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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  • Lori

    Ah, Mark Kleiman is so cute. The fact that he thinks the SC election results were about voters having enough moral sense to think offshore bank accounts are more important than adultery. That’s just precise. 

    Kleiman’s point about Sheldon Adelson is a good one, but good luck getting anyone in the GOP to care. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    He also added his own analysis on how to get minorities “off the liberal plantation and out of the liberal barrio.”

    *flabbergasted beyond belief*

    This guy is using the language of discrimination and segregation as a rhetorical weapon against the kinds of people who want an end to that sort of thing???

    *pastes Richard Land’s picture next to the definition of ‘chutzpah’*

  • Anonymous

    It’s always nice when white people lecture black people about what they should think, don’t you agree?

    And, no, I didn’t look at a picture before Richard Land before I made this comment. That’s how confident I am that he’s going to be a middle-aged white man with graying temples.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Please take the prize, John__K. Land’s picture is near the end of the article, and dude fits the description.

  • Brandi

    I think Land decided to skip dog whistles and move straight to air horns.

  • Anonymous

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the Smug Horizon.  Get one centimeter close to Richard Land, and nothing will be able to save you from being crushed out of existence by the Smugularity.

  • Anonymous

    There’s really not all that much to say about Newt Gingrich, in my opinion. He’s a lying, adulterous, mean-spirited hack with no real ideas. He’s part of the same (wannabe) Good-Ol’-Boy racist fantasy fan club that voted for him in South Carolina, and he’s absolutely not viable in the national election.

    I agree with Lori, as well. SC didn’t necessarily go to him because the people of the state were so offended by Romney’s offshore bank accounts, although that is a pretty repulsive thing for someone running for PotUS. 

    They went for Newt for two reasons: one, he’s not a Mormon. Two, he was out there “putting Juan Williams in his place” (a phrase so venomous and hateful that it makes me want to throw up even typing it) and responding like a petulant child to a valid question about his own terrible, immoral acts in his marriages while he tells others that he knows what’s best for their marriages.

    Newt is a sideshow candidate. He’s a disgrace, a has-been, a wash-up. William Shatner said “has been may be again,” but Newt Gingrich is no Shatner. The GOP is like a WWE event, but with less dignity.

    Really, though, I think that this GOP field crystallizes the narrative for Obama, and really, just shows the reality of our situation so clearly. The choices are a self-made millionaire from a broken home, with a non-traditional past, who overcame adversity to become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, worked in poor neighborhoods, and then went on to become the fucking President.

    Or, a government parasite who was fired from his job by his own colleagues for being an unethical little troll, who thinks that we should fire union janitors and make their kids do the job for less than minimum wage (because minimum wage laws hurt the economy!) who left two of his wives because they were sick.

    Or, the ultra-rich son of a rich father. A guy who has no scruples, no real business experience (being a partner at a predatory financial institution does not count as business experience worth boasting about), who looks ill when someone suggests he release his taxes, and who pays less of a percent of his earnings to taxes than people who actually create the value of our economy.

    The choice is so stark, so clear, and so blindingly obvious that these right-wing yahoos have to resort to playing the race card against Obama, knowing that he can’t (or won’t) come out and defend himself against it, just to win primaries in races full of the same racial resentment that they continue to stoke.

    I said there wasn’t much to say, and I guess I was wrong and right. The short version of this post: Newt Gingrich is a disgraced racist and we should be ashamed of our country for allowing him to even see a path towards nomination.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Shatner is just about the only Republican I’d even consider voting for. Probably still wouldn’t, but it would be cool. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Cule/100001621659800 Michael Cule

    Shatner’s Canadian you know. If you can’t have Arnie you can’t have Bill either.

  • http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com/ Michael Mock

    Shatner? Sure we can. Annex Canada, and we’re good to go!

  • Anonymous

    Shatner? Sure we can. Annex Canada, and we’re good to go!

    Hey, it might be a good opportunity to elect the first Jewish president ….

  • Lori

     
    he’s absolutely not viable in the national election.  

    The person who put this little bit of photshop together apparently agrees with you:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2934772444813&set=a.1981248087300.2112975.1126121420&type=1&theater

    Well, I guess “Obama” could be laughing less because Newt isn’t a viable candidate and more because his SC win leaves the GOP primary in total disarray. Either way it’s rather amusing. 

  • Anonymous

    The GOP is like a WWE event, but with less dignity.

    And with Hornswoggle on the roster, that’s saying something.

