Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 21, 2010

WHEN NEWT COMPARES AMERICANS TO NAZIS.... From time to time, far-right voices will complain that MoveOn.org ran ads several years ago comparing the Bush administration to Nazis. The ads don't exist in reality, but facts aside, conservatives keep pushing the myth precisely because of its perceived power: those who compare Americans, especially America's elected leadership, to Nazis are necessarily loathsome radicals.

We now know, of course, that those rules no longer apply. Not only do assorted right-wing activists appear at Tea Party events with pictures of President Obama with a Hitler mustache, but disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has published a book that draws the parallels explicitly.

[Gingrich] is promoting his new book, To Save America, which argues repeatedly that the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are a "secular-socialist machine" that "represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union."

Gingrich has repeatedly defended this claim, telling both NBC's Meredith Vieira and Fox News' Chris Wallace that he truly believes that the Obama administration is an equivalent "threat" to America as brutal dictators like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. [...]

In reaching to make his case, Gingrich repeatedly tries desperately to connect the Obama administration with Nazi Germany.

Remember, MoveOn.org was supposed to be expelled from public life forever for an ad the group didn't run, but Newt Gingrich is sought out by major media outlets as a credible, sane voice on international affairs, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

In fairness, I've been pleasantly surprised by the conservatives who agree that Gingrich has gone too far this time. Joe Scarborough described Gingrich's latest lunacy as "sick" and "shameful" this week. Former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), who was part of Gingrich's caucus in the 1990s, called Gingrich's comparison "just crazy."

But the disgraced, humiliated former Speaker just keeps defending the comparison, insisting that the president and his allies pose an existential threat to the United States, just like the Nazis and the Soviets.

By any reasonable measure, Gingrich really has turned into an unhinged nut, and an embarrassment to himself. It wasn't too long ago -- say, before January 2009 -- that comparing American leaders to Nazis was simply beyond the pale of reasonable discourse. And yet, ol' Newt has done little else recently.

The remaining question is the same as it always is: will this drive Gingrich from polite society? Or will major media outlets continue to perceive the stark raving mad former Speaker as a legitimate, important observer (or, as David Broder called him, a "visionary")?

I think we know the answers, which is precisely the problem -- there's nothing prominent Republicans can say or do to be driven from the discourse.

Steve Benen 3:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

It's not that the rules no longer apply, but that they have always applied selectively. The Right can do it; the Left can't.

Posted by: ambivalentmaybe on May 21, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

If by "polite society" you mean the MSM, then the answer is clearly "no" for the simple reason that Newt Gingerich will do or say anything it takes to get invited back on television.

You might as well wonder whether a whore will finally be expelled from a whorehouse for being too whorish.

Posted by: Chesire11 on May 21, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Think Progress has a nice catch wherein they call out Newt for once saying that people who compared the Bush/Cheney administration to Nazi Germany were "unhinged."

Posted by: Mustang Bobby on May 21, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

It sells books and keeps him on the TV. It's easy to see why he does it; the real problem is why it works.

Posted by: qwerty on May 21, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"there's nothing prominent Republicans can say or do to be driven from the discourse"

Actually, that's wrong.

Any Republican who denounces Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, Fox News, et. al. would IMMEDIATELY be forced to apologize or be banned for life.

Posted by: Mark-NC on May 21, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

This is all they have.

They can see everything slipping away, their ideas utterly discredited, their positions considered laughable, embarrassing, or cruel. So they have to try to scare people.

Obama is the devil. They may as well adopt that as the official GOP slogan because they have nothing else to run on. Nothing.

Posted by: Baldrick on May 21, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrigh is visionary, all right... he's seeing things. That, and all his paranoid ravings make me suspect that he's actually an unmedicated paranoid schizophrenic.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on May 21, 2010 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Where oh where is the Anti-Defamation League?

Posted by: Dan on May 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

I find it interesting that Gingrich is not comparing the current administration to Saddam Hussein. I mean after all, wasn't he Hitler? Or was I just led to think he was?

Posted by: chrenson on May 21, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Newt is a perfect example of why conservatives should not drop acid, it just never turns out well for them.

Sad, really...

Posted by: Chesire11 on May 21, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's simple, really.

You're wrong.

Hitler was wrong.

You're Hitler.

Any fifth-grader can understand.

Posted by: Northern Pike on May 21, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Firth grader?

Liberal elitist!

Posted by: Chesire11 on May 21, 2010 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK


WHY DOESN'T ANY OF THIS STICK TO NEWT?!?!?!?!?!

