Sunday, December 17, 2006

# Posted 11:52 AM by Taylor Owen  

IS NEWT REASONABLE?: Newt (the new, mild mannered iteration) is one of those guys who sounds reasonable 95% of the time and then says something truly off the wall. In interviews it happens about every 5 minutes or so, and is often just a passing reference. Meet the Press this morning was a case in point. He even had some good ideas on Iraq, but then, without changing tone and without warning, he would drop a bizzare bomb of a comment. He wasn't called on any of them though. Interested in David's grading of him. Does he get penalised for four or five really stupid statements amongst a relatively benign 30 minute interview? Regardless, it's pretty clear he's running for pres...

It was discussed over at the Political Animal that I probably should have listed the wacky things newt said. First, let me just say that much what he said was very reasonable. His idea for a civil conversation corp to deal with 60% unemployment rate in Iraq is a good one, as is his focus on non-military 'levers of power' including a revamped State Department. His call for a real non-partisan discussion on Iraq is also welcomed, and bringing Obama and McCain together to generate ideas would be fantastic (David and I would certainly like it!). It should also be said that he is very slick and his manner is very impressive. Which only makes the nutty stuff stand out. Here is the transcript, and here are a few nuggets:

1. "if we are defeated in Iraq, there are not enough Marine elements in the world to evacuate the embassies that’ll come under siege."

2. "This is either an American commitment to victory or it is a defeat. And if the Democrats decide it’s a defeat, fine, then let’s—then let’s withdraw"

3. On choosing whether a website is jihadist and should be censored: "Look, I—you can appoint three federal judges if you want to and say, “Review this stuff and tell us which ones to close down.” I would just like to have them be federal judges who’ve served in combat."

4. FMR. REP. GINGRICH: "The local Muslims who are Americans and patriots and don’t want to be blown up in the mall thought it was terrific to arrest this guy for trying to buy hand grenades, and the ACLU thought there’s probably a real infringement of his legal right to be stupid.

MR. RUSSERT: But they’re Americans and patriots as well.

FMR. REP. GINGRICH: Yeah, Americans and patriots as well, but they’re suicidal in my judgment."

5. "You have—you have more censorship in the McCain-Feingold bill, which blocks the right of free speech about American campaigns than you have from the FBI closing down jihadists."

6. "So we’ve had a 30-year period of saying it’s OK to infringe free speech as long as it’s about politics. But now if you want to be a jihadist, and you want to go kill people, well who are we to say that’s morally wrong? I think that’s suicidal."

7. On his history of aggressive partisan rhetoric: "Look, first of all, it was a different time. I mean, you had a 40-year monopoly of power in the House by the Democrats. You, you were in very different kind of environment. You didn’t have a war that, that should focus every American on our own survival, which we—we have a big war, of which Iraq and Iran and Afghanistan are sub-sets. But we have a much bigger threat to our very survival. We didn’t have the rise of China and India."

8. and finally, on the Clinton impeachment: "The question is, do you want to go down the road of Nigeria and corruption and have a country in which, as long as he’s popular, he can break the law?"
(4) opinions -- Add your opinion

now you've got me curious - when is david doing his grading?

Note - came here via Political Animal.
So, which of those 8 "nuggets" is supposed to be so outrageous? They all look completely correct to me. I mean, is it really that outrageous to believe that McCain-Feingold restricts political speech?
Taylor: This is all over the map. Some of those comments seem reasonable (McCain-Feingold), some seem to be rhetorical exaggerations (there are in fact enough Marines to evacuate all the embassies), some seem to reflect Newt lost in his own sentence structure (partisan rhetoric), and some are just silly (combat-veteran judges).

I confess, I've always been a bit fond of Newt for the occasions when he gets exceited by history and important ideas. Unfortunately he has a tendency to let the Tom DeLay types flatter him and lead him into absurd positions. Basically, he lacked the political savvy to be a good Speaker of the House, though he had the smarts and cunning (and luck) to seize the moment and the House majority. Anyway, he's always been one to spout off lots of ideas and notions, some of which are quite good and some of which are loony. He needs a better filter.
I don't think Newt is running for President, but if you say you are running (cf. Joe Biden), suddenly your press coverage improves ...

Also, if you attack the first amendment, you get even more press attention, so why not gratuitously do it?

I found that attack to be the worst part of his 'new thinking'. It doesn't show much understanding of how the internet is being used and it doesn't show much understanding of the myriad problems in countering that kind of threat.

What it does smack of is a GOP tendency (perceived or real - you make the call) to want to launch a old-style "values campaign" as part of sound counterterrorism (or against 'global jihad'). To sum, Newt doesn't want to engage a war of ideas, he simply wants to call certain ones 'sedition' or some such, and rule them out, in the name of security ('suicide')...
Post a Comment