  • http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com/ Michael Mock

    “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.”

    Is there a technical term for this precise sort of Chutzpah? I mean, it’s not quite Mansplaining… it’s more like Whitesplaining.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yeah, “whitesplaining” is a pretty accurate term for this, I’d say.

  • Ken

    I don’t know if there’s a word to describe Land’s actions, but they show that oxymoron is perfect for “Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission”.

  • THE Deranged Magpie

    Maybe the GOP will give Obama an early Christmas… sorry, Holiday present and nominate Gingrich as their candidate…

  • Kogo

    You didn’t hear? We atheists won the War on Christmas in 2011. There will be no more holiday presents in future years.

  • http://theitinerantmind.wordpress.com/ A. W.

    I’m a little surprised that no one seems to have noticed this, but, at the risk of a public evisceration, it appears that the actual quote from  Land from which the incendiary phrase is drawn is not Land expressing his own views but relaying the views of minorities he encountered at a 2001 faith-based initiatives summit.  From the article linked above:

    “About 80 percent of the people that came were African-American and
    Hispanic. And I heard them all day say faith-based initiatives [are] an
    opportunity for us to get off the liberal plantation and out of the
    liberal barrio, and [to] have people who actually live in the zip codes
    that have problems make the decisions about what’s best for the people
    in those zip codes.”

  • Guest

    Because “liberation plantation” and “liberal barrio” are not in quotation marks in the original article, it is safe to assume that whoever made those comments probably did not actually say those things in that way, so Land is still a racist.  Blacks and Latinos could have said that they wanted more faith-based initiatives, but Land still turned these comments into racist insults.

  • http://theitinerantmind.wordpress.com/ A. W.

    That is an assumption on your part (and on the part of Astribulus).  It is, in all probability, a correct one, but it is nevertheless a judgment you are making in the absence of direct evidence.  It seems like pretty tenuous grounds on which to assassinate a person’s character and to base the level of vitriol in main post and comments.

  • Anonymous

    How so?  Those are his own words.  He claims to be speaking on behalf of others, but they are still how he chose to represent himself and his position.  This is by no means an isolated incident, but rather the latest in a pattern of hate.  I see no reason that Richard Land should be given the benefit of the doubt, but even if he were directly quoting someone else it still speaks directly to his character that he selected a quote comparing his charitable competitors* to slave owners.

    * Of course, there’s no such competition.  Responsibility is not disjoint nor adversarial, but shared.

  • Anonymous

    You know what? At this point, I don’t care. I am African-American, and we have been bombarded with racist attacks and insults from Republicans and conservatives, especially during these last three years. They want everyone to give them the benefit of the doubt and not judge them as racist even in light of their words and actions–yet feel perfectly free to deny the benefit of the doubt and judge all black people as lazy, dependent, criminal, etc. no matter how many facts or individuals prove otherwise. I’m sick of it. If you or Land feels like that’s character assassination, tough shit.

    Btw, I have lived and worked in communities of color my whole life (including with some faith-based groups), and I have never heard a person of color use terms like “liberal plantation” or “liberal barrio” outside of pandering politicos like Allen West or Herman Cain. On that grounds, too, I think Land is lying.

  • Anonymous

    Somehow, I don’t think that those African-Americans and Hispanics he was paraphrasing used those exact words.  I can believe they see these faith-based initiatives as an opportunity for advancement.  I can even believe they mentioned that they preferred local solutions to federal ones (though it would surprise me if that came up often in unprompted conversation with an aid worker).  What I cannot believe is that phrases “liberal plantation” or “liberal barrio” were used to characterize other, governmental welfare programs.

  • 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

     
     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. 

  • Lori

    Guest and Asribulous make a good point about the Land quote, and that’s not the only reason not to cut Land any slack on this. 

    First, there’s the possibility that Land is over-generalizing from statements made to him. If someone says that they prefer Program A, which happens to be part of a faith-based initiative, to 
    Program B, which is a more traditional government program that’s not the same thing as saying that they prefer faith-based initiatives in general. More importantly, there’s the fact that Land is not talking about African-Americans and Hispanics in general. He’s talking about his (highly subjective and biased) recollection of the views of the self-selecting subset of African-Americans and Hispanics who attended a summit on faith-based initiatives co-chaired by Land and Rick Santorum. Even if they did use the terms “liberation plantation” and “liberal barrio”, that doesn’t mean Gingrich isn’t a racist. GOProud exists and Anne Colter is its honorary chair. That doesn’t mean that the GOP in general and Colter in particular aren’t shitty to QUILTBAG folks. 

