Newt Gingrich as the incarnation of Gozer the Traveler
Two years ago, in Terrified Beyond The Capacity For Rational Thought, I wrote:
In their devastating November 4th defeat at the hands of an inexperienced, junior senator from Illinois, the Rethuglicans are in desperate search of a leader, someone that can match the intelligence, boldness, charm, and overwhelming popularity of Barack Hussein Obama. While their own humiliated presidential candidate, the anachronistic John McCain decomposes like so much roadkill in the hot Arizona sun, a furious competition for the 2012 election has begun.
Lord of the Flies comes to mind.
But looming above them all like the avenging Stay Puft Marshmallow man from the movie Ghostbusters is the former Speaker of the House, the ethically compromised, moral and political hypocrite par excellence, Newt “Dr. No” Gingrich.
Now that The Newtster has officially tossed his hat into the 2012 presidential ring (inevitably followed by a white towel as soon as he determines that, like Sarah Barracuda, he has maximized his potential for personal future economic gain), our attentions naturally turn to the question:
What are the larger socio-psychological issues that the Gingrich candidacy presents?
The essential nature of Gingrich’s insurgency in the House and his conduct as Speaker was the destruction of the informal institutions of American governance. By “informal institutions,” I mean those habits and customs outside of formal, written law that make democracy work. Some things are simply not done; everyone agrees to resist the temptation for political advantage in order to make the system work.
Gingrichism is the philosophy that all means short of illegality are fair game in the struggle for political power. He came to the fore in the House minority by personal attacks on other members’ patriotism; he stirred up the Republican base with the argument that the Democrats were not merely wrong, but evil and a threat to the Republic. As Speaker, he destroyed the existing committee structure and bill mark-ups, did away with Congressional institutions to educate members (such as the Office of Technology Assessment, or the Administrative Conference of the United States), and centralized power in the leadership. When he did not get his way with Clinton, he cavalierly shut down the government. Not cowed by the political disaster that ensued, he used the House’s impeachment power for political purposes and put the House Oversight Committee in the hands of Dan Burton with the express mandate to harass and cripple political opponents. Gingrich broke institutions not by accident, but on purpose.
One of Digby’s commenters sez:
“will to power” is the phrase coined by the philosopher [Friedrich Nietzsche] who went completely round the bend.
in children the practice of smashing things or holding the breath til blue or making everybody else as miserable as possible to get your own way is called “acting like a spoiled brat.”
of course the ones for whom it worked grew up continuing to do it and seem also to believe that dishonesty is some kind of higher form of intelligencs [sic].
Digby sums it up:
His campaign, with all of its narcissism, mendacity, intellectual incoherence, and duplicity is the Republican Party in its purest, least adulterated form. By looking at Gingrich we are not avoiding how the Republicans will choose their issues, or even their candidate: we are looking at their methods, ideology, goals, and tactics in their ultimate nature.
Or as The Master put it: By their fruits you shall know them.