SUPPORTING SMALL GOVERNMENT, WITH MULTIPLE EXCEPTIONS
Over at Balloon Juice, Tim F., citing Paul Gottfried's article "Gingrich the Statist" at The American Conservative, predicts that Newt's time at the top of the GOP heap is numbered in days:
Some of you may wonder why I still think that Gingrich will crater before the last day of Kwanzaa. Paul Gottfried suggests that maybe Republicans will remember that (just like Goldwater!) Newt proposes to solve every problem in existence by throwing the federal government at it. Gottfried left out the great moment when Newt proposed that we federalize lower Manhattan to stop a community group from building a mosque (the velvet painting of Reagan in Peggy Noonan’s basement shrine cried real tears over that one)....
The latter is a reference to this:
In a radio interview today, [Gingrich] said he wants the national government to step in and stop the developers from building the Islamic community center by whatever means necessary.
“I think the Congress has the ability to declare the area a national battlefield memorial because I think we should think of the World Trade Center as a battlefield site; this is a war,” he said, apparently thinking that if Ground Zero was a national park, Park51 would be restricted from building near it.
I've really got to disagree with Tim F. -- the rank-and-file right didn't have any problem with that. The rank-and-file certainly didn't see that as an objectionable call for "big government" or "statism." This is one of the many exceptions to the right's supposedly principled belief in small government -- libertarians and Paulbots may be more consistent on this subject, but (I'm going to be rather blunt here) ordinary right-wingers see the area around Ground Zero the way they see a woman's uterus: as sacred space where evil liberals want to do nasty things, a state of affairs that grants them, as good Christian patriots, the right of eminent domain (or dominion, or whatever you'd prefer to call it).
Another way to look at this is that they see Lower Manhattan the way Reagan saw Nicaragua: self-determination is an inalienable right until people do something decent Americans don't like, then those decent Americans get to overrule what the troublemakers are doing, by force if necessary.
Gingrich may fall from his perch, but if the most outrageous thing he ever said was that New Yorkers didn't have the right to their own land use decisions, even Karl Rove would hesitate to oppose him.