  • Anonymous

    I believe that the people at the summit said something about how they want “to] have people who actually live in the zip codes that have problems make the decisions about what’s best for the people in those zip codes.” In other words, a desire for self-determination, which Land may not realize, is a strong thread among progressives as well as conservatives in minority communities.

    The stuff about getting off the liberal plantation/barrio? That’s just Land’s racist interpretation of what he heard.

  • Lori

    What is bringing on this attack of the tone argument? It’s in practically every thread these days and I can’t quite see why. Apparently we’re not allowed to think poorly of any conservative unless they come right out and call people n*****s and s***s or say straight out that women a sluts. What is up with that?

  • Guest

    I think that this is because the blatant racism and sexism are those key words and concepts that set off a liberal hate for Republicans.  It is just like how Republicans (which I use instead of “conservatives” because it would be conflating two similar but different groups) like Gingrich and Santorum use race-baiting and Perry who used the ban on instructor-led prayer in public school to attack multiculturalism and secularism.  It is just those things that can quickly rile up a group because it seems so egregious to that group.

    Are racism and sexism wrong?  Of course.  Still, I do see your problem with an “attack of the tone” argument.  It is this kind of nit-picking that prevents people from understanding the subtle and complex things that move people to vote either Republican or Democrat or to be an evangelical or not.  That’s why Fred doesn’t just go on a tirade whenever he sees the religious right doing batshit things.  He allows us to understand them before he dissects them.  It is not always for sympathy, but for us to remember that there are much more to things than what meets the casual approval or dismissal.  It is when we forget this that we do not see the same things moving us.

  • seniorcit

    I had never watched reality shows ….well, until the Republican debates and campaign events started showing up on the teevee machine.  What fun! And there’s another show tonight!  I’m glad I live in a liberal state which is certain to go for Obama, but in the meantime I can get my jollies by watching the Republican candidates dig and lie their way to the top of the dung heap.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Adelson is a big time Pro israel guy too so he might be backing newt in hopes of a real hawkish foreign policy team.

    Gary Johnson could benefit from a newt candidacy. I don’t htink Newt has the temperment to be president. This has been said many tmanu times but it’s true. You can’t have someone who could fly off the handle or say something weird during important talks. He has the disposition of a pundit not a presdient. It’s too bad though because he is a strong candidate otherwise and has paid his dues and all that.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t htink Newt has the temperment to be president. This has been
    said many tmanu times but it’s true. You can’t have someone who could
    fly off the handle or say something weird during important talks. He has
    the disposition of a pundit not a presdient. It’s too bad though
    because he is a strong candidate otherwise and has paid his dues and all
    that.

    By “paid his dues” you mean being fined and reprimanded over almost 100 ethics violations? Those dues?

  • Moorelba

    Maybe “paid his fines” is more accurate!

    It’s one of those things where sometimes experience just translates directly into baggage.

    Oh, and speaking of Speaker Gingrich:

    Gingrich is threatening to skip debates if the audience isn’t allowed to cheer for him.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Yep, the same dude that turned shutting down the government into a pissing match with Bill Clinton and unwisely linked it to having to get off the back of a AFOne.

    Man has a thin skin when it comes to being opposed it seems.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    A strong candidate…except for his ENTIRE PERSONALITY? I don’t think you are using the correct term. 

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    lol

    It’s such a pity…apart from his personality, worldview, history and policies, he’d be great.

  • Kish

    Clearly, he’s saying that for the Republican Party’s next Presidential candidate, we should import the Newt Gingrich from Bizarro World.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Clearly, he’s saying that for the Republican Party’s next Presidential
    candidate, we should import the Newt Gingrich from Bizarro World.

    Given the sort of up-is-down, gains-are-losses, liberals-are-the-real-racists, cure-corruption-by-deregulation stuff we’ve been hearing from Republicans, I’d say we’ve been importing them from Bizarro World for quite a while now.

  • 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.

  • vsm

    Is Shatner even a Republican?

  • Anonymous

    Holy cow. Gringrich is a clueless, racist little shit, ain’t he?

    According to him, Latinos and Blacks don’t know the key to wealth but Asians sure do. Why not just come right out and throw Jews in there too, since we’re stereotyping?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/newt-gingrich-latinos-blacks-weath-gop-2012_n_1224939.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

    This man is a joke. He needs to be the butt end of jokes for the next century in a half. I’m of the mind that “Blond” jokes can be made more palatable if you replace the “Blond” with Republican/Newt Gingrich/Rick Santorum/Mitt Romney/Richard Land, interchanging as needed.

