Newt Gingrich’s Truly Amazing Flip Flop on Libya (UPDATED)
(NOTE: This post is being moved up due to an extensive update).
And they talk about Mitt Romney being a flip flopper? With THIS flip flop (within the space of less than two weeks) Newt Gingrich has supersized it. The sad thing is: people who do such a craven flip flop even this age of Googling and Yahoo tend to get away with it.
UPDATE: This story has taken on some traction getting lots of play on the Internet.
Daily Kos has this devastating video:
How bad is this example of Gingrich being caught in a major change of position in such a short period of time — the quintessential example of how partisan attack has now morphed into partisan attack, even if the attack is on positions held as recently as less than two weeks? It has been such bad p.r. for Gingrich that he has issued THIS convoluted attempt to reconcile both positions on his Facebook page.
Remember how Al Gore, et. al were being blasted for “nuance” in this age of political clarity? If this isn’t nuance I don’t know what it is. Actually I do: its a politician trying doing classic CYA. Gingrich will have a ton of money in the primaries and could do better than many analysts anticipate. But in a general election he’s a wide-open target with little appeal to independent voters. And due to this flip flop it’s not hard to predict that his future assertions will be checked by the media (new and old) to see if he’s repudiating another former stand…which would probably lead to another attempt at ineffective spin that sounds more like SNL than effective politics. And if it’s genuine? Than its an example of assumed nuance.
There is the old saying “assumed” makes and “ass” of “u” and “me” but whether nuance or craven politics it makes Gingrich look like one.
Just look at the reaction in the blogosphere:
–Crooks & Liars’ David Neiwert:
Of course you knew that no matter what President Obama did in regards to Libya, right-wingers were going to slam him for it — damned if he did, damned if he didn’t. But few have been quite as naked in their two-faced hypocrisy as Newt Gingrich
If consistency is the hobgobblin of little minds, then Newt Gingrich must have one ginormous brain. Or he’s just an opportunist. He’s been caught out flip-flopping on whether we should be involved in Libya, in the span of 16 days (I know, it’s “Think” Progress and Weigel, but everyone scores a goal once in a while). And Newt’s explanation, imho, doesn’t hold up.
–The Politico’s Ben Smith’s comment is probably what is going through the mind of some GOP pros such as Karl Rove:
It’s hard to know with Gingrich whether his penchant for this sort of thing is a product of his inexperience with this kind of media spotlight or the lack of discipline that always drew criticism.
This isn’t even a flip-flop, it’s a total reversal — proving again that the most important priority for Gingrich (and the GOP in general) is to oppose absolutely anything and everything the President does, even if they have to trip over their own clown shoes to do it.
This kind of screwed-up thinking is amazingly common on the right wing these days, so Gingrich probably won’t suffer any damage among his supporters. But it’s about as naked as political hypocrisy ever gets.
The funniest part of all this thrashing is that Obama has completely tied the right wing in knots over Libya, just by acting like a President of the United States.
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, was pretty clear on March 7: President Obama should establish a no-fly zone over Libya “this evening,” he said on Fox News. “All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes,” he said.
At the time, Mr. Gingrich’s comments were seen as a critique of Mr. Obama, whose administration was expressing concern about the potential dangers of using American fighters to enforce order in the air over Libya.
But Mr. Gingrich, a likely presidential candidate has changed his tune. Now that Mr. Obama has joined with other nations to impose a no-fly zone, Mr. Gingrich is attacking him for it. He said the United States is already involved in two wars and that the standard Mr. Obama used to justify military action could have been applied all over the world.
Update: A closer look at both transcripts makes it irrefutably clear: this is a dramatic “flip-flop,” not only on intervention, but also on the justifications for intervention. Gingrich isn’t even trying to be a little consistent.
In other words, when Greta asked him, “What would you do?”, Newt supposedly thought she meant, “How would you advise the president now that he’s committed to regime change?” But … Greta didn’t ask him that. And if she had, he could have given her the same answer he gave Matt Lauer this morning — that military intervention is a bad idea, that there are diplomatic and economic ways to pressure Qaddafi, etc, but now that Obama’s put U.S. prestige on the line, we have no choice but to put some birds in the air. He didn’t say that. How come?
In response to his explanation this afternoon, Think Progress dug around and found a clip of him on Fox back in February sounding gung ho for stronger condemnation of Qaddafi by Obama. Watch below. He doesn’t say anything about military intervention, but Newt hasn’t been shy in the past about condoning international military action to prevent mass slaughter by rogue regimes of their own people. Exit question: Is this anti-Obama pandering or just a big misunderstanding?
It’s tough being Newt Gingrich. Everyone expecting him to be so consistent all the time.
I mean, sure, he’s been divorced twice, married three times, and cheated on at least one of those wives (we hear more), but why should that disqualify him from being the family values guy on the GOP ticket in 2012? What does Newt’s past have to do with his present?
Newt Gingrich’s policy on Libya, some are contesting, is as consistent as President Obama’s: whatever Obama does, he is wrong.
On March 7, the former Speaker of the House and likely 2012 presidential candidate told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that his response to Libya would be swift and unilateral. “Exercise a no-fly zone this evening,” he said.
“I mean, the idea that we’re confused about a man who has been an anti-American dictator since 1969 just tells you how inept this administration is,” he continued. “They were very quick to jump on Mubarak, who was their ally for 30 years, and they were confused about getting rid of Gaddafi. This is a moment to get rid of him. Do it. Get it over with.”
Now that Obama has taken that step and established a no-fly zone in conjunction with UN allies, Gingrich has changed tacks.
The bulk of Daily Caller’s comments on this post are also telling about how Gingrich is truly impressing voters:
Obama has got to go in 2012. Newt should go right now.
…Face it – Gingrich represents the worst in politicians – everything that comes out of his mouth is a pure 100% political calculation. He turns people against conservatism.
…..Gingrich is way over exposed — Fox is foolish to put him on – the TV goes click when he appears.
….Newt has the disease that Biden and so many politicians have. For some unexplained reason they see a situation and even though they don’t have the facts they will utter something that they didn’t think through and now they have to retract it or change their statement. I really don’t care what Newt has to say. He and his Stepford wife can pack up their tent and give up their fantasy of running for the presidency. He needs to go back a do what he does best, write novels about history. He takes actual history and ads a bunch of nonfiction events and characters and tries to make it interesting. He’s delusional.
…“Same old Newt. Please go away and leave us alone. Have an affair or something.”