Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Last night on Countdown, in response to Newt Gingrich's assertion that America is being made less safe by Barack Obama's foreign policy -- specifically Obama's call for nuclear weapons limitation talks, which coincided with a North Korean missile test -- Lawrence O'Donnell said something quite misleading:

O'DONNELL: Well, we don't have similar clips to show from 2006, in October, the last time North Korea launched one of these things, under President Bush's watch. There are no similar clips of Newt Gingrich talking about how ineffective President Bush was in trying to control North Korea.

Well, maybe not at the time of the October test -- but after a test in July 2006, which coincided with war in Lebanon and other international incidents, Gingrich went on Meet the Press and started ranting and raving about World War III:

MR. NEWT GINGRICH: ... I mean, this is absolutely a question of the survival of Israel, but it's also a question of what is really a world war. Look what you've been covering: North Korea firing missiles. We say there'll be consequences, there are none. The North Koreans fire seven missiles on our Fourth of July; bombs going off in Mumbai, India; a war in Afghanistan with sanctuaries in Pakistan. As I said a minute ago, the, the Iran/Syria/Hamas/Hezbollah alliance. A war in Iraq funded largely from Saudi Arabia and supplied largely from Syria and Iran. The British home secretary saying that there are 20 terrorist groups with 1200 terrorists in Britain. Seven people in Miami videotaped pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda, and 18 people in Canada being picked up with twice the explosives that were used in Oklahoma City, with an explicit threat to bomb the Canadian parliament, and saying they'd like to behead the Canadian prime minister. And finally, in New York City, reports that in three different countries people were plotting to destroy the tunnels of New York.

I mean, we, we are in the early stages of what I would describe as the third world war, and frankly, our bureaucracies aren't responding fast enough, we don't have the right attitude about this....

MR. RUSSERT: This is World War III?

MR. GINGRICH: I, I believe if you take all the countries I just listed, that you've been covering, put them on a map, look at all the different connectivity, you'd have to say to yourself this is, in fact, World War III.

I haven't seen a clip, but you just know he was digging this notion. Apocalypse! Now! And I'm the guy with the vision to see it! The eleven-year-old boy Newt Gingrich has always been was describing the world as a particularly satisfying adventure story in which he could be the hero. What bliss!

It's true -- he wouldn't blame George W. Bush by name:

MR. RUSSERT: You're talking about the Bush administration.

MR. GINGRICH: I'm talking about the policies of the United States today.

MR. RUSSERT: But that is such a condemnation of George W. Bush.

MR. GINGRICH: Well, it's not a condemnation of George W. Bush. It's a statement that -- look what we've done in the last six weeks. I mean, I think we are in a very serious crisis in this country.

But he was certainly disappointed that we weren't going to war against North Korea:

MR. RUSSERT: But with the war in Iraq going on the way it is, can we risk taking military action against North Korea, against Iran?

MR. GINGRICH: You know, before the show, we were talking about Seattle and the extraordinary port facility there. Can we risk losing San Francisco or Seattle?

So, yes, Gingrich is being a partisan attack dog now to some extent, but he's also a guy who just wants everything to be beyond the point at which diplomats and rational people can manage it, because he wants to be living in a role-playing game or apocalyptic tale. We must never, ever let this guy back into the government.

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