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Tilting at Windmills

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July 27, 2010

DISGRACED FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER PRETENDS TO HAVE CREDIBILITY.... Oh good, Newt is still talking. (thanks to reader D.F. for the tip)

Newt Gingrich will deliver a major national security address at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Thursday in which he will reprimand the Obama administration's "willful blindness" to the threat of extremist Islam.

The speech -- a direct challenge to the president's foreign policy judgment at a venue that's become an important stopover for Republican luminaries -- is the latest sign that Gingrich is serious about a potential White House bid in 2012. [...]

Never one to shy away from his somewhat professorial reputation, Gingrich plans to draw on "the lessons of Camus and Orwell" to explain "the dangers of a wartime government that uses language and misleading labels to obscure reality."

Of course, Gingrich, a pseudo-intellectual crackpot, only has a "somewhat professorial reputation" among those who neglect to listen to what he has to say. This is, after all, the same Gingrich who insisted on national television recently that it was acceptable to Mirandize shoe-bomber Richard Reid because he was "an American citizen." (In our reality, Reid is a British citizen of Jamaican descent.)

In light of the speech, Greg Sargent noted, "Newt Gingrich is set to duke it out with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney for the title of leading GOP voice on national security."

I think that's right, but I also think it's an indictment of sorts. As potential GOP presidential candidates eye 2012, the leading Republican voices on national security are Gingrich, Palin, and Romney? Isn't that rather humiliating for a party that used to lead on these issues?

Gingrich has exactly zero experience on foreign policy, military affairs, and national security. Romney recently tried to pretend to understand these issues, and was utterly humiliated. Palin has said publicly she thinks she understands foreign policy because Vladimir Putin flew over her house.

The Republican Party likes to maintain the pretense that these issues "belong" to them -- all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding -- but the fact that their most noteworthy national luminaries on the subject are utterly clueless, and bring all the sophistication of a child to the debate, is pretty striking.

This isn't to say the entire Republican Party is devoid of credible voices on national security and foreign policy; that would be an overstatement. Current and former officials like Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Brent Scowcroft, George Schultz, Colin Powell, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Reagan Chief of Staff Howard Baker, former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) all approach these issues with at least some seriousness and stature.

Of course, since this same group also happens to agree with President Obama on national security and foreign policy, that's probably not much help when it comes to GOP politics.

Steve Benen 11:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

daniel larison notes that mitt doubles down on the start treaty in a new nr opinion piece and adds : "Romney seems not to have learned anything from the thorough thrashing his first op-ed against START ratification received, as he has written a response to Sen. Lugar’s rebuttal that mostly just repeats previous errors and misleading statements."

Posted by: dj spellchecka on July 27, 2010 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Newt is serious about raising money for Newt. Once that mission is accomplished Newt will disappear again for 4 years.

Posted by: jeff on July 27, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich has a "professorial" reputation because mainstream political pundits like Chris Matthews and George Steponallofus say so.

He's a prosperous, well fed, older white man with distinguished looking grey hair. His self assured speech is litered with political jargon and name droping. He's right about everything, his opponents are always stupid, wrong, or evil.

So, of course he has legitimacy on any subject he chooses to speak on.

When one of Palin's handlers figures out that she looks smarter and appears to have more gravitas when she wears eye glasses, Matthews, Schmuck Todd, Chris Thilliza, and Steponallofus will begin to deride Scowcroft, Powell, Schultz, and the rest as the out of touch old guard.

Posted by: Winkandanod on July 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Newt Gingrich, a twenty-first century Harold Stassen.

Posted by: fafner1 on July 27, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Serial draft-dodger and war monger cum national security expert Newtie "physical coward-traitor" Gingrich will give a (well-received) speech on national security. One, I'm sure, that will call for a more muscular foreign policy and possibly the invasion of Iran and North Korea (with other people's children, I'm sure). I fell through the rabbit hole--again.

Posted by: tec619 on July 27, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Gingrich, a leading conservative Republican, has "a ton of ideas to move the country forward," former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a past chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."

"There are no ideas in the Republican Party right now in the Congress," Dean said. "They're the party of 'no.' They desperately need some intellectual leadership. And whatever you think of Newt Gingrich, he can supply intellectual leadership. So I hope he does run."

http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/07/25/gingrich.dean/index.html

Once again Doc: Engage Brain, THEN Start Mouth.

Posted by: cr on July 27, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

No one that ever said that Rudy Giuliani had significant national security expertise should be allowed to claim the same for themselves.

Posted by: rk on July 27, 2010 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich may have a professorial reputation, but he wasn't professorial enough for the University of West Georgia, where he was denied tenure. Then he went into politics.

Posted by: Colin Laney on July 27, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: dkkdshdghiw on July 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

CAMUS!

Posted by: AlphaLiberal on July 27, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Classic. Using Orwell to argue for a perpetual state of war. I'm surprised he didn't say "We've always been at war with Eastasia."
Newt is brilliant. I find him irresistible, even as he becomes ever more despicable.

