Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 13, 2010

QUOTE OF THE DAY.... Over the weekend, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told National Review that the best way to fully appreciate President Obama's decisions is to "understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior."

David Frum explains that what Gingrich wants Americans to believe is, "[A]t his deepest personal level, what Barack Obama really wants to do is strip white property owners of everything they possess." Frum added:

When last was there such a brazen outburst of race-baiting in the service of partisan politics at the national level? George Wallace took more care to sound race-neutral.

I wish I'd come up with that one.

In any case, it's interesting to see a few Republicans starting to distance themselves from Gingrich's rhetoric today. Andy Card this morning described himself as "disappointed" with Newt's crazy remarks, while Joe Scarborough asked incredulously of Gingrich, "What is he doing?"

It's hard to know when racially-charged rhetoric from high-profile Republicans will become problematic -- alas, it's not as uncommon as it should be -- but it's at least mildly encouraging to see Gingrich catch some flak for his latest lunacy. Ideally, it'd be a lot more intense, but we engage in political discourse that we have, not the discourse we might want or wish to have at a later time.

There are two other angles to keep an eye on. The first is that Gingrich's ugly language almost certainly won't affect his standing as a media darling. The man who was driven from power by his own party, and who hasn't held office at any level in more than a decade, is still treated as credible by major media outlets. I'm guessing his deranged, racist attitudes towards the president will have no bearing on this whatsoever.

The second is that the Democratic base, listless and uninspired, often responds in the face of Republican hatred. I can imagine the DNC, for example, going with this message to rank-and-file Dems: "Newt Gingrich thinks Obama is engaged in 'Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.' Newt Gingrich is going to vote on November 2. Newt Gingrich hopes you don't."

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers

Posted by: bob on September 13, 2010 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

For over a decade Newt's been the point man on anti-Democratic, anti-Liberal nuttiness.
Well, with Palin, Angle, Paul, O'Donnell, Bachmann, et al, in the public eye, he's had to up his lunacy.

C'mon, Conservatives and Repulicans, go ahead. Go ahead and scream "N****R!" a few, or 11, times.
You'll feel better.
You know you want to.

It's a sad state of affairs when even George Wallace would be too sedate, sane and open-minded to even run as a Republican in their "Southern Strategy."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on September 13, 2010 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Gingrich is a despicable piece of garbage and should crawl back into his hole.
Seems like another piece of right wing trash is getting his come uppance, Americablog reports that Jones/Dove have done some creative reporting to the IRS and looks like he may have been cheating his 30 or so parishioners out of church funds - re a mortgage situation.

Posted by: joan on September 13, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

And people wonder why he's a DISGRACED former Speaker??? There was much more to THAT than met the eye...

Posted by: SYSPROG on September 13, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Pat Buchanan is still around.

Posted by: Mudge on September 13, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, now that's a Really Stupid thing to say!

Posted by: T- rollop on September 13, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

You won't read about it in the WaPo, but Republicans have a serious problem-- all the politicians and ex-politicians who represent the party in public are some combination of deeply unattractive, morally compromised and/or bugfuck crazy. And this includes Newt, needless to say...

Posted by: MattF on September 13, 2010 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans have an uncomfortable line to walk. They have to distance themselves and dismiss as fringe outbursts like Newt's here or the whole Terry Jones thing, while continuing to insist that all the other things Republicans have been saying-- even though they're basically the same thing, just worded more carefully-- are mainstream, correct and beyond criticism as free speech. Remember, nothing Newt said BEFORE this crossed the line for Republicans, and the GOP's September 11 address given by Jon Kyl as good as endorsed what Newt's been saying for months.

Posted by: mcc on September 13, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Frum thinks Gingrich makes good Republicans look bad:

Conservatives object to the Obama administration as too expensive, too regulatory, too intrusive, too beholden to Democratic special interest groups, and too apologetic about America’s role in the world. It’s a libel to claim that we object to the administration as too black or too alien.

Who's this we, paleface?

Posted by: Lucia on September 13, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Scarborough asked incredulously of Gingrich, "What is he doing?"

He is trying to sell books and get free publicity on cable news. It is working. Ill bet every show has a segment on Newt tonight.

Posted by: RolloTomasi on September 13, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

So did Newt get his new talking point from Dinesh D'Souza: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0927/politics-socialism-capitalism-private-enterprises-obama-business-problem.html

Posted by: Jim Long on September 13, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

It is absolutely fascinating to me that the Republicans just can't stop themselves from spelling out their dog whistles. It wasn't enough for them to say "Kenyan" or claim that Obama was going to turn us into a carbon copy of Zimbabwe (ie he's going to steal white peoples' stuff and give it to black people).

Nope, they just have to spell it all out for us, like Eric Idle saying, "Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more!"

Posted by: Mnemosyne on September 13, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I believe Newton Gingrich is right but for the wrong reasons.

Obama was raised by Chicago politicians, which means Irish politicians. While Obama claimed to be a member of a black protestant church, he was working for the Cardinal. The whole hierarchy in Chicago is Irish.

You think Kenyans are anti-colonial?

The British still haven't left northeastern Ireland.

Posted by: Thaumaturgist on September 13, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Well Thaumaturgist, that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I guess Thaumaturgist counts as our daily dose of stupid.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on September 13, 2010 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

It has to be gettind difficult for the conservatives right about now.

