This was the title of a piece Joe Klein wrote a few years back. Klein continued:
It’s almost always a joy listening to Gingrich when he’s on a tear. And he’s almost always on a tear of some sort. I caught up with Newt as he wandered around New Hampshire last week, which is what people who think they’re running for President do. Please, God, no, you say. Not that angry guy again. “He’s probably carrying too much baggage to be President,” said Peter Bergin, a Republican state representative from Amherst, N.H. “But he sure is a terrific idea man. He needs to be part of the debate.”
Absolutely. We might even create a new federal position to accommodate him, sort of like party ideologist in the old Soviet Union, except that the U.S. job would be the opposite of what it was in the U.S.S.R. Instead of imposing orthodoxy, the party idea-ologist—ideology is so un-American—would propose unorthodoxy. Gingrich was certainly wild with ideas last week, flicking them off at warp speed, like a dog shaking himself clean after romping through a pond.
The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.
Krugman’s piece today on the media’s recent discovery that the right is insane got me thinking about this:
Maybe it was just deference to power: as long as America was widely perceived as being on the way to a permanent Republican majority, few were willing to call right-wing extremism by its proper name.
I think this is about right (though in fairness, Klein’s Newt fluffery took place in 2006, after Republicans had lost some power).
“Liberal hawks” have never given a very good explanation of why they were so gung-ho about Iraq — just a lot of “no one could have predicted Bush would screw it up so badly” etc. Likewise, liberal wingnut fluffers (not all of whom were that pro-Iraq War) have never given an adequate explanation of why they thought George W. Bush and Newt Gingrich and the like were such serious people.
The answer in both cases is probably the same: it made a lot of sense professionally to suck up to the right at the time. I’d like to see Klein and others admit this for once.