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Michael Conniff Headshot

Con Games: Newt's Heart of Darkness

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Whenever someone on either side is ready to hammer Newt Gingrich like an uncooked veal cutlet they first make some reference to how smart he is. After all, the former Speaker of the House is a man who writes history books and novels, a former history professor who by God knows real stuff about actual things.

Of course, the disclaimer about brain power is inevitably followed by the latest lame, lamebrain idea emanating from the Newt pie-hole. Taking his view from conservative intellectual Dinesh D'Souza, Gingrich has lately glommed onto the absurdist notion that President Barack Obama is merely playing out the "Kenyan" "anti-colonialism" of his African father. Gingrich is saying nothing less than that Barack Obama has a heart of darkness.

None of this makes any sense until you realize that Newt Gingrich has become nothing more than a Sarah Palin who actually studied in college. Like Tony LaRussa, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals--widely considered a bit of a genius before a single game because of his amazing law degree--Gingrich is in the awkward position of proving that he can be as brainless as any less educated man, woman, or man-child.

The former Speaker's spinorama within the realm of the loonies comes for a simple and non-academic reason: he is running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency. But his braggadocios embrace of all things Tea has led him to promulgate a series of whoppers. His newbie be-very-afraid anti-Islamic video is aimed at anyone with a brain stem, as were his comment about the ground zero center, that "Nazis don't have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington." He has also called Obama a "con man" who is "authentically dishonest."

Whatever happened to the old Newt, the man who would sit side by side with Al Sharpton? What about the nifty idea of "green entrepreneurship" for the Right, an idea that stunk like a stale anchovy because a green Conservative is a political oxymoron?

That guy is a goner, replaced by a putative President who can't be Right enough en route to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. At worst Mr. be-Speaker might be hoping for some kind of contract with the poobahs that be for the Vice-Presidential nomination. At best Newt Gingrich is back again at play in the flea market of ideas, where the facts are damned from the start.