So, if you understand the lens through which Gingrich sees U.S. politics, it would not surprise you that Official Washington has ground to such a bitter halt. Gingrich does not view his political adversaries as honest, patriotic Americans who simply favor different policies. They are deceivers determined to "destroy our country."
Similarly, Gingrich loves using wedge issues to divide Americans and pry loose votes, especially of disgruntled whites. So, he describes blacks living in poverty not as decent people struggling to make a living in a country that has a long, disgraceful record on race, but as a lower class of people with no work ethic and prone to crime.
In Iowa, Gingrich made this point, without explicitly defining the skin color though he could be sure that his white audience would add the shading in their minds. As part of his plan to get rid of "truly stupid" child-labor laws and put elementary school kids to work as janitors, he said:
"Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works so they have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash' unless it is illegal."
This racially tinged message has been part of Gingrich's world view since his academic days in 1971 when he devoted his PhD thesis to the arcane topic of "Belgian Education Policy in the Congo, 1945-1960," which adopted what was then a favorite conservative theme of criticizing the ungrateful anti-colonialism of Africans (although Gingrich did acknowledge the exploitative nature of Belgian policies).
Gingrich called on Africans to understand "the good as well as the bad aspects of colonialism" and warned against "Black xenophobia," although as New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd noted, "what's xenophobic about Africans wanting their oppressors to go away? It's like saying abused wives who want their husbands to leave are anti-men."
Over the decades, Gingrich has retained this paternalistic attitude toward white imperialism in Africa. It surfaced in 2010 when right-wing author Dinesh D'Souza constructed an absurd argument that Obama was channeling his dead Kenyan father, whom D'Souza described as "this philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions."
Gingrich praised D'Souza's insight, adding that Obama's "fundamentally out of touch" attitude toward Americans could only be explained "if you understand Kenyan, anticolonial behavior." In a similar tone, Gingrich now denounces Obama as "the food-stamp president" -- to the cheers of the Republican "base."
What's different now, however, is that Gingrich is treating the Republican presidential campaign and Mitt Romney much as he previously treated Congress under Jim Wright, something to be burned down if Gingrich can't get his way -- or if necessary for him to get his way. So, the former Massachusetts governor -- despite running as a conservative technocrat -- is really a despised "liberal" dispensing "pious baloney," according to Gingrich.
Maureen Dowd wrote in a Dec. 4, 2011, column that "Newt Gingrich's mind is in love with itself. It has persuaded itself that it is brilliant when it is merely promiscuous. This is not a serious mind. Gingrich is not, to put it mildly, a systematic thinker. His mind is a jumble, an amateurish mess lacking impulse control. He plays air guitar with ideas, producing air ideas. He ejaculates concepts, notions and theories that are as inconsistent as his behavior."
But that analysis perhaps makes too light of what Gingrich really represents. He is the destroyer of what true democracy requires, a healthy respect for your opponents and an acknowledgement that the vast majority of them are decent, honorable people, however much you may disagree with their political opinions.
That generosity toward others -- or even a readiness to acknowledge their common humanity -- is not permitted in Gingrich's world. In that nasty place, hard-working researchers trying to discover cures for lethal and crippling diseases are simply those who would use science "to desensitive society over the killing of babies."
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