Newt Gingrich tried on Wednesday to brush off the glaring gaffe he made this week on "The Daily Show" when he insisted that the Bush administration was right to read shoe bomber Richard Reid his Miranda rights because he was an American citizen.
But in doing so, the former GOP House Speaker only dug his hole deeper.
In a post on his Twitter page, Gingrich explained that when he made the Reid comment to the "Daily Show"'s Jon Stewart his reference was actually to Jose Padilla. Reid, after all, is a British citizen -- Padilla is American.
But Gingrich wasn't done there. In a dig at the Obama White House, he added to the tail end of his tweet: "Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres."
That's a standard GOP talking point, and yet when President Bush moved the Padilla case from a military setting to the criminal system, it was Gingrich who came to his defense despite conservative howls of protest, a Democratic source points out.
Appearing on Fox News in November 2005, the former speaker said the following when asked whether it was "a loss" for the Bush White House to have tried Padilla in civilian courts after holding him for three-and-a-half years as an enemy combatant:
"Well, I think if they believe they have enough evidence to convict him, going through the process of convicting him and holding him, I suspect, maybe for the rest of his life without parole would not be -- would hardly be seen as a loss," Gingrich said.
The former speaker went on to note that Bush was "wrestling with what are the real ground rules for dealing with people who are clearly outside of normal warfare" -- suggesting, implicitly, that a criminal setting was appropriate for Padilla because it was the most effective at the time. "[W]e don't have a good set of rules," he declared.
But that is a mirror of the Obama administration's current argument -- the one that Gingrich criticized on Twitter.