Political Animal


August 28, 2012 1:46 PM “Facts” and Newt U.

By Ed Kilgore

The big discussion in the progressive blogosphere today is the rather remarkable admission by Team Romney that they could not care less about the universal condemnation of its race-baiting welfare ads by fact-checkers and in fact absolutely everyone who is not deep into GOP hackery. Brother Benen, who has painstakingly catalogued Mitt Romney’s many prevarications and outright inventions, thinks Team Mitt may have finally approached honesty in proclaiming its lack of interest in facts:

It’s important to realize there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen — he’s deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power.

Yeah, we’re all a bit in awe of the Romney campaign’s brazenness and his Boss Tweedesque “What Are You Going To Do About It?” challenge to critics.

But it’s important to understand that Romney is leading a party with a rather different idea of “facts”—one that depends on the kind of deeper knowledge that you get from your average right-wing talk show caller who is on to the liberals and knows what’s really going on regardless of any verifiable objective reality.

It’s the kind of “facts” proclaimed in Tampa, as a matter of “fact,” by Professor Newt Gingrich whose “Newt U.” is aimed at instructing delegates and other true conservatives in the deeper knowledge that comes when you liberate yourself from the lies of media reporting, science, the historical record, and other imprisoning constructs. Check out this neat inversion by the Good Professor:

“We tell the truth less effectively than Democrats lie,” he said as class came to order. This was the first of four Newt U sessions designed to fix that, by teaching GOP delegates to tell the truth as well as Gingrich himself. “We want a fact-based campaign,” he said.

Yeah, that’s probably why the star of Newt U.’s initial session on Medicare was none other than Betsey McCaughey, originator of the “death panel” smear and long before that, the prevaricating author of an “analysis” of the Clinton Health Plan for whose publication the New Republic has abjectly and repeatedly apologized.

Today’s Newt U. session will be on small business and civil society, and will feature among others those highly successful business people Newt and Callista Gingrich.

Now experts differ as to whether Newt is remotely as smart and well educated as he professes himself to be, or is, as observers dating back to his students at West Georgia College have often thought, something of a flake with a flair for grandiosity, buzzwords, and staying an inch ahead of tomorrow’s CW. But if he is the Truth Wizard for the GOP, no wonder they don’t give a damn about fact-checkers. Like Newt in his many reincarnations, they’ll just make it up as they go.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Rich on August 28, 2012 2:00 PM:

    Newt U uses a platform that is part of WaPo's Kaplan diploma mill business. I wonder how the Post will deal with that.

  • Gummo on August 28, 2012 2:11 PM:

    As has been so famously said, Newt Gingrich is a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like.

    There are millions of stupid people lining up to drink the Republican kool-aid. So they need to churn out more phoney 'smart' people to deal with them.

  • anonymous on August 28, 2012 2:11 PM:

    This is a fundamental test for Democrats, progressives, and the media in this election - whether they can make the Romney campaign pay for blatant lying. If not, if blatant lying can succeed at the Presidential level on such an easily checked issue,then there is no future for serious political discourse and liars with large megaphones will govern. If blatant liars are made to pay a penalty, there is some hope that political discourse will be at least loosely tethered to facts.

  • Lee G. on August 28, 2012 2:12 PM:

    As has often been said elsewhere, Newt is a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like.

  • Rabbler on August 28, 2012 2:23 PM:

    For how long have both? parties been lying in their platforms to throw a wider net? For how long have absurdities and impossibilities abounded there? Does this practice give tacit validity to ideas that are reckless and dangerous? Did this practice of lying in the platform help to lead the GOP into the abyss?

  • Snarki, child of Loki on August 28, 2012 2:28 PM:

    Even if the media brackets every report about Romney with big "Documented LIAR" notation, the true believers in the GOP will take that as validation that the "LIEberal MSM" is out to get them, and believe even more fervently.

    Belief is not based on facts, or logic, or anything rational.

    Want to see what happens when a culture follows their beliefs in the face of inconvenient facts? Visit Easter Island.

    Right now, the GOP is worshiping the stone heads on their convention stage. It will not end well.

  • jjm on August 28, 2012 2:37 PM:

    If the Big Lie wins here as it did in Germany in the 1930s we are in for a world of pain.

    I don't think it necessarily will; the internet is starting to feel a bit daunting to the mainstream media. But they have to step up and do their duty as news people, rather than seconding the GOP all the way.

  • boatboy_srq on August 28, 2012 2:40 PM:


    That guarantees the 27% base voting bloc. but Romney already had that - or enough of it as makes no never mind, since come November all that group does is look for the R behind the candidates' names and select based on that. There may, however, still be a few in the GOP for whom the monumental falsehoods of the Romney campaign may become too much to swallow: it's one thing to expect a politician to play fast and loose with the truth, and quite another to give a pass to a candidate who can't even keep to the same untruth throughout a single speech. Any we can break off the core who are sufficiently disgusted with Romney not to vote for him will help.

  • MuddyLee on August 28, 2012 2:45 PM:

    So Newt and Callista are also job creators? They could create product for Black Kow in Oxford FL (80 miles north of Tampa - I recommend it as a place for the delegates to visit after the convention if they want some reality therapy).

    Republican four letter words: Newt, Mitt, Rand (Ayn and the son of Paul), Ryan, Rush, Cain, Issa, Bush, Dick, Todd - ok I realize this is now going beyond stupid...

  • dweb on August 28, 2012 3:37 PM:

    Fascinating how Gingrich AND Ryan carry labels as "deep thinkers," "policy wonks", "idea people," "brilliant strategists" with no substance to back any of it up.

    Gingrich has been a continuing disaster whose greatest skill is conning gullible conservatives into buying fake honors, tickets to his lectures and copies of his "patriotic" videos, while Ryan, the guy who is going to lead his party to a new economic vision for America responds to questions for specifics about what his budget would do in terms of budget cuts and elimination of existing tax breaks by saying, "We haven't run the numbers yet."

    Paul.....you are Chairman of the House Budget Committee. If you are such a wonk, such an authority on waste and ideas that can produce a shining new dawn in America filled with prosperity and jobs, surely you can, by now, have "run the numbers" and be able to tell us just how your plan works. Or is your plan, as Shrub used to say....."All hat and no cattle."

  • majun on August 28, 2012 3:37 PM:

    The Romneyites are not lying and they are not telling the truth. They are being consistent with the main tenent of the modern right wing as originally defined by Stephen Colbert - Truthiness.

    Truthiness is a quality characterizing a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" or because it "feels right" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

    Empirical evidence often just clouds the rightness of one's gut instincts.

  • PTate in MN on August 28, 2012 4:02 PM:

    "...Romney is leading a party with a rather different idea of “facts”—one that depends on the kind of deeper knowledge that you get from your average right-wing talk show caller who is on to the liberals and knows what’s really going on regardless of any verifiable objective reality.

    In clinical practice, I believe this thought pattern would be considered diagnostic of paranoia. If you figure that about 16% of the population are significantly higher on this trait than the rest of us, that's roughly 48 million people, enough to allow them to get together periodically to discuss among themselves how liberals (...or blacks, Jews, illegal immigrants, and homosexuals, pick your scapegoat) are the cause of all our problems.

    And, interestingly, 47 million Americans are registered Republicans. Coincidence? I think not.