More thread for those who would like to discuss Newt Gingrich

Mark Kleiman offers an optimistic angle on the recent South Carolina Republican primary:

In a Southern Republican primary, adultery turned out to be less of a burden for a candidate than Cayman Islands bank accounts. That reflects a clearer moral sense than I would have credited Southern Republicans with.

You may recall that Newt Gingrich drew criticism for saying this:

If the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks, and not be satisfied with food stamps.

Southern Baptist ethics czar Richard Land stepped in to defend his friend from charges that Gingrich’s statement was racist:

Newt Gingrich recently created a stir over statements linked to race, receiving criticism for linking food stamps specifically with the African American community. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, came to Gingrich’s defense, saying the NAACP was being “a little too sensitive” about the comments. He also added his own analysis on how to get minorities “off the liberal plantation and out of the liberal barrio.”

Let no one accuse Richard Land of being “too sensitive” about statements accusing all black people of being lazy parasites.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kish

    That would explain why he talks about “Christian family values” LOUDER every time he cheats on or divorces one of his wives.

    Here I thought he was just a hypocrite.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    *The Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996 would have mandated life in
    prison for anyone importing drugs into the US above a very low
    threshold (2 oz for pot) and mandatory execution for repeat offenders.
    The law was not limited to violent offenders.

    If that bill had passed, Rush Limbaugh would be doing hard time right now?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    “New Gingrich sounds like a dumb person’s idea of a smart person.” – Not sure where I heard this one, but it sounds about right to me.

  • JohnK

    Emphasis on sounds – and often only if the audience / listener doesn’t know anything about the subject on which he is speaking.

    Exactly, which is usually the case. How many actual historians end up moderating debates for the Cato Institute, or interviewing politicians on primetime?

    The example that I mentioned earlier (about the Northwest Ordinance) was from an interview that Gingrich did with Glenn Beck. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Beck’s work (he hasn’t been on the air for a while now) but he’s probably one of the bombastically, pridefully ignorant men to ever grace American television.

    During the interview, Beck would try his best — which isn’t much, by the way — to trap Gingrich or make him look bad, and Gingrich would duck and weave by spouting historical allusions. Beck clearly had no idea what Gingrich was talking about, so the interview basically consisted of Beck asking Gingrich a question about his policies or his statements, Gingrich backing them up by referring to something a Founding Father said or something that happened in Chile decades ago, and Beck just accepting it and moving onto the next question.

    Beck isn’t even an extreme example. Most interviewers can’t keep up with a guy who name-drops Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin like they were old college buddies. They could and should do the research afterwards, but even if they do it’s usually too late. People are going to remember Gingrich having the “backing” of the Constitution or all this historical evidence much more vividly than they will remember the dull historian corrections released three days later during a slow news hour.

    Speaking of which — does not Gingrich mock Romney for having learned
    French. Gingrich’s PhD dissertation was about the Belgian Congo and I
    hope that the man was able to read primary sources rather than rely on
    translations (which would have required at least some French.)

    To my knowledge, Gingrich actually lived in France for a few years at some point. He went after Romney for being able to say, “Je m’appelle Mitt Romney”, which I believe is literally the first thing anyone who takes French learns how to say.

    To be fair, I think the deliberate intent wasn’t specifically to mock Romney for speaking French but to compare Romney to John Kerry. Romney, who used to brag about fighting harder for gay rights than Ted Kennedy, is having to veer sharply to the right during this election cycle. Linking him in any way, no matter how preposterous, to a liberal Democrat could derail that.

  • Lori

    No, I don’t think so. Because he’s a rich white man Rush had the privilege of abusing prescription drugs which weren’t covered by the law.  Also, did he buy the Viagra in the whichever tropical center of the sex trade he visited or did he buy it here, take it with him and then get caught bringing back the leftovers? Assuming that it was the latter and the drugs originated in the US, would bringing them back even count as importation? 

  • mmy

    interviewers can’t keep up with a guy who name-drops Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin like they were old college buddies. They could and should do the research afterwards, but even if they do it’s usually too late. People are going to remember Gingrich having the “backing” of the Constitution or all this historical evidence much more vividly than they will remember the dull historian corrections released three days later during a slow news hour.

