14 June 2011

Idiot of the Week Nominee: Newt Gingrich

For a few days after the mass defection of his campaign staff last week I was feeling sorry for Newt Gingrich. It didn't surprise me that his presidential campaign was in disarray, since he'd been pressured by Fox News into declaring earlier than he probably wanted to. It also seemed unfair, though predictable, that so many fellow Republicans condemned him for calling "Ryancare" as he saw it -- as "right-wing social engineering." But my sympathy stopped after I read this excerpt from last night's Republican presidential debate. The subject, prompted by comments by Herm Cain, was whether there should be any discrimination against Muslims in government hiring. Under pressure from Mitt Romney, who in this crowd stood out as the champion of tolerance, Cain dodged the question of whether he would require Muslims to take a special loyalty oath. Gingrich did not hesitate to step into the breach.

GINGRICH: I just want to comment for a second. The Pakistani who emigrated to the U.S. became a citizen, built a car bomb which luckily failed to go off in Times Square was asked by the federal judge, how could he have done that when he signed -- when he swore an oath to the United States. And he looked at the judge and said, "You're my enemy. I lied." Now, I just want to go out on a limb here. I'm in favor of saying to people, if you're not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.
We did this -- we did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists. And it was controversial both times, and both times we discovered after a while, you know, there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country. And we have got to have the guts to stand up and say no.

Let's focus on the real idiocy of this comment. Gingrich wants to make Muslims take a loyalty oath to prove their loyalty to the nation and its Constitution -- after he's just shown, as if to confirm a popular stereotype, that one Muslim had lied when taking his oath of citizenship. If a determined and ruthless terrorist will lie to get into this country, why wouldn't he lie when asked to swear his loyalty as a bureaucrat? For the bigots who assume that Muslims will lie whenever it suits them, Gingrich had really made the argument, not for a loyalty oath, but for completely excluding Muslims from the government workforce -- and I can't be sure whether he realized the implications of his statement or not. Add to that the idiocy of his analogy (Did we require loyalty oaths from Nazi job applicants? To whom historically was the analogy actually to apply?) -- and we have at least one race in which Gingrich is the definite front runner right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Given his predilection for sticking both feet in his mouth whenever he feels the need to speak publicly, I'd say you could simply nominate Gingrich as "idiot" and leave it at that.