Posted by: Govt Skeptic on July 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK
This isn't to say the entire Republican Party is devoid of credible voices on national security and foreign policy; ...(List of antique republicans)...all approach these issues with at least some seriousness and stature.

Of course it is true that most current repukes would have been dixierats in the "good old days", of the early 20th century.
In the mid 19th century, some simply would have been rebels or , more likely, skedaddled from the area till hostilities abated.

Too bad the North had only one Sherman.

Posted by: cwolf on July 27, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Benen psyche is always refreshingly transparent.

Something has changed, he's now worried about Newt Gingrich's renewed rise and prominence. It's a threat to his home team, the most radical Leftist Democrats.

Posted by: Anil Petra on July 27, 2010 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

The only national security issues that Republicans "own" anymore is the hyper-nationalistic rah-rah that wears camos and can sometimes win elections. But actual expertise that makes sense in the real world? Nada.

Posted by: Ted Frier on July 27, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Camus? Orwell? Newtie sure doesn't know much about them. Both writers were socialists/communists and atheists. Of course, Newtie's audience won't bother to research them, so he can get away with it.

Posted by: athena on July 27, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of sounding shallow, Gingrich is truly a loathsome and ugly figure. Not only is he pompous, mean-spirited, self-serving and down-right goofy...he's physically repellent. And that's the poison cherry on top of the Newt Gingrich sundae.

Posted by: SaintZak on July 27, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

one would think that since Islam is friendly toward a man having multiple wives that Newt would be first in line to convert.

How *is* the wife doing these days, Newt?

Posted by: andy on July 27, 2010 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

It's a definitional thing. Define 'national security' as 'bombing the shit out of brown people who worship the wrong God(s) without let or hindrance on the flimsiest of pretense', which is what it means to the man on the street, and the GOP wins going away, with some of its luminaries like Newt coming out even further ahead. The Democrats make a stab at it from time to time, but their hears aren't in it.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina@gmail.com on July 27, 2010 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

He's gonna quote a Frenchy and a Brit in a speech at the AEI? AH-hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on July 27, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Again, you use the term "disgraced former House Speaker...." When and by whom? Why don't you drop the "disgraced?" I am willing to bet that you are the only one who uses this term. I very much doubt the MSM ever uses it, not that I ever read it, so could be wrong.

Every time I see this term, I want to scream. That is all I wanted to say.

Posted by: st john on July 27, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

You can reason with this crowd. Gingrich successfully led Republicans to impeach disgraced and disbarred President Clinton -- a feat that Democrats didn't even manage with Richard Nixon -- staining the party and the man indelibly. For that, he is forever an object of derision ... and an embodiment of their worst fears.

Posted by: Anil Petra on July 27, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Anil Petra - You are too right. Please make sure to donate to Newt Gingrinch, and even volunteer with his organization. There is no national leader that the Democrats fear more. Victory will be ours in 2012!

Posted by: Ra on July 27, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK
There is no national leader that the Democrats fear more.

I live in dread that Newt will unleash the kind of electoral steamroller he let loose on the Democrats as Speaker in '98.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 27, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Newt the national security expert is about as impressive as Newt the constitutional scholar ('1st Amendment shouldn't apply in the US until it applies in Saudi Arabia').

Posted by: smintheus on July 27, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Gingrich has exactly zero experience on foreign policy, military affairs, and national security. "

So he'll be an even match for Obama.

Posted by: Rob S. on July 27, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich the Newt is puffed up like a toad
So full of himself that he's bound to explode
And then we'll raise up our tails in salute
A fitting tribute
To that horse's patoot
Gingrich the Newt

from "Gingrich the Newt" by the Austin Lounge Lizards

Posted by: FShoeFitzwearit on July 27, 2010 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich plans to draw on "the lessons of Camus and Orwell" to explain "the dangers of a wartime government that uses language and misleading labels to obscure reality."

Oh, great, so NOW he's going to speak out against the Cheney/Bush administration. Finally. Way to step up, Mr. Pissypants. Where were you when your country needed you, divorcing another wife at the hospital?

Posted by: josef on July 27, 2010 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course, since this same group [of Republicans and hawks] also happens to agree with President Obama on national security and foreign policy"

Some people might think the fact that a bunch of Republicans and neo-cons agree with Obama's foreign policy is a sign that Obama's policies might be too hawkish.

If Obama drops some bunker-busters on Iran, would this place still sing his praises?

Posted by: flubber on July 27, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

@ cr

"Once again Doc: Engage Brain, THEN Start Mouth."

Check the timeline. The Dean scream didn't do him in, 'cos he was already done.

The lethal moment was when the Bushies rubbed their hands with glee and said "Oh, please give us Dean and we'll give you your next McGovern." Dead in the water immediately thereafter, hence Kerry.

Dean's returning the favour. "Oh please give us Newt, because he's an intellectual leader." To which the GOP will agree in unison "We don't want no steenkin' intellectual picked by the Dems." Palin spikes.

Brilliant.

Posted by: Sparky Satori on July 27, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

andy, shouldn't that be: "How's *this* wife doing these days, Newt?"

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