All their talking points are basically two years old, or older, and already well-rehearsed and well-repeated by their audience. They have two more months to keep their portion of the American populous enraged and upset. They are getting stale, and it's taking crazier more desperate rhetoric to mass-brainwash the unwashed brainless. Since the conservative leadership has long hit rock bottom with their complete lack of plausible solutions and overabundance of finger-pointing at everyone else but themselves, the media circus that now stands in for serious Republicans should get quite entertaining.

Posted by: Skip on September 13, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

As much as Steve laments the attention paid to Gingrich (or McCain, or Palin) by the TV Talk shows, he too can't resist paying attention to the long out-of-power and disgraced former speaker.

Are there no Democrats (or Republicans) saying things more worthy of notice than this private citizen's empty-headed blathering?

Posted by: Patrick (G) on September 13, 2010 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

We republicans are NOT RACIST! Newt is just pointing out the obvious that we would not be having a race problem if we did not have the n1gg*r in the White House!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 13, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly, anyone whose philosophy includes opposition to the British Empire is someone we don't want anywhere near this here country of ours. Patrick Henry, see ya later.

It's like Glenn Beck's new fixation on Obama's "liberation theology." REMEMBER, liberation theology = BROWN PEOPLE!!!

Posted by: rabbit on September 13, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

This is especially funny coming after the major op-ed piece in the Sunday Washington Post was a lengthy one arguing that the GOP is certainly not racist.

Posted by: Jon on September 13, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, well, Andy Card and Joe Scarborough can express disappointment and incredulity, but will Gingrich be sidelined over this?

Of course not!

Why would he be?

Hold your applause for Scarborough and Card -- they are simply playing their parts.

Republicans get the best of both worlds -- they get to dog-whistle to their base while making themselves appear reasonable to the general public.

Posted by: karen marie on September 13, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

What baffles me is, where is all this seething black rage Gingrich claims to see in Obama? The standard knock on him from the left is that he doesn't show enough passion, and keeps his cool too well. Sheesh, if Maureen Dowd makes one more "Obama is Spock" joke, most of us are going to throw up. He obviously knows something the likes of Dowd don't about the image of an angry black man. But it appears that if Newt has his way, Obama will get that reputation no matter what he does, and then Newt will go on to attack him for being so dishonest about hiding his inner militant Luo tribesman.

What a clever ruse, running as a moderate, slightly left-of-center Democrat who advocates Democratic principles of long standing, and then governs the same way! Not till decades after he leaves office will the deadly tiny time pills that he planted in the Oval Office go off, using an ancient witch-doctor's formula from Africa to turn his successor in the Presidency from a conservative white guy into a raving, Alinsky-type radical lunatic. It's pure evil, I tell you, pure evil. [sarcasm]

Posted by: T-Rex on September 13, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Until Newt started on this subject, I would have thought that anti-colonial was a good thing. We've already had several presidents who were anti-colonial as could be: Washington, Adams, Jefferson just to name a few.

Posted by: Emily on September 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

As Rollo Tomasi alludes above, Noot is just trying to capture a piece of the news cycle for his very own, and looks to be doing fairly well at that. The electorate will never remember, more than a month from now, what he said. But the myth that he is a "free-thinking intellekshool" will persist.

Posted by: Mark on September 13, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

In any case, it's interesting to see a few Republicans starting to distance themselves from Gingrich's rhetoric today. Andy Card this morning described himself as "disappointed" with Newt's crazy remarks, while Joe Scarborough asked incredulously of Gingrich, "What is he doing?"

Republicans can safely use Scarborough's show to repudiate anything that they think might not sit well with Independents and conservative Democrats since they know that nobody from the base will be watching. A repudiation of right wing nuttiness doesn't count for crap unless it is done on Fox. That's just the way it is. Anyplace else and it is just political double speak.

Posted by: Majun on September 13, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Skip @ 2:15 PM has pointed out the weak spot in the Republican/Teabagger armor: they've ALREADY spent two years frothing in rage at anything the President and Democratic Party suggests, let alone tries to do. The only way to maintain their base's motivation is to CONTINUE to ramp up the rhetoric; it's already passed insane, but they'll have to go even further.
The right-wing rhetoric has gotten so extreme it's likely to cost them Senate elections thy would otherwise have easily won; Nevada, Alaska, Kentucky, possibly Delaware, and there are quite a few possible House losses. Certainly, the ranting and "dog whistles" are designed to keep the base enthused, but the base aren't the only ones listening now...
It's that Grand Ole American Tradition: the General Election and campaign speeches are becoming news; news that is being reported by local traditional media and is being, finally, listened to by traditional local voters. Many of whom will be appalled at what they hear and see.
Sooner or later, sooner most likely considering the nut-jobs that will show up at those rallies, words and questions will be shouted out to the candidate that the Republican/Teabagger candidate WON'T want to hear or answer. If the shouts are ignored, the base will be angry; if the candidate agrees with the crowd - well, wouldn't that be a good time for someone from their opponent's campaign to be there? You know, to ensure that the local media gets a "heads-up" on what's happening?
Just to make certain that the public knows the "real" positions of those running for office, of course...

Posted by: Doug on September 13, 2010 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK



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