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Gingrich's favorite two words

How many times can you say secular socialist in a single breath? If you’re Newt Gingrich, you can’t say it enough. Secular socialist. Secular socialist. Secular socialist. Secular socialist. Gasp. It’s the repetition you hear coming from the pages of the former House speaker’s new book, “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine.” Huff! There it is again.

How many times can you drum that double-scare into a four-page introduction? If you’re Newt Gingrich you mix it up: the nounal form -- secular socialist; the many adjectival variations -- secular-socialist ideology, secular-socialist machine; secular-socialist Left. Newt tries them all. All told, secular socialist pops up 11 times over the four pages. Just so you don’t forget.

Did I mention the table of contents? How many times can secular socialist show up in a book’s chapter titles? In this case, the preferred variation is secular-socialist machine, as in Chapter 2: Why “Secular-Socialist Machine” is the Only Way to Describe the Left, and Chapter 4: The Secular-Socialist Machine in Action, or Chapter 7: Why Big Business and the Secular-Socialist Machine Are Natural Allies. In all, we are reminded of the secular-socialist machine in five of the first seven chapter titles. Lest we forget.

When you get tipsy on a term, you run the risk of well, sounding tipsy, as Newt did here: “The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” That bit of woozy writing got Abe Foxman’s ire up. The national director of the Anti-Defamation League demanded that Gingrich condemn the statement, and after waffling publicly Gingrich finally waffled privately to Foxman in a letter: “I recognize the horror and the evil of the Nazi regime and nothing in my new book To Save America should be interpreted as a statement of moral equivalence between totalitarian regimes and the secular-socialist left. My intent instead was to define the scale of the challenge to classic American civilization posed by secular-socialism.” Count two more rat-a-tat-tats of Newt’s newest and most beloved compound curse.

Why all the repetition? If it were only repetition, we could write it off as just the drooling that comes from intoxication by one’s own language. But the repetition signifies something worse for Newt and the party he once led: a slumping toward simplicity. No matter the inanity of the language, if you say it enough – to the point of a thumping in the head – people will eventually believe it, or so the hope goes.

If Gingrich were once, as he has believed himself to be, the intellect of the GOP, he is now indistinguishable from other simpletons of extremism. It’s a shame for a man who is loaded up with college degrees: bachelor’s, master’s, Ph.D and has been a college professor. In his mania to attract the noisy fringe, he has lost all pretense to reasoned analysis in favor of incendiary rhetoric – the Nazi statement should be evidence enough but the book abounds in other examples. Barely five paragraphs in, we read: “America as we know it is now facing a mortal threat.” And not so long after that: “Time has not run out, but it is running short. It’s up to those of us who love our country to save America from the destructive, irreversible transformation that the Left have in store for us.”

Scattered elsewhere are Newt’s assertions that President Obama has blackmailed Congress into passing an energy bill, that Democrats have staged a takeover of the health care system, that the secular socialists are pushing the country toward totalitarianism.

As the Economist online recently said, Gringrich is putting his “academic credentials” to “hackish ends. … The Republican Party's pell-mell flight from intellectual seriousness is the most worrying problem American party politics faces. .. There is a vast difference in intellectual ability between Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. But there is no difference in what they say anymore.”

Why write a book like this, or write one at all? These days no candidate runs for office without a book outlining his life or platform. “To Save America” could be an unsubtle first salvo in Newt’s bid for the presidency in 2012. If there is anything subtle here, it is this: “After leaving Congress in 1999 with a balanced budget and a booming economy,” Gingrich writes, “I certainly did not foresee Republican failure so vast that it allowed left-wing radicals to take over the House, Senate, and Presidency.” That subtle subtext? Vote Gingrich 2012.

By Steven E. Levingston  |  June 2, 2010; 5:30 AM ET
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Sure, the academic credentials are nice, but let's not forget that Newt Gingrich rose to prominence on a technical detail: C-SPAN cameras were trained on the podium and did not move. Thus the C-SPAN audience couldn't tell when a speech was being delivered to an empty House chamber, as so many of Mr. Gingrich's were.

On the C-SPAN of 20 years ago, every speech looked like a major address. And Mr. Gingrich was simply the first to figure that out.

Posted by: mattintx | June 2, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Despite the fact that he has no shame, he will prove once and for all that he is a total idiot.

