Thursday, August 04, 2011

Newts in the News

Well, we're five months away from the Iowa Caucuses and every day a different combination of Republican presidental candidates descends on the state and traipses around saying silly things. At this point in the process, candidates are not looking for the votes of moderate Republicans and certainly not interested in independent voters. They're mainly trying to out-bigot and out-reactionary each other so they can bring out the most rabid anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Obama voters next January. There'll be time enough to court sensible folks if they win the nomination.

So who's making news in Iowa today? Let's start with Newt Gingrich, who addressed a group of civic leaders at the Cedar Rapids Country Club (truly a man of the people, that Newt) and made up a new phrase, "bureaucratic socialism," to describe Obama's policies. He also called the president a left-wing radical, which if true would certainly be news to all of us who have watched Obama capitulate to the right-wingers for the last couple of years. The actual quote was "Obama is a left-wing radical who wants to raise taxes." I don't know if the Newt has noticed, but (a) most economists agree that eliminating the Bush tax cuts is essential to a balanced budget, (b) most Americans think this is the fair thing to do, and (c) if Obama wants to raise taxes, he has a funny way of showing it--namely, not raising taxes.

According to the story in the Register, the Newt got a hearty round of applause for suggesting that the Wall Street reforms enacted in 2010--the reforms meant to prevent the unethical practices that led to the economic quagmire we're still in--should be repealed. Who stands to benefit from the absence of such regulations? The people who already have all the money.

But that doesn't bother the Newt. He says Wall Street reform "restricts business" and is an example of unnecessary government regulation. I have no doubt that's where the applause broke out. To Newt and his followers at the Cedar Rapids Country Club, there's no such thing as a necessary government regulation. If it stands in the way of the rich getting richer, it's unnecessary.

And later, when the Newt said "Obama is creating bureaucratic socialism," the newspaper account doesn't give the context, other than the fact that it must have followed the equally fanciful "left-wing radical" remark. But I'm not sure the Newt needed context in that crowd. I'm not sure he needed complete sentences. He could just as easily have read from a list of dog-whistle words: socialist, left-wing, unnecessary regulations, raise taxes, ya-da-ta, ya-da-ta.

And the Cedar Rapids Country Club would have thought he was actually saying something.

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