Friday, November 25, 2011
Gingrich is "a stupid man's idea of what a smart man sounds like."
Along with the many frustrating aspects of this campaign season there's the absolute butchering of the means by which we communicate verbally either by mistake or intent. There's the ludicrous assertion, for example by some, that Newt Gingrich is a smart guy, an idea man who would be an effective leader for the country. He is not alone in filling a momentary leadership vacuum in his party, but he is an exquisite example of just how fractured our political process has become.
Currently at the top of the Republican presidential candidate polls, Gingrich is enjoying a resurgence that may catapult him into nominating range - - we should be so lucky. Without reiterating the many obvious flaws of the man, his baggage, his absurd flip-flops on numerous issues and his peculiar observations that are supposed to make sense, suffice it to say he is a pathetically flawed figure.
But he speaks with a bluster that many voters in his party find appealing. Recently with respect to the demonstrators on campuses and in the streets who are protesting Wall Street excesses among other things, Gingrich said they should 'just go out and find a job, after taking a bath'. As usual the little man is stuck in the rhetoric of the sixties when hippies roamed the land after spending days in the muddy environs of Woodstock. Although it was a big applause line no-one seemed to pause over the difficulty of finding work these days. Typically the angry right makes sex, joblessness and the lack of sanitation a major talking point, as if a squeaky clean demeanor were adequate cover for disreputable political and personal behavior.
Basically Gingrich is a super sophist, the dictionary definition of "a person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly." That is an apt description of the man or as Paul Krugman quoted on ABC's Sunday talk show, Gingrich is "a stupid man's idea of what a smart man sounds like." So much for the Gingrich aura and his inexplicable public appeal in some quarters.
But for sheer brazen bravado Grover Norquist can't be topped. Watching him pivot and smile endearingly in a recent interview was a lesson in lugubrious verbiage as he insisted it wasn't the pledges he extracted from legislators that gummed up the works in Congress - - not his fault but voter reaction to how things get done in Washington. When the interviewer mentioned that recalcitrant members of Congress would likely be primaried Norquist coyly demurred, saying that voters would make that decision, nothing to do with him. And on Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough ridiculed the notion that Norquist had so much power repeating his usual bit about the failure of this administration to present a budget. True as that may be, dismissing the Norquist pledge as inconsequential turns a blind eye to the obvious power this outsider wields by threatening the political futures of any who stand by their pledge not to raise taxes rather than their oath of office.
As the turmoil of candidate tussles continues and the constant misstatements about the president and Democrats abound it is clear that no amount of monitoring can keep pace with the daily harangues launched on the campaign trail. One keeps hoping that truth will drive the debate and keep us on a steady course but it is far more likely it will continue to be true that "We're lost, but we're making good time."
We are witnessing the demise of truth and reason and we're in a big hurry to get it done.