Newt Gingrich Commits the Heinous Crime of Being Mundanely Rational

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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22 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Newt probably is hoping for a rope-a-dope. This gets nothing but play on the news, right?

    Then someone asks Obama about it.

    Obama then has two choices:

    1. “My position is not substantially different from Newt’s!”
    2. “My position is substantially different from Newt’s!”

    He probably figures that either answer would result in a hit to Obama’s numbers while the above video won’t cost him any votes he would have gotten otherwise.


    That’s my best guess.Report

  2. Burt Likko says:

    Oh, Elias, you silly blogger. Why should you respond to what Gingrich actually said, when it would be so much more fun to respond to what other people thought they heard him say?Report

  3. BSK says:

    Here is my issue:

    Newt is saying, “If you care so much about gay marriage that you can’t support a candidate opposed to it, don’t support me.”  Fine.  That is all fair and good.  However, he is acting as if it is an issue he cares nothing about.  As if he is simply uninvolved in the gay marriage issue.  Quite the contrary.  How about this, Newt:  “If you care so little about gay marriage, why not support it to curry more support amongst gays, positioning you to better enact all the things you really DO care about.”  The inherent assumption that Newt does not care about gay marriage is wrong, since he clearly does care very much about it, only on the other side of the fence of the position the questioner seems to be taking.Report

    • BSK in reply to BSK says:

      I should note that I have no issue with Newt or any other politician taking a principled stand and saying, “No, this is how I feel about ISSUE X and if you can’t vote for a candidate with that position, vote for the other guy.”  It is actually a bit refreshing.  And, thinking more about it, I suppose that it is possible Newt really doesn’t care about gay marriage one way or the other and has taken the position he has because he feels he’ll curry more favor with opponents than proponents, thus positioning himself to better pursue the things he DOES care about.  My hunch is that is not the case, which is why I was bothered by the way in which Newt made his stand, though the taking of a stand is a nice thing to see, even if I disagree with it.Report

  4. b-psycho says:

    You make a good point actually.  The usual aggressive filtering is yet another factor in making “representative government” a joke.

    If we are to have politicians, they should ideally have no filters whatsoever, so the real people requesting all that power are laid bare for all.  Truth serum injections for them before all public appearances and debates, anyone?Report

  5. North says:

    I don’t mind Newt coming out and saying it for the most part. Makes it simpler for most gays though really sticks a fork in the Log Cabin types.Report

  6. trizzlor says:

    You’re half right. Newt doesn’t plan to change his view and he should be candid about that. But he should want to change the views of those people on the other side, and from that perspective he’s saying that he’s not willing to engage with those people at all – they can go elsewhere. If I want a candidate who is an advocate for our cause, this is the worst way to do it. If I want a candidate who just makes me feel righteous about our shared views then Newt’s nailed it.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to trizzlor says:

      And this view generalizes to pretty much all the GOP sanctioned policy views: conservatives like’em, liberals don’t, and no further argument to persuade or ponder is ever offered. Of course, it’s a bit tricky when you realize that the GOP-sanctioned views are increasingly defined by simply being the opposite of what liberals want or advocate. They’re completely reactionary at this point, and the in-group keeps getting smaller.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Stillwater says:

        If that’s how the GOP defines itself, then yes, it’s eventually going to ideologically purify itself out of existence, kind of a reverse homeopathy of politics. But if that’s what the party faithful insist on happening, then the rest of us cast-off soon-to-be-former Republicans can go and form our own party, talk the Libertarians down from the belfry, or the Democrats can offer a sufficiently broad policy platform to attract us, and the Republicans can go the way of the Whigs.Report

      • “Conservatism” is reactionary: it’s best defined as an opposition to radicalism.Report

        • Kim in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          … which nicely explains why your definition of conservatism is worthless. True conservatives defend the ancien regime, as they always have. Might makes right, and wealth makes truth. Those who are rich are that way because they deserve to be, and who are we to question their means — or their disturbing tendencies…Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to Kim says:

            Kim, you would not fare well on Opposite Day.Report

            • BSK in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


              Does everything fall into either the conservatism bucket or the radicalism bucket?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BSK says:

                Um, no, BSK.  “Classical liberalism” was “ordered liberty,” although that’s a bit oxymoronic.  And Edmund Burke, the “first conservative” was also quite liberal, saying a society without means of change was without the means of survival.

                If you read me charitably above, I’m conceding the point that “conservatism” isn’t good at the “progress” thing.  OTOH, the French Revolution and Communism were advertised as “progress,” so there’s that.Report

              • BSK in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I was referring to where we are today. Do you think that, in our current system we have conservatives and radicals and no one else?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to BSK says:

                BSK, terms are only useful if both parties agree on their meaning.  I have no reasonable expectation of getting any further with this based on our history lately [altho it was not always so in the past].

