Newt’s global reach

NEWT’S GLOBAL REACH…. It’s bad enough when disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says nutty things in the U.S. media; it’s more embarrassing when he’s speaking to an international audience. Faiz Shakir has the latest head-shaking Newt moment:

In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines program, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich outlined his U.S. policy towards Iran. Gingrich said the U.S. should “sabotage” Iran’s oil and gas infrastructure as part of an effort to topple the Iranian government.

Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis told Gingrich, “In the past, you’ve called for the bombing of Iran’s oil refineries.” Gingrich clarified, “I called for sabotage, not bombing…. Fundamental difference.” Gingrich explained that the U.S. should use “covert operations” against Iran’s refineries because they “have only one refinery that produces gasoline in the entire country.”

The refinery line happens to be wrong, but never mind that now. Gingrich went on to say that U.S.-backed sabotage would have “strategic meaning” and help lead to a “responsible Iranian government.” Al Jazeera’s Avi Lewis seemed amused when he noted that Gingrich was suggesting a “responsible Iranian government” would be the natural outcome of “a gas crisis with black-ops sabotage.”

And while that is amusing, Gingrich’s seriousness notwithstanding, I just have to wonder whether Al Jazeera’s audience realizes that Gingrich is not part of the American mainstream, has no influence in the American government, and his “sabotage” strategy will not be implemented.

Which is to say, Americans are accustomed to Gingrich being a pseudo-intellectual nut. What about international audiences?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.