    In fact, I think I’ll start doing just that.

    TW: HORRIFIC ANIMAL ABUSE

    OT, humanity has a very dark side. I was actually left speechless about this (lies. I posted about it on my blog, but that’s a different matter). Apparently, the democratic coordinator for one of the candidates in Central Arkansas came home one day and found the cat belonging to his children murdered in a most brutal fashion with “LIBERAL” scrawled on the side.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/01/23/409443/arkansas-democratic-campaign-manager-comes-home-to-find-childs-cat-murdered-liberal-written-on-dead-body

    TW: SLAVERY AND RACISM

    And on the topic of racism, Plantations and Burros, apparently the TEA Party of Tennessee doesn’t think slavery is important enough to teach about. After all, it would make the founding fathers look bad, and we can’t have that.

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/01/23/408974/tennessee-tea-party-demands-that-references-to-slavery-be-removed-from-history-textbooks/

  • Anonymous

    Ya know, evangelical Christians really need to learn how to love and encourage their children, rather than abuse and ignore them. I plan to go into their churches and teach them that.

    What? Are you trying to say it’s not better to love and encourage your kids than abuse and ignore them? So what’s wrong with what I said?

    /snark

  • Anonymous

    Several right of center commentators (Andrew Sullivan, Michael Tomansky, Conor Friedersdorf) called it today (and were lamenting this fact): Newt won because he is willing to get nasty, and that’s what the Republican base wants — not someone they think is principled, not even someone they think can govern effectively — just someone they think is nasty enough to smack down Obama.

  • WingedBeast

    “Liberal plantation” and “liberal barrio” are similar to creationists who call themselves Christian Scientists.  They’re using the concepts, in very broad brush, that they think people who are aware of American history with regards to race would think about all the time.  But, they use such broad brushes that they show themselves to not comprehend even the blatancies they’re talking about.

    In large part, they’re simply applying the same treatment towards African Americans that they apply to their own.  After all, they keep saying “socialist” and “European” without any associations of the words because they know that their target audience isn’t so much interested in reality as they are in excuses to be tribal.

    I wonder how long it’s been since anybody in the conservative leadership has had to make the argument for conservatism, rather than make the argument that they are conservative.

  • rizzo

    Meh, he’s just a typical politician.  At least he’s a bit smarter than Santorum and a lot less crazy than Ron Paul. 

  • Lori

     
    At least he’s a bit smarter than Santorum and a lot less crazy than Ron Paul.  

     

    Wow, talk about damning with faint praise. Also, I’m not sure that second thing is even true. I think Newt is just as much of a nutter as Ron Paul, he just carries it better. 

    Gingrich plays the part of the learned professor very well, mostly by being a 60-something, grey-haired, rather portly white man who has raised condescension to an art form. When you look past all that to what he actually says though, the man is a complete whackadoo. His record in government is rather astonishing bad. He’s famous for all the BS about Clinton and for the Contract (on) America, but his problems went well beyond that. For the love of FSM, the last bill he proposed before leaving Congress would have mandated the death penalty for importing pot*. 

    His work as a “historian” is also pretty much an endless parade of nutterdom, starting with his doctoral dissertation in which he claimed that Belgian rule in the Congo wasn’t that bad and carrying on right through to his recent book on the joys of American exceptional ism. 

    *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. 

    It’s unclear to me how a person imprisoned for life on the first offence becomes a repeat offender, but I don’t think the lack of logic makes Newtie seem like less of a nutter. 

  • JohnK

    It’s
    unclear to me how a person imprisoned for life on the first offence
    becomes a repeat offender, but I don’t think the lack of logic makes
    Newtie seem like less of a nutter.

    If I’m a serial burglar and I get arrested for one burglary, the Government can charge me with other burglaries that I’ve committed if they have the evidence to do that. Even though I was only arrested once, I could face multiple charges and be sentenced worse than someone who was arrested once for committing just one crime. If it was worded specifically to refer to repeat occasions rather than to designate repeat offenders (that is, someone who was arrested, convicted, released, and reoffended) then there’s nothing wrong with that aspect of the law.

    (The rest of it is nightmarish but not because of that.)

    Gingrich plays the part of the learned professor very well, mostly by
    being a 60-something, grey-haired, rather portly white man who has
    raised condescension to an art form.

