By Bob Cesca: You can tell it's August in a general election year because Republican A-listers are jumping through Flaming Hoops of Crazy in order to be considered for the job of wingnut red meat chucker for the next four years.
Take Newt Gingrich for example. Since he dropped out of the race, the level of race baiting and far-right zealotry has eased back a few notches.
Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, BLAM! Newt and his bulbous marshmallow-shaped head re-emerged from hiding and blanketed the news -- firing his cartoony supersoaker filled with piss and vinegar at everything brown and liberal.
It began when Gingrich endorsed the Romney campaign's lie about the president and welfare reform. Not only did he repeat the lie, but he did it with classic Gingrich race-baiting and hyperbole -- making it literally about his grandchildren.
He said, “I think on the hard left, there is an unending desire to create a dependent America,” and continued by calling it a "radical" conspiracy. “It’s not just that Obama is a radical, it’s that the people he appoints are more radical." Then he triangulated his attack by comparing the president to Bill Clinton, who signed welfare reform into law in 1996, “In many ways Obama is the anti-Clinton. Clinton tried to move the party to the center, Obama’s moved it to the left.”
That's not what Gingrich said at the time -- you know, when he was helping to impeach President Clinton. “I hope every American when they watch Bill Clinton speak will realize how much weaker and less effective Obama is than the man who is nominating him.”
And then he referred to President Obama as "a direct threat to my two grandchildren’s future."
It's all about the children, isn't it. President Obama hates Gingrich's grandchildren personally and he's plotting to destroy their futures with his radical agenda that involves allowing them to have free health insurance until age 26, etc, etc.
Nevertheless, whenever the issue of welfare comes up, you can bet on Gingrich jumping onto the pile faster than he jumps onto new wives. Everyone's aware of his long history of race-baiting, and anything that's even remotely welfare-related is a juicy springboard for his Southern Strategy politics. I mean, he won the South Carolina primary in large part due to this "welfare queens" tactic.
Gingrich appeared on CNN yesterday and went full Joe McCarthy. In fact, he literally defended McCarthyism and said that it helped to root out communists that had infiltrated Hollywood and the government, even though it swept up completely innocent Americans whose lives were ruined by a certifiably paranoid alcoholic Republican senator who resigned in disgrace after orchestrating one of the darkest episodes in American politics. But okay. Gingrich thinks it was awesome.
He continued by saying that a similar approach, which happens to be spearheaded by wackaloon Michele Bachmann, is absolutely necessary. He told Wolf Blitzer that there might be a connection between Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and a pro-Muslim Brotherhood posture by the State Department, "This State Department has been amazingly pro-Muslim Brotherhood. American citizens have the right to have the Congress ask the question."
Have you left no sense of decency, sir?
So there we have it. Race-baiting, anti-Muslim fearmongering and McCarthyism -- your Modern Republican Party from 1950-present.
And why has Newt suddenly resurfaced to talk about this stuff? Obviously because he's lobbying to be Mitt Romney's vice presidential nominee. He's positioning himself as a Palin-style bomb hurler by way of a Cheney-style old school supervillain pulling the strings for a jittery neophyte stuffed-shirt nominee. As far as I'm concerned, Gingrich is the frontrunner for the post. Other than his dubious personal life, he's just about the correct balance for Romney who might have trouble in ultra-right-wing southern evangelical precincts. A shameless ideologue who loves red meat more than Tiffany's charge accounts would certainly help on that front, while adding some inside-Washington heft to the ticket.
Of course the danger here is self-evident: the possibility of Vice President Newt Gingrich calling the shots behind the curtain.