Posted by: hadelaide | June 2, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Yeah it is the secular socialists versus the White Christian male Taliban. or maybe a Corporatocrisy where companies hand chosen by a few rich Christians decide what policies will serve the interests of those companies and not the people.

Gingrich is for government by the corporations, for the corporations to exclude all others.

And I wish someone would please explain this Government takeover of healthcare??? Where is that exactly??? Have all the doctors and hospitals suddenly gone out of business and I now have to go to some government clinic someone I was not made aware of - -or is this just another one of the ramped up Instill Fear PROJECTIONS (kind of like projectile vomiting of fear) that the GOP feels they must make because they think the people are too stupid to actually sit down and figure out that hey -- I can still go to my doctor)

Posted by: racerdoc | June 2, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

LOL...clearly Steven didn't read Newts book. Objectivity is dead in America.

Posted by: NO-bama | June 2, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Clearly, Steven didn't read Newts book. Hey Steven, you are a disgrace. You should resign and do something you are qualified to do such as flip burgers.

Posted by: NO-bama | June 2, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Uh, yeah, No-bama. Clearly the book reviewer didn't read the book he just reviewed. As made evident by the fact that he formed an opposite conclusion to the one you would have reached had you read it. (Sigh).

I ask again: where did all the intelligent right-wingers go. Were there ever any?

Posted by: chert | June 2, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I've heard Gingrich use the word 'secular' before and have been astonished by it. Yeah, yeah, socialist has been a dirty word in the US since the 19th century, but secular? Is the establishment-of-religion clause entirely forgotten?

Posted by: bbolles | June 2, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

another mistress

Posted by: calif-joe | June 2, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

adulterous hypocrite

Posted by: hohandy | June 2, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Sure this book is bilge (as many of these political exercises tend to be) but what did you expect? Newt's trying to connect with the rightwing rank and file, an especially dimwitted lot susceptible to the usual scare tactics, oversimplifications and misplaced nostalgia for a past that either never was or was in fact pretty lousy.

Posted by: CopyKinetics | June 2, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

When the Republicans can follow a leader who can stay married, hold onto a job and engage in a discussion without name-calling, I might listen more.

Posted by: citizen625 | June 2, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ever notice how much newt (deliberate use of lower case) resembles Porky Pig?

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | June 2, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I too have been curious about this juxtaposing of secular with socialist and the examples Newt gives to prove his case. Clearly the man's strategy is to take power back at any cost. He's figured out how Palin has garnered popularity over her mixed metaphors and wants some of that.

Posted by: Jose5 | June 2, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Newt is such a has been. Remember his Contract with America which became the Contract "ON" America. His failed then and now he tries to resurrect himself as a true Christian and one that can be trusted. He is bantering to the extremists of the party hoping to become their leader toward the Presidency.
Sorry Newt, you and Charlie Tuna have to be thrown back in for lack of quality.

Posted by: beachbum1938 | June 2, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

will he switch to pedophile from adulterer now that he's a catholic?

Posted by: calif-joe | June 2, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I think that when they tried "socialist" with focus groups they thought, 'yes, like Social Security', so they had to put "secular" in front of it.

It is tough to make the case that a law that keeps insurance companies from dumping people because they are sick is secular socialism.

This guy has zero chance of getting a Republican Presidential nomination.

Posted by: cyberfool | June 2, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

If President Obama is a "secular socialist," why not a sobriquet for Newt, such as "secular windbag"?

Posted by: Irishvetter | June 2, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I think that when they tried "socialist" with focus groups they thought, 'yes, like Social Security', so they had to put "secular" in front of it.

It is tough to make the case that a law that keeps insurance companies from dumping people because they are sick is secular socialism.

This guy has zero chance of getting a Republican Presidential nomination.
He was sitting in judgment of Clinton's affair while having his own affair.

Posted by: cyberfool | June 2, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

What we truly need to end the gridlock in Washington, bridge the divides between Americans of different beliefs and, ultimately, to solve the nation's problems are more people to carefully explain why anyone who doesn't agree with them is just plain bad, and the only way to make America better is to crush the opposition. New catchphrses are always helpful. They show true intelligence. I'm going to goouton a limb and guess the book gets high marks from most Fox News show hosts.