    Pretty much. Gingrich sounds smart because he knows a lot of facts. He can throw out references to the Northwest Ordnance of 1787 and make references to the Galveston Plan — references that most people )who aren’t historians specializing that period) probably won’t have at the top of the head. When he’s in an interview or a debate, he has a free hand to drop references like that. Since they’re relatively obscure, the odds of the other candidates or his interviewer being able to catch onto what he’s actually saying are remote.

    He sounds knowledgeable and wise, comparing his policy to something that was tried in Siam in 1603 or referring to a letter that John Quincy Adams wrote to some Senator. By the time someone actually looks it up and realizes, “Hey, he totally misrepresented that!” or “Hey, that story bears no resemblance to what he was talking about!” days or even weeks have gone by. The general public only remembers that Gingrich had facts and information on his side and the other guys were either nodding along helplessly or spouting out platitudes.

    It also doesn’t help that most of his rivals are completely oblivious and ignorant, so anyone who knows virtually anything at all comes across like the love child of Einstein and Socrates.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy


    Gingrich sounds smart because he knows a lot of facts

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

    I have heard Gingrich make incorrect statements about whether something was in the constitution, I have heard him misplace an event by years and I have heard him misattribute quotes.

    Gingrinch does the “authoritative white guy” voice so well that people just assume he knows whereof he speaks.

    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.) If he was not able to do so then he would not passed the minimal qualifications for a PhD at any of the graduate schools I attended.

  • 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.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ 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.)

  • 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. 

  • P J Evans

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

  • 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.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ 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.” 

  • 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?

  • 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? 

  • Emcee, cubed

    Rachel Maddow had a segment last night about how Gingrich supporters were chanting “VP!” when Newt mentioned Santorum’s name. Now, most of me thinks that a Gingrich/Santorum ticket would be a dream come true for the Obama campaign. When they first mentioned it, my husband and I laughed maniacally, going “Ohpleaseohpleaseohplease!”

    But there’s this little tiny part of me that is just barely old enough to remember Democrats cackling with glee over the Reagan nomination on the idea that he was completely unelectable. That part of me is quaking with abject terror.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ mmy

    But there’s this little tiny part of me that is just barely old enough to remember Democrats cackling with glee over the Reagan nomination on the idea that he was completely unelectable. That part of me is quaking with abject terror.

    THIS

    AND……consider what is at stake here. Should people be gleeful that the Democrats will face such a ticket — when the cost of losing to such a ticket with be the rights of millions of Americans? Or is this another case where certain Americans (fill in the blank) are being told to put the importance of their own causes on hold and wait patiently and just believe that someday, somehow, their issues will reach the front of the line.

    Because Gingrich and Santorum have made it clear that they not only don’t want to advance the rights of African-Americans, women, POC, and people who are QUILTBAGS — they want to roll back any rights that have been won over the last half a century.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My first reaction to seeing the names “Gingrich/Santorum” was this face:

    D-X

    Never misunderestimate the willingness of Americans to vote for the guy who’ll promise to hurt people harder, faster and worse as long as it’s Not Them. (i.e. do it to illegal immigrants, people of color, and anyone in a foreign country that might harbor Them Terists.)

  • Anonymous

    But there’s this little tiny part of me that is just barely old enough
    to remember Democrats cackling with glee over the Reagan nomination on
    the idea that he was completely unelectable. That part of me is quaking
    with abject terror.

    That’s true, and I worry about this, because if I were in a debate with Newt Gingrich, I’d be reduced to flabbergasted blustering and muttering something about him being “the smart one.”

    That said, Jimmy Carter had this sort of hapless air about him, which is something that Barack Obama certainly does not project.  I think that in fact, internet liberals have misjudged Obama badly, as seeing his silence and relative aloofness as professorial and weak.  The more that I watch him, I think that’s wrong.  Barack Obama is a nerves-of-steel badass, and I don’t think it comes across in the more initimate media settings that the presidency tends to force on you.  Scenes from the Obama / Gingrich debate that play out in my dreams:

    Gingrich:  You’ve put more people on food stamps than any president in history!
    Obama: I prefer to think of it as “I kept more Americans from starving” than any president in history.

    Gingrich: Blah, blah, black people don’t work as hard.
    Obama: You want to come over here and say that to my face?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ 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]

    :)

  • http://mmycomments.blogspot.com/ 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    [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]

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

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

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *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. :|