One of the great oddities of the moment is the apparent belief, held in some circles, that Newt Gingrich is some kind of political soothsayer. Granted, this notion is mainly fostered by Newt himself but it remains perplexing that so many people seem prepared to grant him the guru status he craves with such unbecoming, grasping immodesty.
Now, you may say, Newt is merely a superior entertainer and not someone to be taken too seriously. But some people, not least Newt himself, do take him terribly seriously. That being the case, let's have a look at the interview he's just given National Review. Newt is promoting a new documentary on religion in America and so:
Gingrich says he has major concerns about American culture, and “the degree to which it is becoming an anti-religious culture.”
“Ironically, in some ways, it is becoming a culture in which it is more acceptable for schools to teach about Islam than to teach about Christianity,” says Gingrich. “If you think about that, it verges on the bizarre.”
“The modern Left is essentially proto-totalitarian,” says Gingrich.
Obama, Gingrich adds, “is a radical in the sense that the victory of those values would mean the end of American civilization as we know it.”
“The second [wing] is the highly educated intelligentsia,” continues Gingrich. “These are people of whom Ronald Reagan said ‘it isn’t what they don’t know that’s frightening, it’s what they know that isn’t true.’ These are the people who believe that Castro is really okay, that Chávez is a pretty good guy, and that it was terrific that Ahmadinejad got a nice run last week and no one was mean to him in New York.”
And finally, inevitably, the Munichean Temptation arises:
Looking to Afghanistan, Gingrich says, “the real underlying challenge is that this is a much bigger problem than people understand. You can pull out of Afghanistan, and then what? You want to pull out of Pakistan? Fine. And then what? We pulled out of Somalia, and now we have pirates. You think these guys are going away? Or, do you think that this will become a bigger problem? It’s like dealing with Iran. The last few weeks have been worse than Chamberlain. This is Baldwin in 1935, just willfully blind because he didn’t want to tell the British people the truth because it would offend them.”
If things are so dire, then where is America’s Churchill? “I don’t know, we’ll find out,” says Gingrich. “I hope that we can find one.”
And while you may say that some of this is just more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger nonsense, it's hard not to think that there's a certain glee to it too as at least some Republicans take the view that matters must become worse before everyone wakes up and realises that the United States needs its own damn Churchill. Doubtless Newt has someone in mind** who could play that role...Indeed, if you want to complain about radicals and revolutionaries, you might be advised to avoid the Leninist Things must get worse before they can get better argument. The real enemy, you see, is not Chavez or Castro or even Osama bin Laden, but your own countrymen who commit the crime of disagreeing with you.
Remind me, however, why is this guy taken seriously?
*I can't quite believe even Gingrich believes the tripe he's peddling. But who knows, perhaps he does.
**That would be Newt himself, riding to the rescue all togged-up as a cigar-smoking, brandy-swilling Captain America. Or something.