In any event, there are many ways we can read the growing chorus of insider attacks upon the disgraced former House Speaker. We can, I suppose, focus our attention upon the specifics of the attacks themselves. That, sad to say, leads us to applaud people as odious as George Will, as ridiculous as Peggy Noonan, as blood-thirsty as Charles Krauthammer, only because they have managed to spy something real through the lenses normally viewing only poorly understood baseball, or fringed with icons of St. Ronald of Dixon, or red with the blood of swarthy types.
In Gerson's case, while we may agree with many of the specifics of what he is saying - that Gingrich's understanding of Sharia and its role in Muslim societies, including the United States, may well be lacking a little something we call "understanding" - yet there is embedded in this otherwise noteworthy column two sentences that almost made me destroy my laptop due to the sudden urge to spit take:
n the United States, public officials respect the conscience of citizens while protecting them from violence. The proper role of government is to aggressively fight terrorism, not to engage in theological judgments.Michael Gerson wrote that. Yes indeed. It is a monument to sanity. In the service of going after the disgraced former Speaker of the House, Gerson has managed to trip over the truth, and notice it sitting there. No doubt, he shall hop to his feet soon enough go on penning his usual fluff that is chock-a-block with advice for office-holders on making theological judgments.
Because of the incongruities involved when folks who are semi-regular readers of the horrible people suddenly feeling the urge to mutter, "Peggy! You go girl!", I think another way to read your typical Big Name Pundit, when said person has written about Newt, is through the interpretive lens of effrontery. Rather than, say, having to drink oneself to oblivion because one finds oneself agreeing with George Will, consider a totally different possibility. It isn't that Will has suddenly discovered the real world, or that Peggy Noonan no longer swoons over Ronald Reagan. These tidbits of reality, such as the Gerson's today, are accidents, really. No more than dollops of whip cream upon the usual Hot Crap Sundae that is their usual fare. They are done in service to a Greater Purpose. It is no secret these, and others, who have worked for years in the nation's capital, hold the disgraced former Speaker in contempt. With politics not being beanbag, as the saying goes, anything ready at hand that ensures the world understands a Gingrich Presidency would be far worse than anything currently under consideration is certainly available for tossing.
Even the truth.
Read this way, we can nod when Gerson writes what he has today, yet need not marvel at this moment of moderation. It is little different, in kind, from David Broder's famous quip that the Clinton's trashed a place not theirs. Will, Krauthammer, Noonan, and Gerson consider themselves the guardians of respectable conservative opinion, the gatekeepers to the House of Right. That they are usually, by turns, silly buffoons or blood-thirsty moral monsters or tin-eared pseudo-theologians is all in service of the Greater Good. In this case, that includes keeping Gingrich from moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW on January 20, 2013.
I'm not writing this because I feel sorry for Gingrich. I am defending neither his usual forays through the thickets of his own ignorance to the glorious meadows of his megalomania; nor am I defending the pretense of bad pundits assuming the tattered mantle of Lippmann and Broder. I am only suggesting that when the folks in question actually pen something that makes sense, it is an accident. It is obvious to most that Newt is a ridiculous figure to anyone not Newt. The folks who remind readers of this from the precincts of right-wing punditry aren't saying anything surprising. Rather, they are wiping the spittle and grime they rightly understand is the texture of a Gingrich speech from their clothes, telling any who might be interested that he is not "their kind."
Except, of course, he is. They would not exist today if not for Gingrich and his dogged pursuit of a former Speaker (Jim Wright) and the penis of a President (Bill Clinton). Their careers and his followed a similar rise in fortunes with American voters preference for a politics of nonsense, a flirtation with fabrication, and the no-holds-barred idiocy that is all that remains of the Republican Party in America. Now to turn on Gingrich in a last-ditch effort to ward off this fellow-creation of the past generation of American politics is amusing, but ultimately self-defeating. Their fortunes and his are linked in ways that would make Callista Gingrich blush; considering the memories I am quite sure she has of her own ways of linking to the previously married former Speaker, this is saying something.
In other words, when Gingrich fails to win the nomination, and fail he will, he shall not go quietly. He shall drag these, and many others, with him to the depths. That, after all, is how he rolls.