Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ciao Newt (maybe)

It's fair to say, I think, that Newt Gingrich's latest outburst is absolutely the craziest thing to come out of Republican primary season. Crazier than Perry forgetting which pieces of government he wants to abolish, crazier than Santorum's intense focus on starting a war with Iran, crazier than Herman Cain not remembering whether we supported the Libyan regime or the Libyan rebels. Crazier, even, than Newt's own demented fantasy of building a lunar colony. I'll let Steve Benen sum it up:
Just so we’re clear, this week, a leading presidential candidate articulated his belief that, if elected, he might (1) eliminate courts he doesn’t like; (2) ignore court rulings he doesn’t like; and (3) take judges into custody if he disapproves of their legal analyses.

I hope it’s unnecessary to note that Gingrich’s vision is stark raving mad.
In a lot of ways, the GOP race has been all about exploring the furthest reaches of what the Republican Party will accept from its candidates. And thus far, while candidates have suffered deficiencies of what we shall gently call "competence" and "morals," nobody has really run up against a rightward ideological bound. So it's a bit of relief to discover that a lot of Republican bigwigs and commentators find Gingrich's authoritarian instincts just a bit disturbing. I suppose we can all sleep easier knowing that "threatening to dissolve the court system in order to protect conservative social mores" is a bridge too far for the thought leaders of the American right.

Then again. Was Gingrich ever the candidate of the elite? Not really. His candidacy -- like that of Cain, Perry, and Bachmann before him -- was always driven by the Tea Party grassroots, the mass of GOP voters who hate Obama, hate Washington, hate liberals, but most of all, hate Mitt Romney. These people were never following the "thought leaders" in the first place.

So until they abandon Gingrich, I maybe wouldn't exhale just yet. Oh, they probably will sooner or later -- I mean, Santorum hasn't even gotten his chance at the front of the pack yet -- but do they care that some pointy-headed so-called conservative writer in DC thinks that Newt is flirting with fascism? Not likely.

1 comment: