By Sid Schwab / Herald columnist
Other than Saint Ronnie of the Trickle-down, there’s none in the bleak history of “modern” Republicanism more responsible for its turn to the politics of destruction than Newt Gingrich.
The false promises of his “Contract [On] America” aimed directly at the buttons of resentment, and his cynical instructions to R candidates on the use of inflammatory words to win elections have become the grist of their grift ever since. Even after (or maybe because of) being censured and disgraced, by a bipartisan 88 percent of U.S. House representatives for ethics violations as speaker, he enjoys favored status on Fox “news” and other purveyors of right-wing falsehood and lofty dudgeon (Moderate Voice: tinyurl.com/newtwords4u).
Letting the catastrophe out of the bag, his latest dissociative discourse foreshadowed not only the peril of Republican control of Congress, but how lost he is in the forests of fantasy. Said he, of the members of Congress’ Jan. 6 investigation panel:
“[T]his is all going to come crashing down … they’re the ones who in fact, I think, face a real risk of jail for the kinds of laws they’re breaking … they’re running over people’s civil liberties. And what they need to understand is on (Jan. 4) next year, you’re going to have a Republican majority in the House and a Republican majority in the Senate. And all these people who have been so tough, and so mean, and so nasty are going to be delivered subpoenas for every document, every conversation, every tweet, every email.”
“Nasty.” Said Gingrich, owner of rights to the word. Gets a nickel whenever it’s used.
He chose not to enumerate the “laws they’re breaking,” nor was he asked to by his Foxian host. Because there is none. Because investigating a deadly attempt to overturn a fraud-free, certified election is what, among other protective actions, constitutional duty demands. It’s true, though, that laws are being broken as the panel does its work: Ignoring lawful subpoenas, Trump’s mobsters are refusing to cooperate, as Republicans and their media darlings rejoice in their scornful lawlessness. Hillary’s emails deserve eternal inquiry, but not organized sedition, pre-planned at the highest of levels of government. Gingrich wants Republicans to run on that.
(Side bet: If Mitch McConnell becomes Senate majority leader again, how long before he abouts his double-face and bans the filibuster?)
Not one to be outdone, nor to share the spotlight, Trump weighed in, accusing the Jan. 6 panel of being “vicious,” because “they’ll go after children,” referring to their requested audience with 40-year-old daughter Ivanka. Mysteriously, he didn’t mention his own and his party’s “going after” the child Hunter Biden. Slipped his mind, probably. As to what’s left of what some still consider a mind, and not to pile on or anything, that video of him encouraging applause is pretty pathetic. Almost makes one feel sad for him. So desperately needy (Twitter: tinyurl.com/pleaseclap4me).
It’s being reported that Newt’s unwise counsel is still sought and accepted by Republican congressional leaders. How great for America. If returned to majority status, they’ll continue to do what they’ve been doing in the minority: nothing. Not legislating, anyway, except, undoubtedly, more top-heavy tax cuts and deregulation. They’ll spend their time “investigating” Democrats for doing what preservation of our democratic republic demands. They’d deserve investigation if they weren’t.
To the New York attorney general, Eric Trump pleaded the Fifth 500 times; Trump’s lawyer John Eastman, 146 times to the Jan. 6 panel. Alex Jones, “Almost a hundred.” Witch-hunts? No “there” there? The Trumps have always been a crime family. Criminals attracting criminals.
At the end of the Trump administration, seeing voter suppression laws sprouting in red states like poison mushrooms, and the naked attempts of a major political party to overthrow a legitimate election with virtually no pushback from its members, the little-known but well-respected Center for Systemic Peace, which studies and evaluates governments around the world (systemicpeace.org/polityproject.html), judged the U.S. to have “dropped below the democracy threshold,” qualifying, instead, as “anocracy,” with “a high risk of political instability” (Wikipedia: tinyurl.com/2define4u).
Who can argue otherwise? Trumpists and many Republicans have been predicting or calling for civil war. And passing legislation allowing legislators in red states to reverse disliked election outcomes. For what it’s worth, at the end of 2021, after a year of the Biden presidency, the Center placed the U.S. back into the democracy column. At the level of Brazil. One can hope it’s a trend. But if voters let Newt, Trump, Ted, Rand, Kevin, Mitch, Ron, Jim, Marjorie, Mark, Lauren, Tucker, Laura, Sean … have anything to say about it, it won’t be for long. Authoritarianism is their goal. They’ve all but promised it.
Email Sid Schwab at email@example.com.