    Fortunately or unfortunately I was doing intense preparation for writing my Ph.D. PoliSci/Americanist qualification exams during the time Gingrich was Speaker and would sit at home reading with C-Span on in the background. So I was PAINFULLY aware of just how wrong Gingrich was. The question I had was whether Gingrich knew he was wrong (that is, he was consciously lying) or whether he had worked himself into a psychological position wherein he couldn’t believe he was wrong and a) he responded to questioners with whatever statement suited his case and then b) believing himself incapable of being wrong anything he said automatically became (in his mind) truth.
    To my knowledge, Gingrich actually lived in France for a few years at some point. He went after Romney for being able to say, “Je m’appelle Mitt Romney”, which I believe is literally the first thing anyone who takes French learns how to say.

    I wish that American commentators would call him on it. — that when he makes one of the “he speaks French” cracks that the person he was speaking to would immediately respond “so you did a Ph.D. on a French speaking country without knowing how to read or write the language — did you?”

    BTW, according to my Grade 3 teacher the first sentence you should learn to say in French is  Bonjour, comment allez-vous aujourd’hui? Typically Canadian — we were supposed to ask after the other person before introducing ourselves.

  • JohnK

    BTW,
    according to my Grade 3 teacher the first sentence you should learn to
    say in French is  Bonjour, comment allez-vous aujourd’hui? Typically
    Canadian — we were supposed to ask after the other person before
    introducing ourselves.

    Oh, I didn’t know that! That’s actually pretty interesting — a neat cultural note!

    I wish that American commentators would call him on it. — that when he
    makes one of the “he speaks French” cracks that the person he was
    speaking to would immediately respond “so you did a Ph.D. on a French
    speaking country without knowing how to read or write the language —
    did you?”

    I know some columnists did, but honestly, I don’t think most people cared. Most people viewing that ad knew it wasn’t really about speaking French. The ad featured juxtaposed images with Romney with next to other liberal Democratic candidates (Kerry, Dukakis, etc.) The message wasn’t “Ha ha, he speaks French!  How awful!” it was more like “Ha ha, he says he’s a Tea Party conservative but he’s really just a liberal Republican-in-name-only! Voting for this guy would be like voting for Michael Dukakis or John Kerry!”

    It would have been good if they had called him out on his blatant hypocrisy but it wouldn’t have undercut his message that much because his main argument was that he was more consistently conservative than Romney. Which is… basically true.

    The question I had was whether Gingrich knew he was wrong (that is, he
    was consciously lying) or whether he had worked himself into a
    psychological position wherein he couldn’t believe he was wrong and a)
    he responded to questioners with whatever statement suited his case and
    then b) believing himself incapable of being wrong anything he said
    automatically became (in his mind) truth

    It could be both, couldn’t it? Sometimes people misremember things, especially if they’re speaking extemporaneously. (It’s happened to me, at least!) Our political system doesn’t reward admitting your mistakes or clarifying errors — even extremely minor errors about irrelevent details.

    (Witness Michele Bachmann insisting that John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father — she clearly meant to talk about his father, but when she was corrected instead of just admitting she flubbed she came up with this cockamie store about how Adams’s young son was an honorary member of the Founding Fathers due to running odd jobs around the house or something. This wasn’t some fraught controversial political issue — she just confused his name with a name that was almost exactly the same, but she couldn’t admit that so she had to come up with an entire newly founding myth for America on the fly, that featured sidekicks, like some kind of comic book. It was ridiculous.)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t really know why anyone would use the phrase “liberal barrio.”  “Barrio” is a fairly neutral word; plenty of American Latinos are proud to say they live in one.  I mean, there are plenty of issues with barrios and de facto segregation and governmental neglect and stuff, but the word is hardly equivalent to “ghetto,” let alone “plantation.”

  • Lori

     
     Bonjour, comment allez-vous aujourd’hui?  

      

    I think we may have learned this first in my high school French class, but that was a long time ago so I could be wrong. 

  • Lori

     
     I mean, there are plenty of issues with barrios and de facto segregation and governmental neglect and stuff, but the word is hardly equivalent to “ghetto,” let alone “plantation.”  

     

    This is a very good point. The Latinos I’ve known didn’t seem to treat barrio as automatically negative. White people are the ones who think barrio and ghetto always have the same connotations. Which is yet another reason to strongly suspect that it was Land’s (racist white man) phrasing rather than a direct quote from Latinos. 