                I was thinking of you lately, of our discussion awhile back about affirmative action [in which you personally are professionally invested, iirc], and my argument that “diversity” admissions may benefit your white students in exposing them to the life of experiences, but not the “diverse” people themselves.


                “Liberals would never stoop to stereotyping, but they say minorities necessarily make distinctive — stereotypical? — contributions to viewpoint diversity, conferring benefits on campus culture forever….

                But what if many of the minorities used in this process are injured by it? Abundant research says they are, as two amicus curiae briefs demonstrate in urging the court to take the Texas case.”

                [George Will, cited by Ilya Somin.]

                Yah, that’s what I was getting at, reinforced by my own professional experience as a headhunter.


                As for “radical,” BSK, I don’t believe you’ll allow any sense of the term as I would use it in the current political constellation, and anyway, I’ve found that once we move from arm’s length political theory to the fangs-on-throat of partisan politics, all sense goes out the window.

                But I will say this, simply in regard to and respect for “process”: Obamacare is a big step, and therefore was “radical” simply in the way it was passed—with a bare majority in Congress, with no GOP support and twisting the arms [Stupak, et al.] of the last few Dems.

                I’d have said the same of the Authorization for Use of Military Force against iraq [2002?] if it had passed Congress similarly, as it was certainly a big step too.

                But in the latter case, it passed with the full approval of one party and half the other, as WillT speadsheeted it for us recently.

                Had Obamacare passed with a similar consensus, I would not call it “radical,” but “reform,” and perfectly admirable in the Burkean “conservative” sense.


              • BSK in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Really hard to respond with so many non-sequitors. What I am trying to get at is whether there exist alternatives to conservativeor radical, which your last point seems to indicate there are. I agree that definitions will be hard to agree on, but I was really trying to get at whetheryou view us to exist in a binary world or something more akin to a spectrum. Making this determination is an important first step if one ever does intend to agree on definitions. n this case I would agree with what I believe to be your ultimate belief: that there exist more than two classifications but that these classifications are somewhat relative in nature (as perhaps they should be, though I think this returns us to muddled definitions). It is aninteresting conversations since I hear many pundits on the right (disclaimer: I realize that no pundit represents any ideology greater than their own) arguing about who is truly a “conservative” candidate, only to then denounce or support someone based on a definition of conservatism that is completely alien to my 28-year-old ears. It seems that “conservative” has become a buzz word in a way it hasn’t been before, at least not as long as I’ve been following politics. But no one takes even a moment to actually define it outside of what theirownpersonalpreferences are.Report

        • trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          TVD, I think what Stillwater is saying is that the GOP definition of radicalism is becoming more and more anything the Democrats support. See the New START treaty or Payroll Tax-Cut as examples. If they don’t have a coherent view of what they’re against, then they don’t stand for anything either.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

            Mr. Trizz, I was actually yielding Mr. Stillwater a partial point, that the criticism that “conservatism” isn’t actually a philosophy but a reaction holds some accuracy. That which conservatives defend was at some point radical.  At this point, it’s saving the New Deal, not abolishing it.

            As for the partisan grenade toss, except for Mr. Koz’ quixotic attempts to get somebody—anybody!—to vote GOP, what few gentlepersons of the right remain around here have abandoned that to you and yours; outnumbered and out-ruded.

            The only survival strategy is to note the most egregious slanders and call for clarity now and then, hoping to achieve some common ground with those still open to principled discussion.

            Oh, yeah, and Obama does stink on ice.  But to say so from the right instead of his left is hardly worth noting, except for the record.Report

            • trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              TVD, I appreciate you keeping the debate genuine. But I feel that conceding that the GOP is against “radical” change doesn’t mean much if we don’t have an objective definition of radicalism, which was sort of the original point. I could concede that Obama works to help the weak & subjugated so much that he sometimes hurts his own chances of re-election; and it would be true too (!) based on my definition of “works to help”.

              Your definition (from above) seems to hinge on the vote disparity, which is a fine and principled position. But the GOP has just spent the past two years perpetuating tax policy that passed by similar margins as Obamacare (one and two) with the threat of shutting government down entirely. Such actions would suggest that they have little concern for your definition of radicalism unless it tips in one political direction. Which is where we started: partisanship is not conservation.Report

  7. Tom Van Dyke says:

    Elias gets it right, but the real story is the distortions by CBS News, Charles Johnson [linked in the OP], & some in the leftosphere.

    Then again, such distortions are about as newsworthy as dog-bites-man, nothing unusual here.  Move along, folks.Report