Posted by: myNameIsJoe on May 21, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

"To Save America" The Secular Socialists ought to round up the likes of Newty and send them to reeducation camps.
Seriously you know with a name like Newt he got beat up and suffered numerous wedgies when he was a kid. He never recovered .
That why he loves being a Repug . You can do or say anything. IOKIYAR

Posted by: john R on May 21, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK
By any reasonable measure, Gingrich really has turned into an unhinged nut, and an embarrassment to himself.

Interesting. You could have said exactly the same thing about the radical TV preacher Pat Robertson before he ran for President in 1988.

Leave a right-winger out in the sun long enough and he begins to show his true colors. Rand Paul is going to be very allergic to the sun from now on.

Posted by: Rick B on May 21, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Evidently "Nazi Tourette's" is contagious.

For the two of you who haven't seen it, check out Lewis Black.

Posted by: chrenson on May 21, 2010 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Dang, the conservatives are the ones who swear up and down that they are the ones who are experts at defense and are, themselves, personally, armed to the teeth, but secular-socialists scare them more than the Nazis and a nuclear superpower?

Not to sell ourselves too short here, but...

what a bunch of sissies.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Remember when the Democratic Congress-person pointed out that American torture practices in the so-called war on terror were what you'd expect from the Soviets or Nazis, and the usual dishonest conservative outcry made him apologize?

Now here's Newt telling us again, IOKIYAR.

Feh.

Posted by: Gregory on May 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

What is this "polite society" of which you speak? What color is the sky in that world?

Posted by: TG on May 21, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

If Newt is truly convinced that Obama is a greater threat than Hitler or Stalin, then he's honor-bound as a great American patriot to immediately pick up a weapon and attack the White House. If he doesn't do it, he's a coward. C'mon, Newt, show us what a man you are.

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 21, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Newt speaks for Newt. He is an expired dairy product. The pathos of his longing for the spotlight rivals that of Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: Newt's poot on May 21, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

but newt is a historian ... surely he knows what he's talking about.

and newt's poot, say what you want about jimmy carter but he's served a useful life since leaving office. and if i recall correctly, he did serve in the highest office in the land, which does give him a status gingrich doesn't, and never will, have (even though he'd kill for it).

Posted by: mudwall jackson on May 21, 2010 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

So---when can I start comparing Newt and his over-the-top pals to North Korea?

Posted by: S. Waybright on May 21, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

During the 2008 campaign, Sarah Palin set a new low for what was once considered lively campaign rhetoric. Snarky Sarah became the cheerleader at McCain/Palin rallies, pumping up fear, anger, and hate, never uttering the words "black president" but finding every way to portray Obama as an outsider, an unAmerican. She winked at those who shouted "Terrorist!" "Socialist!" "Muslim" and "Kill him!" Sarah praised those carrying signs with ugly, racist or Nazi slogans. She coined phrases like "palling around with terrorists," "urban elitist" and the "real Americans." Since then, Sarah, Rush, Glenn, and others in the right wing media have hopped on the bandwagon, continuing to gin up the emotions of the right wing fringe with "death panels," "Obama is a socialist, a Nazi, a communist, a racist, not born in America, the anti-Christ. By defining themselves as fair and balanced authorities as opposed to the "lamestream media," they discourage listeners' independent or critical thinking or independent reasoning. With the assistance of right wing psycho-pols like Michele Bachmann, Joe Wilson, Virginia Foxx, Peter King and others, there is no established point of decency and respect beneath which Republicans and Teabaggers will not go. The audience has been warmed up, and it is ready to cheer any conspiracy theory no matter how ridiculous. They are encouraged to voice their darkest, ugliest, racist and revolutionary comments without shame. Like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich is simply pandering to the wingnut crowd, taking advantage of his latest opportunity to make money.

Posted by: Carol A. on May 21, 2010 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

".... then he's honor-bound as a great American patriot to pick up a weapon and attack the White House."

Newt has people to do that.

I suspect the third man who escaped capture after the Oklahoma City bombing and murder is still out there, awaiting for Newt to deal the queen on FOX News.

Posted by: John Thullen on May 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

wow the Newtster has wandered off the sanity reservation

Posted by: Jamie on May 21, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Newt know exactly what he is doing. He is an authoritarian leader, a generator of false history. He does not have to believe his own stories. Right wing authoritarian followers, however, have their world view emboldened by Newt's nonsense.

See " The Authoritarians" by Robert Altemeyer for a lucid online explanation.

Posted by: deejaayss on May 21, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, Newt makes perfect sense. On Planet Beck, the logic of it is flawless. Barack Hussein Obama has one name which begins with the letter H. Adolf Hitler also has a name that begins with H. Attila the Hun, also an "H", originally came from the steppes of Russia, formerly the Soviet Union. Ergo, Obama=Hitler=Evil Soviet Empire. If you'll just write all this down on a blackboard and connect the lines, you will see how clear it all is.