  • Lori

     
     I mean, there are plenty of issues with barrios and de facto segregation and governmental neglect and stuff, but the word is hardly equivalent to “ghetto,” let alone “plantation.”  

     

    This is a very good point. The Latinos I’ve known didn’t seem to treat barrio as automatically negative. White people are the ones who think barrio and ghetto always have the same connotations. Which is yet another reason to strongly suspect that it was Land’s (racist white man) phrasing rather than a direct quote from Latinos. 

  • Termudgeon

    He’s not a professor. He was once, a very long time ago, an assistant professor who then failed to get tenure. Otoh, he’s also the highest- paid “historian” ever.

  • mmy

    In the American system you are referred to as a professor if you teach at a college and you hold a Ph.D. you don’t sign letters as “Professor Gingrich” but you are properly referred to as professor. 

    So, Newt was a professor and now he is a former speaker (do Americans realize that not everyone continues to refer to people by the titles they no longer hold?) and if he was speaking at a university or an academic panel he could be referred to as Dr. Gingrich. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    do Americans realize that not everyone continues to refer to people by the titles they no longer hold?

    I thought they just did that for Presidents. Does it apply to everyone?

    Cos in that case we can all be The Virgin Mary [insert one’s own name for Mary]

    :)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The French thing has come up in Presidential politics again?

    Gotta say, “you know things” was a remarkably pissweak insult even back when I was 13.

  • mmy


    I thought they just did that for Presidents. Does it apply to everyone?

    They keep calling Gingrinch “Speaker Gingrich” and Alan Keyes “Ambassador Keyes” and every single retired military officer they have on CNN and FOX gets referred to by the rank they retired from. Chris Dodd (of SOPA/PIPA fame) is routinely referred to as Senator Dodd, etc.

  • Emcee, cubed

    (do Americans realize that not everyone continues to refer to people by the titles they no longer hold?)

    Oh, thank goodness! I didn’t know for sure that other places didn’t do it, but it certainly drives me nuts here. They keep referring to Newt as “Mr. Speaker”. Every time they say it, I’m looking around for Boehner.

    And even more annoying to me, as someone who lived in PA at the time, they refer to Santorum as “Senator”. No. No, he isn’t. I take great pride in the fact that we stripped him of that title by one of the largest margins ever in history. (I believe that as an incumbent senator at the time, he received just 18% of the vote.) He doesn’t get to get it back just because he had enough money to launch a presidential campaign that only went anywhere in one state because no one wanted to vote for the guy from MA.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Oh, thank goodness! I didn’t know for sure that other places didn’t do it, but it certainly drives me nuts here.

    We (Australians) certainly don’t. When the media is talking about someone they might say “former justice Michael Kirby” or “former Prime Minister John Howard” in the first reference to get your bearings, but the “former” is always there and it’s never used as a title. If everyone knows who you’re talking about you just say “Michael Kirby” and “that bastard Howard”, respectively.

    Must get very confusing to have a whole lot of people going around with the same titles.

  • Lori

    Sadly, in the US you retain your highest government title as an honorarium for life. That’s really a terrible idea and we need to stop doing it, but I don’t see that happening. I think it’s one of those weird hold-overs from some people wanting to have aristocracy here. They couldn’t get their way on that, but they or their philosophical decedents did succeed in building some odd hierarchical BS into common usage. 

  • P J Evans

     Newt may know lots of facts, but people don’t like him. As a person.

  • P J Evans

     I wish that when they leave office they’d go back to being plain Mr (or whatever applies) Jones. The title belongs to the position, and the position is not theirs. (Of course, I’d also like to see them lose all privileges when they get a job, especially one as a lobbyist, after leaving government.)

  • [Gingrich time] that reminds me of a funny story from my anecdotes book about George H.W. Bush, who was attending a conference in support of his successor Bill Clinton’s trade plan. During the conference, someone referred to him as “President Bush” and he jumped up and shouted, “Ex! Ex! Ex!” Bush wasn’t comfortable with the idea of the title ‘sticking’ with him, like it was a royal title or something.[/Gingrich time]

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Newt may know lots of facts, but people don’t like him. As a person.

    And a lot of the facts he knows ain’t actually so.

  • mmy


    And a lot of the facts he knows ain’t actually so.

    And that is frustratingly true and important. People keep telling me about all these “facts” he knows and yet when I listen to him much of what he says is made up of vague suggestions (that is he implies something and lets the listener ‘make up the facts’ for themselves) or he is telling manifest untruths. Making things up as he goes along.

