GINGRICH, MEET GODWIN…. It was the latest in a series of reminders that this is nothing — literally, nothing — that a far-right media personality can say to be driven from polite American society.
Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), inexplicably one of the nation’s most ubiquitous Sunday-show guests, sat down with Chris Wallace yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.” The host confronted Gingrich with one of his recent quotes: “The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.”
Wallace said, “Mr. Speaker, respectfully, isn’t that wildly over the top?” “No,” Gingrich replied, insisting that he believes President Obama intends to “decide who earns how much.”
The host pushed back, but Gingrich was entirely serious. As the former Speaker sees it, President Obama believes there’s such a thing as excessive wealth, which means the president intends to be “the arbiter of your dreams,” which means the president will try to “decide who earns how much,” which means the president is some kind of communist. Or something.
Gingrich added that the Obama administration therefore poses a threat comparable to the Nazis and Soviets, not on a “moral” plane, but as “a very serious threat to our way of life.”
Now, I think it’s fair to say most reasonable people would charitably describe this as idiocy. Comparing America’s leadership to Nazis and Soviets is as offensive as it is ridiculous. This isn’t exactly a new observation, but Newt Gingrich, the disgraced pseudo-intellectual, is quite obviously stark raving mad.
But here’s the kicker: it won’t make a bit of difference. Given the way the political establishment is “wired” for Republicans, there simply aren’t any consequences for this kind of abject stupidity.
Gingrich was driven from office by members of his own party more than a decade ago, under a cloud of ethical lapses, policy failures, and personal scandal. He hasn’t held office since, but the media can’t stop turning to him — he was the single most frequent guest on “Meet the Press” in 2009 — giving him a national platform to spew nonsense, including yesterday, when he defended previous remarks comparing Americans to Nazis.
The media-driven discourse of 21st-century America often leaves much to be desired.