Posted by: GringoNoraca on May 21, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

But here's the tougher problem for TV bookers....who the hell CAN you invite from the GOP who is even occasionally rational?

Go ahead...name someone. You could try a Snowe for example, but I truly thing she is bats...t terrified of saying anything that could prompt an "I'm more conservative than you are.." primary. Same for most anyone else falling remotely near that category. After what happened to Bennett in Utah, even Mitch the turtle has to be nervous.

That leaves the field to the Rand Paul's, Newt Gingriches, Ann Coulters, John Boehners and Michael Steele's of the world as the leading spokespersons for what used to be a coherent political party. They got no bench, no platform, no policies....in fact that is ALL they've go....NO!

Posted by: dweb on May 21, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Newt's not crazy, he's desperate. He's tacking to the right to remain relevant to the tea party. if it weren't for the inner beltway news show producers, this guy would have dried up a long long time ago.

Posted by: jay on May 21, 2010 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

"here's nothing prominent Republicans can say or do to be driven from the discourse."

I think that only way to test this is for some poor unfortunate to exemplify the “dead girl or a live boy” axiom. Unfortunately, common human decency keeps me from seriously hoping for this scenario to play out. The question will have to remain one of the great unknowns along with how many licks it takes to get the center of a tootsie roll pop.

Posted by: David Hunt on May 21, 2010 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

To Save America

Winger authors are some of the most prolific writers in the country......Coulter, Gingrich, Palin, et al. They produce books like most people make dinner. I can't believe their audience is literate enough let alone buying up all these books. I smell a scam.

Posted by: ted on May 21, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Can't Newt's wives get him under control?

Posted by: Ted76 on May 21, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

"...insisting that the president and his allies pose an existential threat to the United States..." Steve Benen.

"...pose an existential threat to Newties' idea of the United States...".
Fixed it.

Posted by: Doug on May 21, 2010 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Who is Newt Gingrich and why is he on my TV every Sunday?

Actually it's pretty pathetic the way he hawks his books and personal appearances as if he was a player, not an over the hill failure fired from the best job he ever had because he couldn't control his own personal weaknesses (lying and sex being the most prominent). The only people he fools are the MSM.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on May 21, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Newt speaks for Newt. He is an expired dairy product. The pathos of his longing for the spotlight rivals that of Jimmy Carter."

Hey, Jimmy Carter has actually done something useful since leaving office. There are thousands of families living in decent houses because of Habitat for Humanity. Newtie has done nothing for anybody but himself, pretty much like when he was in office.

Posted by: Mandy Cat on May 21, 2010 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Can Newt no longer make up his own "history"? This is at least the third book since Obama took office comparing him to Hilter. First Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism", then Glen Beck's book where's he dress up like a German soldier on the cover. The Newt we all knew and loved could invent his own historical facts without have to recycle other peoples made up narratives.

Posted by: John on May 21, 2010 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich is just chasing Beck.

Amazing how many of the Right's 'stars' resemble nothing so much as three year olds throwing tantrums and calling names. The "Daddy" party is in real need of competent parenting by functioning adults.

Posted by: xaxnar on May 22, 2010 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

The right wingers have it backwards--where Obama reflects a "Nazi/Communism" is in his foreign policy and civil liberty positions where he advocates endless wars of domination and serious attacks on individual rights and a "surveillance state" mentality (all positions the right wing/republicans endorse). His domestic policies are coporatism light.

Posted by: pasco on May 22, 2010 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

"drive Gingrich from polite society." ??? What polite society ?

Posted by: rbe1 on May 22, 2010 at 3:47 AM | PERMALINK

Follow the money. Gingrich isn't stupid. He knows he will never be anything, politically, ever again. With so many competing cable channels and websites and blogs, it takes a lot to be able to draw the speaking fees, tv appearances, pageviews etc. to really be able to stake your claim as relevant. I give him credit for being shrewd enough to grok what sells. Thoughtful, substantive criticism from the right that is recognized and rewarded exists only in David Broder's when-I-was-a-lad imagination.

Newt's got to compete (and he's losing badly) with red stilettos and a wink, and he's always been the obnoxious kid who has to show how smart he is, so the fact that he's miles behind Palin has to drive him crazy. If his erudition won't win him 1,563,646 Facebook fans, what else can he do except go Godwin?

Posted by: NancyP on May 22, 2010 at 5:08 AM | PERMALINK
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