corporate and wealthy interests.

That this perspective mostly mirrors the republican party is because our wealthy finance the republican party and they do our bidding. If we owned the democrat party completely, rather than just 70% of it, we would not have this appearance of unfairness. Fortunately, this is an evolving process and soon there will be very few politicians that we do not completely own.

God bless OUR Supreme Court and their Citizens United Not Timid vs FEC ruling assuring our increased ownership of politics. When our Supreme Court rules in our favor in SpeechNow.org vs FEC, our full ownership of politicians and the political process will be completed.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on May 17, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Gosh-- too much for Chris Wallace. Once upon a time, Newt had some political power, and had to be taken somewhat seriously. But that was then.

Posted by: MattF on May 17, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

"The media-driven discourse of 21st-century America often leaves much to be desired."

Your self-control is impressive, Steve. I would have replaced "leaves much to be desired" with a string of expletives.

Posted by: Ohioan on May 17, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

....the president intends to be "the arbiter of your dreams," which means the president will try to "decide who earns how much," which means the president is some kind of communist.....

Ahhh, I see the party from whence the bank loathing tea party members derived is now trying to make the turn and complete the circle.

No bailouts for crooks but we mustn't stop their crookery either.

Posted by: oh my on May 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP once called themselves the "party of ideas" (though they were some pretty loathsome ideas).

Today they can truly be called the "party of idiots".

Posted by: nerd on May 17, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

I'm all for using satire to counter clowns like Gingrich, but consider that his words are meant for the ears of the next Timothy McVeigh, or some other member of the militant wing of the Republican Party.

I remember Gingrich's first reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing and murder -- he remarked on the enormity of the blast -- like a bad seed kid whose first try at firecracker damage was successful, but wait you get a load of the next one.

I think Gingrich was impressed though that his and Frank Luntz's words had even that explosive power.

I view Gingrich's (and Limbaugh's, Beck's, Death Palin's, and the rest of the homegrown anti-American zombie filth terrorist crew's) words like I do Osama Bin Laden's on those periodic tapes -- they are meant to keep the troops at the ready, in position, and filled with hate for the Republican Party's and al Qaeda mutual enemy -- the U.S. Government and western liberals.

There's a lesser dick over at Redhate -- Mike Tinycock Dewine -- and his dwarfdicked buddy, the estimable Russian cartoon troll vladimir -- who have been waxing faux-patriot lately about the fact that America is on its last decline into darkness and that they believe violence will be necessary to fight the secular-socialist blah blah blah blah etc -- except when you get down eight paragraphs or so into their spew -- they, like all cowardly gunfondling bullies -- back off and expect that it it is liberals who will start the violence.

They are just stockpiling and girding their meager loins for the dirty job to come.

My old grandpappy used to tell me, though, if ya think you're going to be in a fight -- get the first punch in and make it hurt.

All of the anti-American Republican rhetoric is geared to foment a second, bloody Civil War in America --

--- maybe satirist Jon Stewart is our Lincoln -- but I doubt it.

Posted by: John Thullen on May 17, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Ironically this idiocy spews from a guy with a Ph.D. in Modern European History (Tulane 1971). Gingrich was a college history professor before getting into politics. Why do the news media still treat treat him as a beltway bigshot?
For one thing, he is colorful. For another, he is mean, which counts for a lot in stoking the coals of controversy. More important, though, is his unique position as a modern Robespierre. Gingrich led a major congressional revolution, ushering into office a clutch of Jacobins who swore fealty not only to him but to the idea of leaving the revolution after two or three terms. (Never mind the broken promises of some.)

Like Robespierre, Gingrich fell victim to the turbulent times. The colorful House speaker, however, was not beheaded. He was merely deposed. So he lived to enjoy a career as a growing-older GOP charlatan.

His trotting out the "Nazi" label to smear Democrats trivializes the Holocaust. But the greater the time between the 1940s and the present, the less offensive it may seem -- except to those who know their history.

Posted by: jerry Elsea on May 17, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

Media-driven discourse leaves much to be desired except that 1) gets ratings, 2) ppl who watch actually think they understand politico-doublespeak, and 3) it helps maintain a somewhat viable stable of party hacks and flacks the media can consistently use to cover up the fact the media doesn't have a clue how to be journalists.

Posted by: Greytdog on May 17, 2010 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

It would be a mistake to underestimate the danger of Gingrich. He is positioning himself in the Republican Party as a credible right wing alternative to Palin and, given the lack of real alternatives in that Party--at least as of today--he might well succeed.

Obviously, Gingrich's knowledge, intellectual ability, level of sophistication and degree of articulateness are all well above Palin's, and his seeming intellectual heft makes him palatable to the large segment of the Republican Party (as well as independents) who find her unacceptable.

When Gingrich speaks, he comes across as an intellectual, using big words and frequently referring to his background as an academic. Of course, much of what he says is ridiculous, and his references to history generally constitute historical revisionism in an extreme sense, but most people listening to him don't know that, and by the time you unpack what he has says and how silly it is, most people have already moved on.

In my view, Gingrich poses the greatest danger to Obama as a Presidential candidate. He can hold his own--and then some--in a debate or interview; the unfounded assertions, incorrect interpretations of history and absurd leaps of logic are very difficult to challenge on the spot. He is potentially acceptable to all parts of the fragmented party, and doesn't have the obvious drawbacks of Palin and Romney. His somewhat ugly personal history is his greatest weakness, but my guess is that conservatives will find a way to forgive him.

Posted by: DRF on May 17, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

"the political establishment is "wired" for Republicans"

You'll forgive me if I ask for some examples to justify this statement. From what I read, it reads a lot more like opinion than fact.

Posted by: J on May 17, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

It's only a small nit to pick, but why, I wonder, should a man driven from office be given the courtesy of being addressed as "Mr. Speaker"?

Posted by: sparrow on May 17, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

I guess historian Gingrich has forgotten that the last president who actually enacted wage and price controls in the U.S. economy was--wait for it--Richard Nixon.


Posted by: Charles Moore on May 17, 2010 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

why, I wonder, should a man driven from office be given the courtesy of being addressed as "Mr. Speaker"?

The same reason we address former presidents as "Mr. President."

Posted by: J on May 17, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

As long as Newt Gingrich is complaining and not exercising actual power, we will still have an American Dream to look forward to.

Lest anyone fail to remember Newt's exploits, he is more than famous, he's INfamous! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 17, 2010 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

You definitely can see why Newt didn't get tenure.

Posted by: Jamie on May 17, 2010 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I mean to say in my screed above, that vassar bushmills is Dewhine's violence-fever dreaming buddy over at Redhate.

vladimir, for his part, deploys his talents ruining other parts of America.

My mistake.

Posted by: John Thullen on May 17, 2010 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

the Obama administration therefore poses a threat comparable to the Nazis and Soviets... as "a very serious threat to our way of life."

Newt may be right.
Who is her referring to by his use of the word "our"?

When it was Hitler and Stalin, America could count on the middle and lower classes to fill the ranks of those who would fight.

Who's going to fight for Newt and those he considers his allies? Who practices the "way of life" that Newt feels is threatened by our commander in chief?

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 17, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

jeez, even if Obama did believe what Gingrich claimed he believes, it wouldn't be the major threat he claims. He's only the President, and we still have a Congress and a Supreme Court, and it's not like Obama can just do whatever he wants.

These guys have just become total fear junkies, and nothing is ever just 'kinda bad' anymore. It's always got to be the End of Life As We Know It!!!!

Newtie's just jonzing for another fix....even if he has to imagine it.

Posted by: biggerbox on May 17, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK



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