Posts Tagged ‘newt gingrich’

Newt Gingrich “knows better”

September 23, 2010

Mr. Gingrich seems to be the only man in politics who can say crazy things repeatedly without being written off as crazy, and ignored. The former Speaker of the House somehow earned a carte blanche in outrageous statements.

No matter what Newt Gingrich says, the following phrase is included in the ensuing discussion (Gingrich usually starts something):

“He knows better.”

President Clinton on Meet the Press (September 19):

That’s just what he does when he’s running. He’s out there playing politics, and it’s his shtick. He knows better. He’s a smart man.

A smart man playing politics. Gingrich certainly knows what to say (plus when and how) to push the right buttons — facts and common sense be damned. Gingrich’s skill is that he knows how to awaken dark and paranoid sentiments within certain segments of the electorate.

And that seems to be okay for politicians, since it’s all a part of the “game”.

While some are able to see the political calculations and motives driving Gingrich’s actions (me! coverage! GOP surge! – in that order), others aren’t. And those who take Gingrich at his word are strengthening his hand. The media should know when it’s being played, and leave Gingrich alone.

I finally get it now, Obama’s anti-colonial heritage is driving his support of the victory mosque. Thanks for clearing that up for me Mr. Gingrich.

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Evoking ghosts from the past: Buchanan 1992 v. Gingrich 2010

May 21, 2010

It seems as if Newt Gingrich is borrowing a page from Pat Buchanan’s speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention.

In his upcoming book, To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine, Gingrich writes;

The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.

In his 1992 convention speech, Buchanan stated the following:

There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.

Gingrich recently explained his views in an e-mail to Politico:

I have asserted that the secular socialist machine is a mortal threat to the future of America as we have known it just as totalitarian regimes were mortal threats to the survival of America in the past. … In our generation the two mortal threats are radical Islam and secular socialism.

Whereas Buchanan spoke of a “struggle for the soul of America” in which “Clinton & Clinton” were the evil doers, Gingrich’s foes are,  unoriginally, Obama, Reid and Pelosi.

Furthermore, whereas Buchanan’s key frame  was “cultural war”, Gingrich’s newest catch-phrase is “secular-socialism.”

The common denominator is the effort to use religion as a wedge issue.  Gingrich thus strives to create a political climate in which Democrats are framed as secular-minded socialists, while Republicans  are cast as valiantly defending America’s traditional family values. In other words, Gingrich isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel here.

Nonetheless, Gingrich clearly masters scare tactics 101: Evoke ghosts from the past by painting a scary picture of the future. Essentially, a volatile cocktail of Reductio ad Hitlerum and Reductio ad Stalinum.

In the long haul, Gingrich’s paranoid style is not bringing any new solutions to Washington. Instead, he is stoking fear by borrowing a page from Buchanan. Obviously, Buchanan was by no means an originator, and both  his and Gingrich’s tactics are part of the paranoid style in American politics so eloquently described by Richard Hofstadter.

Sunday talk show highlights, April 11, 2010

April 12, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press and This Week. In short: The White House’s defend-President-Obama’s-Nuclear-posture-review-effort was headed by Secretaries Clinton and Gates, and the roundtables’ focused on the upcoming replacement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory played a videotape of President Obama talking about the desired qualities of his future Supreme Court nominee:

It will … be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.

My first reaction was that Obama was talking about a nominee who would oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens’ United case since President Obama framed his opposition to that ruling in strikingly similar terms.

Now, who will Obama pick?

The shortlist includes about ten names, including the following: Judge Diane Wood (7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals), Elena Kagan (the solicitor general of the United States), Judge Merrick Garland (judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in the D.C. Circuit) and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

My view? Take it away Tony Blankley (the conservative voice on KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center”): “I’m not sufficiently familiar to really discuss that intelligently.”

On the issue of Hamid Karzai’s latest statements, Gregory posed the following question to syndicated Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker:

Kathleen, you write in a column this morning about this complicated relationship with allies like Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. And, again, you saw that exchange. What was noteworthy is a shift in the administration. Here you had the secretary of Defense and the secretary of State saying, “We’re not going to react to some of these things. We’re going to be more sympathetic toward Hamid Karzai. He’s the guy that we have to deal with.” That was, that was a significant change.

Parker answered:

Yeah, that was a shift as of right this minute, right? We’ve been pretty hard on him, and he is the guy that was elected and he is our man. We, we created Karzai. And he’s been under siege from everyone. I mean, Obama pretty much came out swinging during his campaign, and he’s had, you know, every European parliamentarian coming after him. Everybody is on Karzai’s back. And, and naturally, he’s going to react. This is the testosterone axis of the world, and you don’t insult a leader in public and then expect him to just sit back and take it.

