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Having had a worm's eye view of the rise of Newt Gingrich from Georgia politics to the National stage, his subsequent fall and resurrection, a few thoughts on the true significance of this self styled "world historic figure."

Newt Gingrich has grabbed a piece of the media spotlight again. As noted in a diary posted by Meteor Blades yesterday, Gingrich took advantage of an interview with FOX's Greta Van Susteren to paint a portrait of President Obama that could have been drawn right out of the racist film epic "Birth of a Nation". Clearly the meme of a shiftless, lazy, incompetent illegitimately occupying the White House owes more to historic slanders against the reconstruction governments of the post civil war South than to the reality of President Barack Obama.

No doubt Newt imagines himself quite clever in the coyness with which he deployed a whole catalog of racist stereotypes. Doing so by the simple expedient of omitting any direct reference to color. The cynicism of this ploy is only exceeded by Gingrich's smug confidence in utilizing it. And why shouldn't he be confidant? He's been poisoning the wells of public discourse in this fashion for years without being called on it. Instead he's been rewarded with financial success and lionization as a major public "intellectual." At this rate he might end up as the most influential political failure since John C. Calhoun.      

In some ways Gingrich is a perfect example of the post Jim Crow, racist politician. Certainly no other politician, not even Richard Nixon, has done more to rehabilitate racism as a political force in public life. Gingrich perfected, if he didn't actually invent, the template for the "bleached" racist appeal. Gingrich recognized that even the vilest racial slur wouldn't be recognized as such by the Political and Media elites so long as it was purged of any direct reference to race. In applying this insight, he helped insure that conservatism would supply racists with a congenial political home and access to real power. In a very real sense, Newt is the architect the present day GOP: Narrow, Nativist and racist.

Gingrich was also shrewd enough to realize that his racist schtick could be doubly disguised by paying lip service to the achievements of the Civil Rights movement, even as he worked to undermine them. Newt used to show up every year for the parade that was held in Atlanta to celebrate Dr. martin Luther King's birthday. I think his presence was a contributing factor to splitting the parade and the March held by activist organizations into two separate events. He'd spend one day posturing as an admirer of MLK and rubbing shoulders with black folks while working to undermine their interests and pandering to white racial resentment during the remaining 364 days of the year.

In some ways Gingrich is more despicable than the Bilbos, Talmadges and Tillmans of yester year who are his political ancestors. They, at least, were sincere products of a white supremacist system. Their racism was overt and deeply felt. Consequently, it never occurred to them to disguise the moronic viciousness that motivated them. Yes, they used racism as a political tool but they were true believers.

Gingrich, in contrast, is a complete opportunist. The briefest survey of his career as a politician and a human being would reveal that his only sincere convictions are in his personal superiority and his contempt for the greater mass of humanity. Newt's racism, in contrast to the old school Segs and Klansmen, is impersonal. It isn't motivated by personal animosity or hatred but by a desire for personal advantage that values others only to the degree that they can be used to advance himself.

Far from being the result of a collective identification with "whiteness", Newt's racism is an outgrowth of the borderline sociopathy inherent in his Ubermensch self image.

It's this mental attitude that allows Newt and so many others to posture as being free from "personal" racial bias even as they eagerly exploit and feed the racist impulses at play in the "white" class. Feeling themselves superior to the broad mass of humanity, regardless of color, they feel entitled manipulate and inflame them for their own benefit.

Newt's spiritual, as opposed to political, forebears are not the Jim Crow Seg politicians nor even the Slave driving Planter. Rather, he is the moral and ethical offspring of the Slave Trader.

Originally posted to WB Reeves on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 04:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges and Kos Georgia.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well said. Great diary. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, mookins
  •  Newt the Narcissist. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, WB Reeves

    Look up narcissistic personality disorder: Newt fits it to a T.

    That list of signs & symptoms is the key to the kingdom with him, and predicting his behavior.

    Even the serial adultery, which in and of itself should be used relentlessly to crash his credibility at every turn.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 05:26:36 AM PDT

  •  I think you actually give him too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, WB Reeves

    much credit. If he is so shrewd, why does he always end up blowing himself up by saying something stupid? During the GOP primary, while he had followers, he also was the most hated candidate by supporters of the other candidates (while at the same time hated by Democrats, of course). I don't think he's the architect and visionary of the modern GOP, I think he's a clown whose rag-tag group of followers are basically the clown wing of the GOP.

    •  I never characterized him as a visionary (0+ / 0-)

      and while I sympathize with your view, the fact is that Newt was the Chief strategist and leader of the GOP's 1994 legislative takeover. He didn't become Speaker of the House by accident. Yes he crashed and burned after the fiasco of the Government shut down during the budget fight but that doesn't erased the enduring political significance of his previous achievement. That he had continuing appeal among the GOP base is attested to by his success in the NC primary despite running an essentially unserious campaign.

      While I share your contempt for him as an individual, I don't think it wise to underestimate his continued presence on the political scene. Particularly since he is still being given a pass on his racism.  

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 11:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As far as owning a Plantation with Slaves (0+ / 0-)

    I always thought that was the Ultimate Dream of Mitch McConnell.

    He looks and talks like a Slave Owner.

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