I'm having real difficulty believing what I just read. Maybe I need to think some more about the logic of inconsistency, and how politicians can strategically place themselves all across the policy spectrum to appeal to the many all at once. At a meeting of young Republicans, Newt Gingrich, of all people, seems to have addressed the followers in what anyone would objectively describe as liberal (and reality-based) terms. As Julia Dahl reports at Salon,
He began benignly enough, using an anecdote about going to Disney World with his grandchildren to explain an epiphany he'd had about the value of not "thinking like a Republican." From there Gingrich moved into waters the students surely did not expect. He cited the Detroit school system, where a black male is more likely to go to prison than graduate from high school.
"How can we tolerate systems more likely to send young Americans to prison than college?" asked Gingrich. "Republicans have this maniacally dumb idea of red versus blue. They say Detroit is a blue place, so we're not going to go there."
And he was just getting started.
"Republican political doctrine has been a failure," Gingrich said. "Look at New Orleans. How can you say that was a success? Look at Baghdad ... We've been in charge for six years and I don't think you can look around and say that was a great success.
"We have got to get beyond this political bologna. I'm not allowed to say anything positive about Hillary Clinton because then I'm not a loyal Republican, and she's not allowed to say anything positive about me because then she's not a loyal Democrat. What a stupid way to run a country." This last line he nearly spat out, expressing what seemed like genuine outrage. But the response was muted. Tepid applause bubbled up and then died within seconds.
Inhofe had recommended the students read Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" to learn about the global warming hoax, but Gingrich suggested they pick up newly elected French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy's "Testimony."
And finally, when it seemed he'd been as blasphemous as he could possibly be, Gingrich pulled out a whopper: "None of you should believe we are winning this war," he said, referring to the so-called war on terror. "We are in a phony war ... we have not been taking this seriously."
When his speech was over, the students stood and applauded politely, but the volume was distinctly lower than it had been just an hour before.
What do you make of that?