It has to be true that no one in political life has been more fortunate in their choice of opponents than Barack Obama (i.e., Peter Fitzgerald, Carol Mosely Braun, Blair Hull and the seven dwarfs of the 2004 Democratic Senatorial primary , Jack Ryan, Alan Keyes, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and now the rest of the circular firing squad known as the GOP leadership). How else to explain Newt Gingrich stepping into a Reagan-loving minefield with his comments today?
Reagan at the U.N. on 6/19/82: “I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world. … My people have sent me here today to speak for them as citizens of the world, which they truly are, for we Americans are drawn from every nationality represented in this chamber today.”
Newt today: “I am not a citizen of the world. I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous.”
Newt said this with no sense of irony. As political theatre, it’s awesome to watch, in the same way a tornado is awesome to watch–that is, from a distance. This may be Newt’s “Tonya Harding Moment”–one where he whacks an opponent, only to realize that doing it sinks himself and that the lunkheads that helped him do it, were, in fact, lunkheads. Whoever writes Newt’s speeches or does his research should be handed over to Cheney and Addington for enhanced interrogation. Does they not understand that people have access to the Google and can trace these things? If this was an accident, and he didn’t know that Reagan had said this, it may be the equivalent of Jerry Ford freeing the Poles from Soviet domination in the 1976 Presidential Debate with Jimmy Carter–the foot-shooting moment that everyone remembered as they went into the voting booth a few days later.
Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps criticizing Reagan’s foreign policy is Newt’s new strategy to grab the mantle of leadership of the Republican Party. After all, not many conservatives were comfortable with Reagan’s embrace of Gorby at Reykjavik. Maybe he’s figuring that the best way to separate himself from the Republican pack is to separate himself from Reagan. I doubt it, but can’t think of any other explanation (other than “oops, get me rewrite!”)
The good news for the Republicans is that it’s an eternity until anybody other than goobers like me start paying attention. Time will tell.