Abandoning the pretense of seriousness

ABANDONING THE PRETENSE OF SERIOUSNESS…. It’s bound to be tricky for conservatives to criticize President Obama for a policy in Libya they agree with. Mitt Romney tried it yesterday, and the effort didn’t go well.

But to date, I don’t think anyone has been quite as ridiculous as disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Here’s what he told NBC’s “Today” show this morning about the military offensive in Libya:

“I would not have intervened. I think there were a lot of other ways to affect Qaddafi. I think there are a lot of other allies in the region we could have worked with. I would not have used American and European forces.”

This received no pushback whatsoever from host Matt Lauer, who may not have realized that Gingrich has been saying the exact opposite for weeks. As George Zornick noted, the former Speaker was asked just two weeks ago what he’d do about Libya, and he replied, “Exercise a no-fly zone this evening…. All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening.”

I don’t doubt Gingrich will remain a media darling, invited onto national television on a daily basis to present arguments unchallenged, but that doesn’t change the fact that no one should take this pseudo-intellectual clown seriously.

Update: A closer look at both transcripts makes it irrefutably clear: this is a dramatic “flip-flop,” not only on intervention, but also on the justifications for intervention. Gingrich isn’t even trying to be a little consistent.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

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.