Newt Gingrich
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Following news of the terrorist attack in Nice last night, Newt Gingrich went on Sean Hannity’s show and grabbed all the headlines for suggesting a response that even Donald Trump hasn’t been willing to propose.

“Western civilization is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported,” Gingrich told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

“Sharia is incompatible with western civilization. Modern Muslims who have given up Sharia, glad to have them as citizens. Perfectly happy to have them next door,” he added.

Gingrich also said that the attack in Nice is the “fault of Western elites who lack the guts to do what is right, to do what is necessary,” and suggested that mosques in America need to be monitored.

Coming from a party that purports to have complete allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, in those few sentences Gingrich managed to name actions that shatter almost everything most Americans hold dear in terms of this country and our values: religious tests, the rights of citizenship and unlawful surveillance – to name just a few. Notice that he said all of that before we even know who committed this atrocity and before any group has claimed responsibility.

But Gingrich didn’t stop there. He’s apparently ready to go after non-Muslims as well.

Gingrich also called for “anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS or Al Qaeda or any other terrorist groups” to be jailed on felony charges. Any organization that hosted such a website would also be subject to such charges, he said.

If the U.S. intelligence community is unable to diminish ISIS’ power by taking out the websites the group uses to spread its propaganda, Gingrich proposed using aggressive force.

“We should destroy them with kinetic power, using various weapons starting with predators and frankly just killing them,” he said.

I’ve never thought that Donald Trump is the brightest bulb. My impression of him is that he doesn’t think….he reacts. That means that he says a lot of stupid stuff and then has to backtrack. But Newt Gingrich – for all of his faults – is smart. He is not being reactive when he throws out this kind of thing. He’s being strategic.

In psychological terms, while Trump exhibits signs of being a classic narcissist, Gingrich has often appeared to be a sociopath. Of the two, the latter is actually much more dangerous over the long term.

I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what Gingrich is attempting to accomplish with these incredibly incendiary remarks. But I do notice that they come on the heels of all the rumors yesterday that Trump had chosen Gov. Mike Pence to be his vice president. As the day went on, the messages from the candidate’s campaign became increasingly confused and now we know that an announcement has been delayed with a statement from Trump saying, “he had yet to make a ‘final, final decision’ between Pence and two other candidates, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.”

What we could be witnessing right now is a man who is willing to completely throw our Constitution under the bus in order to grab headlines and make a play to get the Republican nomination as vice president. You want to know how far down the rabbit hole the Republican Party has gone? There you have it.

Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.