Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

03 August, 2007

Who are you and what have you done with Newt Gingrich?

I'm either having some serious acid flashbacks, or Newt Gingrich said some things that made sense. From a speech he made at the Young America's Foundation National Conservative Student Conference:
From there Gingrich moved into waters the students surely did not expect. He cited the Detroit school system, where a black male is more likely to go to prison than graduate from high school.

"How can we tolerate systems more likely to send young Americans to prison than college?" asked Gingrich. "Republicans have this maniacally dumb idea of red versus blue. They say Detroit is a blue place, so we're not going to go there."

Come again? Newt is concerned that the "lock-'em-all-up" strategy of dealing with the urban underclass is intolerable? Newt Gingrich?
"Republican political doctrine has been a failure," Gingrich said. "Look at New Orleans. How can you say that was a success? Look at Baghdad ... We've been in charge for six years and I don't think you can look around and say that was a great success."

This is getting really fucking weird.
And finally, when it seemed he'd been as blasphemous as he could possibly be, Gingrich pulled out a whopper: "None of you should believe we are winning this war," he said, referring to the so-called war on terror. "We are in a phony war ... we have not been taking this seriously."

Holy shit - looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

I've never liked Newt Gingrich, and when I read these words, a big part thinks he's trying to position himself as a potential, I don't know, "sane" alternative to the freak show that is the GOP presidential field - although I'd be hard-pressed to understand how pointing out some hard truths to the Republican true believers is a viable primary campaign strategy.

But on the other hand, Newt is the only national conservative I know of who is acknowledging there are actual problems we face as a nation beyond the specter of same-sex marriage and brown people who want to make us all grow beards or wear burkas. He seems to understand that as a nation, we failed with Katrina. We've failed in Iraq. We've all but failed in Afghanistan. He's acknowledged that global warming is an actual problem. Now, I don't trust his thinly-veiled calls for bipartisanship, particularly given his conduct in the mid-1990s, and I know I won't agree with many of his solutions. I'm sure his solution for the Detroit schools is privatization, that private enterprise is in a better position to provide hurricane protection and disaster relief, and that market-based solutions can curb climate change. I know he's a Middle East hawk. I still wouldn't trust him as far as I can throw him. But I have to admit, there's a part of me that's thrilled that despite the vast ideological gulf between our views, we have a political adversary that seems to be on the same page in terms of at least some of the problems that we're facing, rather than someone who pretends that nothing is wrong and that George Bush is awesome when he's not coddling Mexicans.

And I don't know if that my being thrilled is really sad or a cause for some hope. But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy whatever free buzz it is I'm experiencing and will know that I've come down when I see Newt on C-SPAN calling for an immediate invasion of Pakistan.

Ah, sobriety.

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