Gingrich on the radical Islamist wing of secular atheism
Perhaps no other news lede better demonstrates how bloated modern presidential elections have become -- and how Newt Gingrich will say anything to fatten his base with those questioning whether Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) is too sane for their tastes -- than the opening sentence to this piece on CNN.com:
Hours after declaring Sunday that he expects to be running for president within a month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be "a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists," in the foreseeable future, according to Politico.
Both clauses are disconcerting, but for different reasons. The first -- a declaration that Gingrich expects to declare something else within a month -- reflects the frenzy of today's "forever campaigns." Preparing to establish an exploratory committee whose task is to lay the groundwork for a decision to announce that an announcement will be made shortly -- while drawing a salary from Fox News -- has become a full-time distraction for GOP presidential wannabes.
The second half of the sentence really gets my goat. The implication, even unintentional, that radical Muslims and secular atheists share a common enemy in America's social order is so stupid that it fails to offend. But not to Gingrich's "tea party" audience. Plus, he managed to insert the polar-opposite bogeyman into a sentence about destroying America -- a triple whammy for his base in so few words. Give him credit for political efficiency, tea party style.
-- Paul Thornton
Photo: Newt Gingrich walks on stage before speaking at the Conservative Political Action conference Feb. 10 in Washington. Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images