Posted by: Sutter | June 2, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Newt, Sarah, Mitt, Bobby J., and all the other GOP knucleheads need to go on a cruise ship to nowhere that never docks. Then those that are serious about leading our country and doing the real people's businees (not corporate)can focus on the real issues at hand, not idiotic chatter and rhetoric.

Posted by: classicskins | June 2, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Newt is not a dumb guy. Ironically, he's the very thing that the current batch of Republican politicians is telling their followers that they should hate: an intellectual. But in the current dumbed-down version of the Republican party, the language of shallow, mindless repetition is the only thing that will get one elected. He's smart enough to know this, and he's doing his best. But he's not a natural dummy, like Sarah, and the ignorant mob may not buy it.

Posted by: DaveHarris | June 2, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

As someone who believes in secularism and refuses to toss out blanket accusations of socialism, and yes, is a bit to the left of the spectrum, I want this book. It sounds like the best humor read ever.

Posted by: ravensfan20008 | June 2, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Flush rimbowl's function in life used to be making newt look sane.

Now the roles are reversed.

Posted by: BattleOffSamar | June 2, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Two favorite words as applied to Newt:

Fatuous bloviator.

Posted by: fendertweed | June 2, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

he is a cartoon character....

Posted by: Geopolitics101 | June 2, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

My primary criticism of Steven's review is that he seems to have forgotten how Newt climbed the ladder in Congress. He started out as a fire-breathing, incendiary back-bencher and got all the knuckle-draggers in the GOP to follow him. Thus, when the Contract On America and Clinton's fumbling of health reform helped the GOP to take control of the House, he was well-positioned to become Speaker. His use of inflammatory rhetoric is hardly new.

Posted by: luridone | June 2, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Steve, you did not even read the book... Just like a democrat, you never let the facts get in the way of a political smear job...

Posted by: 2010Rout | June 2, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

But the repetition signifies something worse for Newt and the party he once led: a slumping toward simplicity. No matter the inanity of the language, if you say it enough – to the point of a thumping in the head – people will eventually believe it, or so the hope goes.

A "slumping towards simplicity" is exactly correct. This is one of the reasons why I will never support the Republicans; they treat people like complete idiots, case in point, the constant repetition. The sad thing is that I think this thing works on stupid people; they lack the ability to think criticially about what they're told so if they hear something often enough, they're assume its true without every bothering to think for themselves why this is the case.

The Republicans target the stupid far more actively than the Democrats. This is why Gingrich wrote this book; he's appealing to low-brow, uneducated Republicans who aren't interested in policy debates or reasoned arguments - only super heated rhetoric.

He's trying to speak their language and in the process, he's completely embarrassing himself. The fact of the matter is Newt is too much of an elite to ever win the nomination and the irony is that he has himself to blame for this by contributing to this modern day know-nothingism.

Posted by: cjpotter19 | June 2, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Steve, you did not even read the book... Just like a democrat, you never let the facts get in the way of a political smear job...

Posted by: 2010Rout | June 2, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the author of this article is a secular socialist who is a part of the secular socialist Left and the secular socialist machine! Did I mention he's a secular socialist?

I don't think there were any ideas in the book, from the sounds of it stale rhetoric; "take our country back", "stop big government from shoving [blank] down our throats", blah, blah. Nothing that hasn't been said a million times already.

Posted by: cjpotter19 | June 2, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

cj, citing the table of contents as a source for a book review is not too intelligent.. In fact, calling people "simpletons" because of a political view when you have not even taken the time to read/understand the argument is at a minimum ignorant.

Keep focus on the issue..

Posted by: 2010Rout | June 2, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Newtie,Newtie save us from ourselves. Most of us have lot our way. Pray for us and pray that real Americans like yourself will pull us back from the socialist abyss.

Posted by: chalkranger | June 2, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

It's got to be particularly galling to all the Dems that the book is a bestseller and will definitely resonate come election time. Gotta love it.

Posted by: dknight12345 | June 2, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

The lamestream media's double standards do get tiresome. Assume for argument's sake that Gingrich's book is indeed just a simplistic polemic. In precisely what way does that differ from any randomly selected screed by, say, Krugman, the Nobel laureate? Not at all, except for the reader's bias.

Prefer if you will a different label for our idiot messiah Oboobma's extremist ideology, but the danger is real and Gingrich speaks the uncomfortable truth.

Posted by: thebump | June 2, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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