Sunday, December 11, 2011

Newt The Pander Bear

“Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century,

"I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community.”

Thus did Newton Leroy Gingrich make a play to out-NeoCon Mitt Romney. This is an old talking point and it is one of the bigger fatter lies put out by the Likudniks in and out of Israel. It is the rationalization for the Idea of “Greater Israel,” the notion that Jewish state should encompass the entire portion of the former British Mandate of Palestine. It is a proposition that the theft of the West Bank and the Golan Heights is not theft at all since no “real” people are being disadvantaged. It is also a neat way to deny that the Nekba ever happened.

You can really take the measure of Newt by this statement. The overcompensated historian for Fannie Mae threw raw meat to the Greater Israel crowd in a cynical move to garner votes.

Give Newt his due, he really knows what is required in the game of “who is the greater friend of Israel. This was a speech that would have done the ultra-Likudnik, Arabophobe, and all around nasty piece of work Avigdor Lieberman proud. The speech by Gingrich was designed to send the AIPAC crowd in to paroxysms of rapture. 

While many see this speech as a gaff, I do not gentle reader. In a primary process designed and operated on the principle of telling people exactly what they want to hear, facts be damned, Newt captured the Israel Uber Alles zeitgeist of the Republican Party. This was no gaff, this was a calculated move to capture a critical element of the Republican base. While intellectuals on both the right and left side of the political divide were picking up their collective jaws from the floor, the AIPAC / CUFI crowd were dancing in the streets. Gingrich was telegraphing these movers and shakers that he was their guy. Note how Newt did not back down from the stance in the debate, even after Romney pinged him for it. No, Newt claimed to be “truth telling”

“"Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes," he answered. "Are we in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States? The current administration tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process... Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, if there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It's fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, enough lying about the Middle East."

Let’s unpack that quote, shall we? Not only are these people unreal, they are even more of the “other.” They are to a man, woman, and child, terrorists. Even the babies in diapers are part of this “terrorist” cell posing as a people.  That quote by Gingrich was toxic beyond belief, it turned an entire people into a band of sub-human monsters. It turned the Palestinians into demon-possessed hoards of zombie killers. Nicely played Newt, and bonus points for calling this calumny the “truth.”

But there will be no blow-back for Newt; no real down-side. This is the Republican Primaries gentle reader, and the lunatics have taken over the asylum. Romney and others might slap Gingrich’s wrist, but that is the extent of the punishment that will be doled out. The Elephants can not call out Newt on his bad behavior, because they too are in the game of “who is the best friend of Israel.”

This is how Mitt trimmed his sails:

"The last thing [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu needs to have is not just a person who's a historian, but someone who is also running for president of the United States stand up and say things that create extraordinary tumult in... his neighborhood," Romney said. "And if I'm president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability and make sure that I don't say anything like this. Anything I say that can affect a place with -- with rockets going in, with people dying. I don't do anything that would harm that -- that process. And, therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I'd get on the phone to my friend, Bibi Netanyahu and say, would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do? Let's work together because we're partners. I'm not a bomb-thrower. Rhetorically or literally."

Again, let’s unpack that. Please note that absolutely nowhere does Multiple Choice Mitt ever call Gingrich out on his blatant bigotry. Notice the almost servile note Magic Underwear Man takes to Bibi: would this statement help, how can I help you, would you like a back rub? By his statements you think that Mitt was at the beck and call of Bibi Netanyahu, that the US was the client of Israel; not the other way around. 

It is  not like Israel is without resources. The last time the Palestinians got too frisky with rockets, Israel stomped all over the Gaza strip in something called “Operation Cast Lead” and then followed up with the siege of Gaza. Exactly what kind of “help” would Mitt be offering that could trump that one-two punch? Other than carpet bombing Gaza into oblivion, there is no way Mitt could match the savagery of Cast Lead and the Gaza blockade. 

Gingrich easily swatted Mitt aside by invoking the sacred shade of Reagan. By calling himself a “Reaganite,”  managed to short circuit any response by the other candidates. This worked more than others would suspect because Newt was in Congress during the Reagan era, making it much easier for him to cover himself in the mantle of the Gipper. It really does not matter that the claim was hilariously untrue, that it does not even have a passing acquaintance with reality. Reagan is the new JFK, everyone claims his legacy.

Newt understand the importance of blowing the Reagan dog whistle along what Taylor Marsh calls “ Middle East dog whistle stuff that matches his dream of John Bolton as his secretary of state.”  This is why Newt is making the most of his second look. He knows exactly what trips the triggers of the conservative faithful. Stay on the ideological message, and they will forgive a multitude of sins; about three wives plus a corrupt speakership’s worth. Taylor’s suspicion that “Establishment Republicans will be downing antacids like candy”  about the rise of Newt is most likely true; but they only have themselves to blame. 

Over the last thirty years they have allowed their party to drift further and further in to the la-la land of ideological purity. They have pandered to kooks. Now the kooks have found their man, the utterly cynical Gingrich. Gingrich understands like no other Republican what the base wants to hear. He also understands that looking past the primaries is a fool’s game. Capture the base, crush the competition, then worry about the general. To capture the base you have to be willing to truly embrace the crazy. You have to be willing to pander, and be believable. Newt is willing to pander, and pander in a way that is believable. He proved it by doubling down on his Palestinian comments. Republicans love that stuff; they love loud and wrong. While others see a gaff, your faithful corespondent sees only genius. It’s an evil genius, but genius none the less.
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