DISGRACED FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER PRETENDS TO HAVE CREDIBILITY…. Oh good, Newt is still talking. (thanks to reader D.F. for the tip)

Newt Gingrich will deliver a major national security address at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Thursday in which he will reprimand the Obama administration’s “willful blindness” to the threat of extremist Islam.

The speech — a direct challenge to the president’s foreign policy judgment at a venue that’s become an important stopover for Republican luminaries — is the latest sign that Gingrich is serious about a potential White House bid in 2012. […]

Never one to shy away from his somewhat professorial reputation, Gingrich plans to draw on “the lessons of Camus and Orwell” to explain “the dangers of a wartime government that uses language and misleading labels to obscure reality.”

Of course, Gingrich, a pseudo-intellectual crackpot, only has a “somewhat professorial reputation” among those who neglect to listen to what he has to say. This is, after all, the same Gingrich who insisted on national television recently that it was acceptable to Mirandize shoe-bomber Richard Reid because he was “an American citizen.” (In our reality, Reid is a British citizen of Jamaican descent.)

In light of the speech, Greg Sargent noted, “Newt Gingrich is set to duke it out with Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney for the title of leading GOP voice on national security.”

I think that’s right, but I also think it’s an indictment of sorts. As potential GOP presidential candidates eye 2012, the leading Republican voices on national security are Gingrich, Palin, and Romney? Isn’t that rather humiliating for a party that used to lead on these issues?

Gingrich has exactly zero experience on foreign policy, military affairs, and national security. Romney recently tried to pretend to understand these issues, and was utterly humiliated. Palin has said publicly she thinks she understands foreign policy because Vladimir Putin flew over her house.

The Republican Party likes to maintain the pretense that these issues “belong” to them — all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding — but the fact that their most noteworthy national luminaries on the subject are utterly clueless, and bring all the sophistication of a child to the debate, is pretty striking.

This isn’t to say the entire Republican Party is devoid of credible voices on national security and foreign policy; that would be an overstatement. Current and former officials like Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Brent Scowcroft, George Schultz, Colin Powell, former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Reagan Chief of Staff Howard Baker, former Sen. John Danforth (R-Mo.) all approach these issues with at least some seriousness and stature.

Of course, since this same group also happens to agree with President Obama on national security and foreign policy, that’s probably not much help when it comes to GOP politics.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.