“You can’t flip-flop and be commander-in-chief.”
- Newt Gingrichon Neil Cavuto, 9/17/04
Let the Newtapalooza Begin!
A day surely as fabled as the first day of Woodstock even though they have nothing to do with each other. Woodstock was a celebration of the Age of Aquarius, while Newt’s tweet, and everything else Gingrich has said in the past several decades has been a celebration of…well…Newt Gingrich.
Of course, as Mother Jones points out, there was not much suspense surrounding the event: “On Monday, a spokesman for Newt Gingrich announced that on Wednesday Gingrich would announce on Twitter and Facebook that he is running for president.”
I am reminded of the old Monty Python bit, where the peasant says that a woman turned him into a newt.
“-She turned me into a newt!
-I got better…”
That’s what we’re hearing from Newt too. He’s gotten better. He’s not even Newt anymore. He’s new and improved Newt. Super Newt. Über Newt! He can replace wives even faster! Flip-flop at record speed! But remember, this is not Woodstock. Hallucinogenics won’t help.
Probably with that thought in mind, PoliticalCorrection.org instead celebrates the moment by examining Gingrich’s “outstanding record of political and moral malfeasance in his decades-long effort to promote himself.” Their appraisal is merciless in its examination of the facts:
From his personal and professional ethical transgressions to his crusade against the working class, Gingrich continues to thrive in the shadows of fiscal corruption and the spotlight of right-wing hyperbole. Despite his rocky marital past and remarkably hypocritical and extremist rhetoric, Gingrich unabashedly vaunts himself as the country’s moral compass without a hint of irony, consistently waging an ideological war in an effort to maintain his own relevance.
Republicans hate nothing more than having the past – the actual past, not the past they just invented – brought up and held against them. The only thing worse is actually quoting them. PoliticalCorrection.org does both here, looking at the Newtapalooza via several relevant categories:
Mother Jones takes a crack at New too, speaking of “his messy personal life (two divorces, three marriages), his erratic policy pronouncements, his combative politicking.”
But given that Gingrich has thirty-plus years of extreme conduct, many of his past excesses end up being truncated and compacted into characterizations. (“Known for his often controversial remarks…”) The full Newt is often given short shrift.
They then fix that oversight by giving us in their own words “a very long list” of Gingrich’s “rhetorical extremism” beginning in 1978 when Gingrich told college Republicans:
“I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, and loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words.” He added, “Richard Nixon…Gerald Ford…They have done a terrible job, a pathetic job. In my lifetime, in my lifetime—I was born in 1943—we have not had a competent national Republican leader. Not ever.”
Of course, we all Newt thinks he has solved that lapse in himself. Mother Jones then goes on to quote Gingrich’s 1980 remark:
“The reality is that this country is in greater danger than at any time since 1939.”
And here I thought that’s what he was telling us now? So are we in more danger than we were in 1980? Or in more danger than we were in 1939? I’m just trying to throw 2011 on the scales and see where we stand.
Of course, where we stand for Newt varies from moment to moment. Witness the recent Newtacle surrounding American aid to the Libyan rebels:
- March 7. Gingrich is asked by Greta Van Susteren of Fox News what he would do about Muammar Qaddafi actions in Libya. Newt’s answer was, “Exercise a no-fly zone this evening,” he replied. “All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening…. All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes.”
- March 23. he tells Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today show: “I would not have intervened…. I would not have used American and European forces, bombing Arabs and that country.”
Egads. Can you imagine Newt as president, one minute bombing a country and in the next deciding it was the most horrible decision in the world and standing down? It’s bad enough that American voters don’t know from one minute to the next what Newt thinks. We don’t need to set that kind of example before the world.
Sadly, this is not the first time Newt has changed his mind. He makes John Kerry look steadfast and constant by way of comparison.
Remember when he was all for cap-and-trade? He agreed with Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi, the two people most demonized (besides Obama himself) by conservatives today. You can’t be a viable candidate in 2012 if you agree with heretics like Gore and Pelosi.
But now Newt says cap-and-trade is an “energy tax” and of course, today’s Republicans hate taxes
It is difficult to find a subject on which Newt has not Newtflopped, from climate change to healthcare. Regarding the latter you might remember how in 2008 Gingrich suggested “insurance mandates for people who earn more than $75,000 a year.” In 2010 he was telling Sean Hannity at Fox News that health insurance mandates were unconstitutional.
All of which brings us back to Newt’s words of 2004 and the Newtacle in the making:
“You can’t flip-flop and be commander-in-chief.”
But Newt is a habitual flip-flopper. It’s possible he doesn’t even know he’s doing it; he may not even realize he has a problem. What’s needed is an intervention. And a problem this deep demands a big intervention.
I suggest that what is needed is America withholding her vote. Don’t vote for Newt. Not in the primaries and if you can’t cowboy up and do what’s needed then, certainly not in the presidential election. Nobody. Zero votes. Zoom ahead to Election Day 2012 and Newt looking at his tally of 0 votes. Imagine Newt trying to make heads or tails of his complete lack of appeal to anybody other than himself and his most recent wife or girlfriend/wife-to-be.
Tough love, America. That’s what Newt needs. Let Newt know he should have stayed retired, because when Newt says he got better, Newt’s being less than honest with us – and himself. And let’s face it: America doesn’t need Newt and Newt really doesn’t need America as long as he has himself.
Let self-approbation be its own reward. The gods punish hubris (and so should the American voter), and Newt’s reward is long overdue.