David Gregory then turned the roundtable’s focus to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference held in New Orleans last week:

MR. GREGORY: Well, let me go a little bit larger here and talk about presidential leadership and put it in the political context, because there is an opposition party, the Republicans, and they’re trying to figure out how to mount that opposition, as we are in an election year. And there was a gathering of Republicans that got a lot of attention, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. And you heard two prominent Republican voices, Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, talking about how, again, Republicans position themselves to counter President Obama (videotape):

MR. NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA): What the left wants to do is say we’re the party of “no.” …  And so here’s what I want to ask you to encourage every candidate you know, every incumbent you know, every staff person you know, every consultant you know, I think we should decide that we’re going to be the party of “yes.”

MRS. SARAH PALIN: There is no shame in being the party of no if they’re proposing, the other side, proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution. What’s wrong with being the party of no.  …  Or better said by the good governor of this state, he said, “The party of `no’? Nah, we’re the party of `Hell, no!'”

Gregory then asked The New York Times’ David Brooks to assess the GOP right now in terms “of mounting this challenge, figuring out where it’s going to be in 2010 and 2012”:

MR. BROOKS: You’re turning to the party of “maybe” over here. So this is a bad move for you. Listen, Palin is great TV. She’s really attractive. Gingrich is sort of great TV. He’s got a billion ideas, 600 of which are really good. But the fact is the, the Republican Party is not Palin and it’s not Gingrich. The Republican Party is Rob Portman, who’s running for senator in Ohio. It’s Mark Kirk, who’s running for, for senator in Illinois. It’s Governor Christie in New Jersey. These are the people who are actually governing. And I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show. But these are the people that are actually running, and they’ve actually got it figured out.They’re against a lot of what Obama’s doing, but they’re the party of “yes.” They’ve got a whole series of policies.  Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has–can wonk your ear off. And so that’s the real party. Palin, the tea parties–listen, the tea party movement is a movement without a structure, without an organization. No, no party, no movement like that lasts.

On This Week, the Roundtable focused on Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement, and George Will’s opening remarks emphasized the fact that the confirmations of Supreme Court nominees were much smoother and went much faster back in the good old days. Furthermore, and as host Jake Tapper pointed out, the confirmation of Justice Stevens was the last one that wasn’t televised.

Perhaps it was easier to be bipartisan when the voters weren’t watching?

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Tip of the hat to David Brooks for his description of Sarah Palin:

I happen to feel we pay a little too much attention to people like Palin, who’s sort of a sub reality figure on some TV show.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

Postscript: Cokie Roberts mentioned the cartoon we picked as “Political Cartoon of the Week, April 4-10” when she described the upcoming debate on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.

The Politics of a Book Release: 2012 Edition

March 9, 2010

(updated May 1, 2010)

The fact that most American presidential hopefuls write a book before they announce their candidacy seems to be a truism of American politics. Thus, most Republicans with their aims on the 2012 Republican presidential nomination will release a book upon announcing their candidacy.

It’s not exactly rocket science. Just take a look at this list, containing the names of former presidential candidates who released books upon running for the presidency:

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Bill Richardson, Dennis Kucinich, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, George W. Bush, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

And that’s just as far back as I’ve checked. Feel free to list older examples in the comment section below.

By releasing a book upon running for the presidency, the candidate can introduce his life story, the travails of his past, and his vision of America’s future. Furthermore, having a book with your face on the cover increases your name recognition, and it’s a nice way for potential voters to get to know you and your ideas.

Former Massachusetts Governor, and failed 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney just released his book, entitled No Apology. The Case for American Greatness.

The Economist (February 27th-March 5th, 2010: pg. 44) describes it as “a 323-page paean to American greatness and a thinly disguised presidential manifesto ending with a 64-point ‘Agenda for a Free and Strong America’.”

Along with Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Lamar Alexander and Jim DeMint are all potential (though more or less likely) 2012 Republican presidential candidates that have written or authored books, and Tim Pawlenty will be publishing a memoir in 2011.

According to the apparent release-a-book-before-you-run-for-president-logic, the following need to write a book pretty soon if they’re going to be among the top contenders in the 2012 Republican primaries (add other names below if you can’t find them here):

Indiana Representative Mike Pence, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, South Dakota Senator John Thune, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Texas Governor Rick Perry (not a likely contender if he loses his re-election campaign for Governor of Texas).

Former actor, Tennessee Senator and failed 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson is set to release a book in May entitled Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances. The title doesn’t really sound like a political manifesto, but who knows, maybe Fred Thompson, the self-proclaimed “consistent conservative” is gearing up for another run for the presidency?

On an end note, take a look at what could’ve been the 1990s first-couple:

POST SCRIPT: According to several reports, newly elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown has signed a book deal with Harper Collins for a book to be released next year. I didn’t mention him among the potential contenders for the 2012 nomination, but who knows? Barack Obama ran as a freshman Senator in 2008. BUT, while Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 – four years prior to his historic win on November 4, 2008 – Brown was elected to the Senate this January – just two years prior to the 2012 Iowa caucuses…


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