In broad-ranging comments in Colorado yesterday, perennial jackass and “defender of civilization” Newt Gingrich yesterday drew an historical analogy between the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1980 and the current tension in U.S. / Egyptian relations over the no-travel order placed by Egyptian authorities on nineteen Americans associated with NGOs indicted on charges of "accepting funds and benefits from an international organisation" to pursue an activity "prohibited by law."
Partial comments transcribed from CBS video:
Let me point out, apparently the Egyptian government has announced this morning that they're going to try the Americans who are hostages, and it just made me think, you know, this reminds me exactly of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostages, you now have the Obama hostage crisis to resemble the Carter hostage crisis.
For background on these nineteen Americans, the Egyptian raids of foreign NGOs on 29 December 2011, the criminal charges and the heightened tension in U.S. / Egypt relations, with military aid to Egypt hanging in the balance, please see my diary from yesterday, "The days of blank checks [to the Egyptian military] are over." See also the useful summary (and sidebar links) from today's Al-Ahram, Targeting of NGOs puts Egypt-US relations to test.
Now, "historian" and purveyor of "grandiose ideas" Newt Gingrich seems determined here to force his righteous claim on the corpse of Ronald Reagan by positing the following pair of analogies:
EGYPT : OBAMA : : IRAN : CARTER
OBAMA : CARTER : : GINGRICH : REAGAN
“Force” is, I think, the operative word. For those who are actually following the political fallout from Egypt's raid of the NGOs, and for those with passing knowledge of the Iranian hostage crisis, such an analogy is... well... a streeeeeeeeeetch. There is no doubt in my mind that the manner in which both the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and Ministry of Justice have handled this situation, particularly given the high-profile status of one of the detained Americans (Sam LaHood), has been a mess and will likely result in some negative repercussions on U.S. / Egyptian relations. Yet Newt's sloppy historical analogy is simple FAIL.
I really can't add anything to that, except to suggest that we examine Gingrich's comments within the fuller context of his remarks yesterday in Colorado (transcript of the CNN video):
Let me point out, apparently the Egyptian government has announced this morning that they're going to try the Americans who are hostages, and it just made me think, you know, this reminds me exactly of Jimmy Carter and the Iranian hostages. You now have the Obama hostage crisis to resemble the Carter hostage crisis.Where to begin? Seriously, how does one sift through this pile of utter shit? Well, let's reduce Newt's paraphrastics—his “word-pictures”—to a few more analogies:
And your point (gesturing to a member of the crowd) about take back the $1.3B, look, I'd do a lot more than that.
Let me paint a brief word-picture, and I want to bring it back to Reagan in a second and you'll see what I'm trying to do here. The Pakistanis I think over the weekend arrested the medical doctor who helped us find Bin Laden. You know, they didn't give him a national award for helping track down the world's most famous terrorist, they didn't hold him up in honor because he helped our American allies find Bin Laden. They arrested him. Now I want you to think about this. What does that sort of tell you? You have the Egyptian government, the latest product of Obama's belief in an Arab Spring—and by the way the largest voting bloc in the new Egyptian government is the Muslim Brotherhood; the second largest group is more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood, so the Muslim Brotherhood are now the moderates, and I guarantee at the State Department that's what the briefing says—and this is like the 1930s, I mean this is a mindless capitulation to forces that are contrary to our entire civilization.
So you have Coptic Christian churches being burned in Egypt, you have the population of Iraq dropped from 1,200,000 Christians to 500,000 since the Americans arrived, you have churches being burned in Nigeria, you have the State Department meeting with the Organization of Islamic Countries to discuss anti-Muslim language. The idea that our State Department is talking with the Organization of Islamic Countries about censoring us is about all you need to know about the total failure of the Obama administration.
Now, we were here before, 1979 to 1980. We had 13% inflation, 22% interest-rates, the economy collapsing toward 10.6% unemployment, we had the Iranian hostage crisis, we had the Russians on offense in Afghanistan, Mozambique, Angola, Grenada, Nicarague, El Salvador. And Ronald Reagan came along... and let's talk about real change, as opposed to sort of moderates. You know, we nominated a moderate in 1976 and he lost, we nominated a moderate in 1996 and he losts, we nominated a moderate in 2008 and he lost. The elite media would love to talk us into nominating another moderate. You want to understand the elite media bias? Just remember, their number-one interest is to re-elect Barack Obama, and they believe by getting a moderate to become the Republican nominee they guarantee the re-election of Barack Obama.
AMERICA / THE WEST : CIVILIZATION : : ISLAM : BARBARISM
THE SOVIETS : COLD WAR : : MUSLIMS : CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS
OBAMA : ISLAM : : CHAMBERLAIN : HITLER
REAGAN : GOD : : OBAMA : THE ANTICHRIST
We've heard it all from Newt before, as we've heard it from the Right more generally over the past four (ten?) years. Simple thoughts by, and for, simple minds; red-meat and dog-whistles; baiting and "fuck, yeah!" American exceptionalism.
This kind of rhetoric so infuriates me that I'm at a loss to provide much cogent analysis. I'm just tired of it, exhausted by the enduring stupidity...
As a form of conclusion, then, I'll simply ask you to take out a #2 pencil and complete the following analogy:
GINGRICH : HISTORIAN : : ____ : ____