Sunday, April 4, 2010

Newt's Kids, Continued

I wrote my last post on Friday, and then on Sunday, like a basket of chocolates from the Easter Bunny, arrived further evidence of my point in the morning paper.

Cal Thomas turned his column over this week to Newt Gingrich, who said the following when asked if overheated rhetoric might lead to violence: "For the mugger to complain that people are objecting to being mugged ... is an act of chutzpah on a grand scale." To be clear, the muggers he's talking about are the Democrats, the party that won the congressional elections in 2006 and 2008, as well as the presidency in 2008. The mugging is that they then had the gall to pass the health care bill, which they campaigned on in the last election.

How does Newt justify calling the predictable outcome of free, fair and democratic elections a "mugging"? "For any of these people who have deliberately bullied, bribed and abused the system to impose their will against the country to now be shocked that the country is unhappy with the machine, I think, is a further act of arrogance." And there you have it: an outcome Newt doesn't like is, by definition, illegitimate and "an act of arrogance." Lest you think that the "mugging" metaphor was a mistake or just a passing comment, Gingrich drove it home. The Democrats, he said, "would like to mug you routinely while you quiescently thank them for the privilege of being mugged." He knew exactly what he was saying--the Democrats are like violent criminals. And, well, you do what you have to do to defend yourself against violent criminals.

To hear Newt tell it, the health care outcome was not truly democratic. The other side got its way because it "deliberately bullied, bribed and abused the system," not because the Democrats were the majority party. Gingrich cannot accept that duly elected majorities in both houses voted for the health care bill. Somehow that becomes "abuse," because, you see, in Newt's world, the Democrats are not the real majority. He believes the U.S. is a "center-right" country, and that what we have now is "70 percent of the country being misgoverned by a militant minority."

Where does he get this number? As best I can tell, it is from the most recent Gallup poll on party affiliation, which shows 30% of Americans identify themselves as Democrats. What he fails to note is that 29% identify as Republicans and 39% as independents. So what Gingrich does is simply claim all of the independents as part of his "center-right" coalition.

This is intellectually dishonest. This same poll shows that when "including 'leaners'" the numbers are 45% Democrats and 44% Republicans. The country is split right down the middle. But Gingrich glibly ignores that fact in trying to paint the Democrats as a "militant minority" that is "mugging" the country. Well, what do we call it when a militant minority mugs the country? Newt knows--that's tyranny. And we know what happens to tyrants, don't we?

The former speaker is once again playing a cynical, dishonest and dangerous game. And it needs to stop.

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