    In fact there are many instances where the choice is “Good liar” or “bad historian.” 

  • Bificommander

     On ‘the fear of the Republicans electing a crazy cook and winning the presidency’: I recently played a Call of Cthulhu boardgame, where the players must stop a Great Old One from awaking or, failing that, defeat him and putting him back to sleep. At the start of the game, you can pick which monster is preparing to awaken. There’s a couple of weak ones that awaken really easily, but are relatively easy to defeat, up to Cthulhu who’s hard to awaken but hard to beat and finally Azatoth who is the harderst to awaken but who’s first attack if he does awaken is “Destroy the world”. I found the choosing of a monster such a good metaphor for these elections. Should we hope for Romney to win the nomination, who is relatively likely to win but if he does he should at least be competent and not-crazy enough for there to be a country left after 4 years. Or should we hope for a radical who will probably scare the center voters to Obama, but would be disasterous if they actually succeed in becomming president? Tricky question.

  • Lori

    If it makes you feel any better, at least right now neither the more or the less scary GOP possibility is looking likely to win. 

    Newts unfvorables are really high. The GOP establishment hates him because they think he’ll sink the party in the general and polls back them up on that. There’s a segment of the GOP base that finds his meanness appealing because all they want is someone who will smack down the uppity black guy. There aren’t even close to enough of them to win an election though and the very things they like about Newt are generally off-putting to the broader electorate. Newt’s favorable/unfavorables aren’t likely to improve as the campaign goes on, since one thing that has been consistently true about him is that the better most people know him, the less they like him. 

    Rommey’s unfavorables aren’t as high as Newt’s, but they not good for someone who wants to be president and they’ve been climbing steadily. He seems to be so out of touch that he has no realistic sense of how he comes across and as a result people don’t like him. Take the Swiss bank account mess for example. He has known for years that he intended to run this year. Unless he’s been living under a rock he has also been aware since at least 2008 that the economy is crap. Given those realities, how far up his own bum does he have to be to have a Swiss bank account that will show up on the financial disclosures he knows he will have to make? I mean really. 

    Obama’s unfavorables aren’t great, but they’ve been getting better in recent weeks and indications are that that’s at least partially because the GOP field is so horrible that he looks good in comparison. That works out well for him since that’s ultimately what an election is. The longer the GOP primaries go on and the more of Obama’s work they do for him by attacking each other the better his prospects look for November. 

    Nothing is guaranteed, especially not when the economy is bad, but at this point it looks like the GOP may have really screwed itself this year. 

  • Emcee, cubed

    Should we hope for Romney to win the nomination, who is relatively
    likely to win but if he does he should at least be competent and
    not-crazy enough for there to be a country left after 4 years. Or should
    we hope for a radical who will probably scare the center voters to
    Obama, but would be disasterous if they actually succeed in becomming
    president? Tricky question.

    So very this. Except that having listened to some of the debates (haven’t watched all of them. My husband gets mad at me when I yell at the TV, and well…), Mittens has his own personal brand of crazy that isn’t quite as obvious as the others, but is still there.

    And what is really scary about Newt, is that there are rare occasions when he says something that either makes sense, or at least is more enlightened than what the others on stage were saying. Newt has some really scary thoughts on immigration. But those views are held by all of the nominees (with a couple of minor exceptions in Paul). Newt was the only one, though, who said things like people who have been in this country for 25 years, who have families, grandkids, we shouldn’t be throwing them out, and he doesn’t think the American people would stand for it if we did. He also was the only one who mentioned easing restrictions on legal immigration. (Not to give him a total pass, since he also said that the draconian immigration laws in AZ, SC, AL, etc. shouldn’t be challenged)

    I agree with Lori, that to know Newt is to hate him, but those lucid moments are what make me nervous. The people who generally always vote Republican without paying much attention, can point to those moments and say, “See, he can be reasonable, I don’t have to worry about voting for him,” and go ahead and pull that lever.

  • I’m just glad that I don’t have any influence over the nomination, because you’re right, that is a tough choice!

  • *sigh*

    The real target is going to be the next Presidential election. Obama’s going to run on his record, such as it is, while the Republican hopeful will run on trashing that record. The one who can make up their own facts will have the advantage. :|