Or maybe he’s just unbearable.
The kind (if naive) Ezra Klein believes the pushback about Newt’s first divorce. That pushback, by the way, comes via Newt’s daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman, who works with her father in (at?) Newt, Inc., as Gingrich’s various endeavors are called.
Except for the fact that the story, first reported in 1984 in Mother Jones, is substantially true, according to what the First Mrs. Newt told the MoJo reporter. The First Mrs. Newt is Jackie Gingrich Cushman’s mother. Oooopsies.
Now, the weekend’s Newt News is chock-full of Newt Nuggets. Nugget #1 is Newt’s statement on “Meet the Press” characterizing Paul Ryan’s budget as “right-wing social engineering,” and wrong for the country, even though several weeks ago he happily admitted to Time that were he still in Congress, he’d have voted for the…Ryan budget. O-kay.
In that same interview — David Gregory got a Trifecta O’Fun yesterday, fer shure — Newt uttered Newt nugget #2, when he reiterated his support for the Peachy-Keen and Entirely Constitutional Individual Mandate found in Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health insurance reforms and the Affordable Care Act.
Now, today, Newt asks us all to ignore those comments about the Evil Incarnate Individual Mandate; he was just messin’ with our heads! (To which Rachel Weiner, writing over at The Fix, asks readers to rate how badly Newt hurt himself. Options included indicate that The Fix is still, as a creature of the establishmentarian Washington Post, taking Gingrich seriously as a GOP leader. The Bitch can tell this because her preferred option, “Are You Effing Kidding Me??? This is A Mortal Wound,” is not included in the roundup, which you can read here.)
Newt Nugget #3 occurred when Gingrich took a moment to comment on his recent depiction of President Obama as a “food stamp president.” Just so you know, here’s the full quote, courtesy of Ta-Nehesi Coates at the Atlantic and the Washington Post:
“President Obama is the most successful food stamp president in American history, Gingrich said. ”I want to be the most successful paycheck president.”
(Gee, the Bitch feels so much better now. But to resume.)
Getting back to the “Meet” interview and Nugget #3, Gregory referenced the speech, calling it “coded racially tinged language,” and asked Newt to explain what he meant. Newt came over all coy confusion:
That’s, that’s bizarre. That — this kind of automatic reference to racism, this is the president of the United States. The president of the United States has to be held accountable. Now, the idea that — and what I said is factually true. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have — I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.
Probably true, since that’s the point of using coded language. However, in the same “food stamp” speech (given incidentally in the enlightened city of Macon, Georgia), Newt endorsed using “history tests” as a precursor to bestowing voting rights. Unfortunately, those “tests” sound an awful lot like the literacy tests outlawed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. You can read about literacy tests here; Newt’s endorsement is below.
You know, folks often talk about immigration. I always say that to become an American citizen, immigrants ought to have to learn American history. But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as a native-born American, you should have to learn American history. You realize how many of our high school graduates because of the decay of the educational system, couldn’t pass a citizenship test. [Emphasis added.]
Greg Sargent reminds us (as if we could forget) that this kind of race-baiting will be typical of GOP attacks on the president throughout the rest of the cycle:
It’s not really all that surprising that conservatives would settle on a strategy of stoking white racial resentment, There’s a black president in the White House, and a growing perception among whites that anti-white bias is actually a bigger social problem than anti-black racial bias.
As usual, the GOP consternation isn’t over the endorsement of literacy tests, it’s over the pre-endorsement of the individual mandate. Jonathan Bernstein has no sympathy whatsoever.
Newt Gingrich has a long record of saying outrageous things, worded in every case as if the demise of American civilization was at stake if we didn’t immediately drop everything and do whatever Newt thought was necessary today, and never mind it had nothing to do with whatever he was all worked up about last time. But instead of relegating him to wherever Democrats hid Jim Wright after his aborted Speakership, Republicans set Newt up in a highly visible Washington perch, pretended that his nonsense constituted Serious Ideas and made him an Intellectual, and enjoyed the benefits of his eagerness to use extremist language against the Democrats.
They propped him up. Now — for a while, at least — they’re going to have to live with him.
Well said, Mr. Bernstein, well said.