This Guy wants to be President?
Check out Newt's interview on Monday's On The Record, with FOX News's Greta Van Susteren and the kind of wild rhetoric Congress buys into when they go along with Republicans in voting to take it to Iran.
After some initial discussion and footage of Ahmadinejad, it doesn't take long for Gingrich to begin blaming the Clinton administration for the current state of affairs in Iran:
GINGRICH: Well, and then Louis Freeh, when he was the director of the FBI, said the Clinton administration actively, consciously didn't want to learn that the Iranians had killed Americans at Khobar Towers because they didn't want to have to confront the fact that what do you do about it.
Freeh has indeed has been critical of the Clinton administration notably in WSJ op-ed piece on June 25, 2006. But Gingrich leaves out that Freeh also cites the Reagan administration for blame and that "the Khobar bombing is just one example of how successive U.S. governments have mishandled Iran."
Here's the part from Freeh's WSJ piece that Newt doesn't bring up:
Sadly, this fits into a larger pattern of U.S. governments sending the wrong message to Tehran. Almost 13 years before Iran committed its terrorist act of war against America at Khobar, it used its surrogates, the Lebanese Hezbollah, to murder 241 Marines in their Beirut barracks. The U.S. response to that 1983 outrage was to pull our military forces out of the region. Such timidity was not lost upon Tehran.
Tellingly, Gingrich makes no mention of this. It's much easier to vacillate back and forth between hero worship of Ronald Reagan and denigrating Democrats as soft, which he continues to do in this interview.
Here he asserts that the U.S. should be covertly undermining the Iranian government and lauds Reagan as an example worthy of emulation:
VAN SUSTEREN: That actually seems rather simple and easy to do. We're not doing that?
GINGRICH: No, we're not.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why aren't we?
GINGRICH: Well, in 1981, Reagan said the Soviet Union was an "evil empire." One of the things we did, we now know because it's been in memoirs and it's public source, is we built faulty natural gas pipeline pumps and got them sold on the black market to the Soviets, who thought they were buying this terrific new American technology. And in early 1982, there was an explosion in Siberia that was so big that it registered on the satellites as thought it was a nuclear event. And one half of the White House was really worried, until the other half of the White House said, No, no, that's our equipment.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why...
GINGRICH: I'm just saying, once upon a time, we have had occasion when we were very clever and we got a lot done.
Gingrich can't seem to decide which he likes better - building up Reagan or tearing down Democrats. This is the kind of behavior that Democrats on the hill are buying into when they vote with Republicans against Iran.
When Van Susteren asks why the U.S. isn't "doing things like that," now, Gingrich again takes the opportunity to blame the Clinton administration and build up his hero Ronald Reagan:
GINGRICH: I think we are currently so timid and our bureaucracies are so risk-avoiding — it took enormous leadership by President Reagan and by Bill Casey to reenergize the CIA in the early '80s. And we've now been through a long period of beating up the intelligence community and having lawyers say, You can't do this, you can't do that. Mike Scheuer, who was in charge of hunting for bin Laden, says that we found bin Laden 10 times in the late '90s, and every single time, either the lawyers said, You can't do anything, or the senior leadership said, It's too big a risk
Citing Scheuer is an especially interesting bit of cherry-picking on Gingrich's part. First, even Scheuer's own account admits that there are 2 sides to the story:
In spring 1998, I briefed Mr. Clarke and senior CIA, Department of Defense and FBI officers on a plan to kidnap bin Laden. Mr. Clarke's reaction was that "it was just a thinly disguised attempt to assassinate bin Laden." I replied that if he wanted bin Laden dead, we could do the job quickly. Mr. Clarke's response was that the president did not want bin Laden assassinated, and that we had no authority to do so."
But the real audacity in citing Scheuer in an interview about "the threat" from Iran, is that Scheur doesn't think the Iranians are a threat:
The Iranians are no threat to the United States unless we provoke them. They may be a threat to the Israelis. They‘re not a threat to the United States.
The threat to the United States, inside the United States, comes from al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you want to address the threat to America, that‘s where it is.
In response to Van Susteren's query of whether the U.S. knows where Bin Laden is, Gingrich quickly answers no, But he claims the U.S. is "actively looking" him:
VAN SUSTEREN: And are we actively looking for him?
GINGRICH: I think we're actively looking for him, but it'll raise a very interesting question. Will the lawyers let us still get him?
Gingrich doesn't say just how we are searching for Bin Laden, but the CIA admitted last year, that the unit tasked with searching for him has been shut down.
This is what Republicans will be running on: denigrating the Clinton administration, claiming Democrats are weak and daring them not to vote yes when the sound they drums of war.
The question is, are Democrats going to fall for this, again?
I hope not. But I'm very discouraged after this weeks vote on Iran.
(Watch it or read it, here.)