I didn’t actually think it was possible for me to develop any less respect for disgraced former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But then this week he counseled his fellow Republican’ts to follow his disastrous lead and shut down the federal government again “if the alternative is compromising on their budget-cutting promises.”
Did Gingrich learn nothing from his 1990s failures?
Apparently not, because he’s also urging the GOP to race right off another cliff by impeaching President Barack Obama over the administration’s conscientious decision to cease defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, because it’s clearly unconstitutional. Keep in mind, the president did not instruct the Justice Department to stop enforcing that repugnant 1996 law, which defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman”; he and Attorney General Eric Holder have made it quite clear to everybody that DOMA will “continue to be enforced by the Executive Branch.” They’ve left it up to Congress to actually overturn that law. All the administration said this week is that it will no longer submit briefs supporting DOMA against repeal efforts in the courts.
Nonetheless, Gingrich and other right-wing fire-breathers--convinced that their conservative base either isn’t intelligent enough to notice such logical nuances or won’t give a tinker’s damn about them--are now hinting (if not yet outright saying) that Obama should be removed from office, contending that he’s failing to obey his oath to support the laws of the land. This is patently ridiculous, but Newt has never been known to adhere to reason. He’s testing the waters for a 2012 presidential run, and has seen that the kookier and more intolerant a Republican’t is this year (case in point: Minnesota ex-governor Tim Pawlenty), the more publicity he’s likely to generate.
What Gingrich fails to acknowledge, of course, is that the president’s decision to cease defending DOMA is nothing new. As Think Progress points out, “In 1990, then-acting Solicitor General [and now Chief Justice John] Roberts refused to defend a federal affirmative-action law after he successfully convinced the George H.W. Bush administration that the law was unconstitutional. He failed to convince the Supreme Court, however, and the law was upheld. By declining to defend DOMA, the Obama administration is following the exact same approach embraced by Roberts.”
Considering Gingrich’s own abysmal support of marriage as an institution, his campaign to protect DOMA is more than a tad ironic. Whether it will convince his fellow Republican’ts to jump off the same cliff he and the GOP did back in 1996, when they tried to impeach then President Bill Clinton, is a mystery at this point. Republican’ts are anxious to turn the United States backwards and undo all social, economic, and political progress made during the last century. Are they also anxious to relive the 1990s by launching another coup against a moderate Democratic president, with the likelihood that they will lose public support the same way Gingrich and his right-wing troops did 15 years ago?
Time (and, no doubt, polls) will tell.
READ MORE: “With One Week to Go Before the Shutdown Deadline,” by Steve Benen (The Washington Monthly).