As the house conservative for the San Francisco Chronicle, Debra Saunders generally distinguishes herself by being a little less overtly crazy than your average conservative pundit. It might appear that she was trying to appeal to her left-of-center Bay Area readership in a recent column by slapping Newt Gingrich up alongside the head. A thrilling spectacle, to be sure.
Her attack on Newt, however, serves a dual purpose. While it entertains the dreadfully liberal denizens of the San Francisco region, it also tries to protect Republicans from being weighed down by Gingrich's excesses. Despite having been the leader of the GOP's 1994 takeover of congress and his reign as speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt has no standing to speak on the policies of the Republican Party. (Please pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)
I can see why Saunders would take this tack. Gingrich made quite a fool of himself while slobbering uncontrollably over some recent scribbling by the noisome Dinesh D'Souza, poster child for right-wing pseudo-intellectualism. (Dinesh would be an ideal professor for Beck University!) According to Gingrich, D'Souza has penetrated the mystery that is Barack Obama. As the former speaker told National Review: “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?”
Hmm. Why not “Angolan anti-colonial behavior”? That African country had a much longer history of colonial strife than Kenya. Why didn't either D'Souza or Gingrich ever think of that? It's puzzling.
Moving quickly into damage-control mode, Debra Saunders informs us that Newt is not to be taken too seriously:
list ostensibly detailing Gingrich's “history of making bigoted and offensive statements.” Pundits follow. Maureen Dowd opines, “The smear artists are claiming not only that the president is a socialist but that he suffers from a socialism gene.”Please! cries Saunders. Don't attack Newt! Don't you see that I'm already clubbing him like a baby seal?!
The problem with this whole process: Like the Newter himself, it takes Gingrich and his pronouncements way too seriously. Gingrich always did talk like a blurb writer: Every subject he touches warrants hyperbole, and he has no attention span. It's wrong to respond to anything Gingrich says as if he thought about it.
Saunders is worried that Newt is too visibly spouting the bilge and cant that characterizes today's conservative mainstream. The prospects of a happy November are threatened by the possibility that too much overt crazy talk might wake people up to the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of America's right wing. (The Bush administration demonstrated its fiscal bankruptcy, too, but people are conveniently forgetting that as well.)
Don't listen to Newt, people! According to Saunders, he is “authentically dishonest.” Prick up your ears, folks. She's right!
If she had a little more courage, she could say the same thing about the entire conservative political movement. (But it's okay to be insane if you're a Republican.)