Catch of the Day? To Conor Friedersdorf, who has a very nice takedown of Newt Gingrich, including a quick, simple, and brutal look at Newt's immigration nonsense:
Gingrich was describing the immigration reform policy he prefers. It would include a guest worker program. "That would be implemented by American Express or Visa or Mastercard, in terms of the cards," he said, "so you wouldn't have fraud as you would in the federal government."Yeah.
See the fusion?
The populist in Newt invokes the anti-government, pro-business attitude one often finds on the right, where prejudices are such that it makes sense to presume a government issued guest worker card would be plagued by fraud, whereas if the system were privatized, it would run smoothly. In the same suggestion, however, we see the technocrat's folly, for it doesn't take much reflection to recognize that a) there is in fact a fair amount of credit card fraud in America; b) there is no reason to think the particular sorts of fraud that plague guest worker programs are the sorts that credit card companies would be good at rooting out; c) does he really think the issuance and security of the cards is the hardest part of implementing a guest worker program?
Here's my problem. I do a CotD probably about three times a week, whenever I see something that works well for it. But now that Newt is in the news constantly, and, you know, talking, I could easily do one every day of the week and twice on Sundays just on calling Newt out. I mean, seriously: my last couple of links dumps were lousy with Newt takedowns, and I have a bunch of them in currently open tabs (I like Andrew Sullivan's Newt-bashing especially, although Drum and Friedersdorf are quite good, too). And I don't save 'em all, even the good ones. Not even close.
On the one hand, I'm tempted to just declare a Newt CotD moratorium for a while. On the other hand, well, he is running for president, and a lot of people think he has a good chance to win, even if I don't...I get the sense, too, that a lot of his current image is "smart guy who has a terrible marital record and campaign discipline issues," which is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many, many, many reasons that Republicans would be nuts to nominate him for president. Part of which is that he's been out of office for so long that I suspect a lot of people, including many active Republicans, really don't know; after all, if you're 35 today, you were college age when Newt was Speaker.
I mean, to me conservatives rallying to Newt would be about equivalent to liberals pushing Jimmy Carter for president in recent cycles: a lot of liberals have warm feelings for Carter because no one really bothers to scrutinize washed-up politicians, so those who don't remember the 1970s might not even know that Carter was neither capable of handling the job nor particularly liberal. I mean, I understand why conservatives might be stumped about who to support in the current GOP field -- while all but Ron Paul and Gary Johnson basically are on board with their issues, none of them combine basic-level competence with a long and reliable history of loyalty to the party and its core issues. And it's easy to imagine that any bashing you hear about one of the candidates is just liberal bias from somewhere. But really, Newt Gingrich?
So I guess on balance I do think it's a worthwhile thing to do to throw more light on the disgraced former Speaker and the many reasons he'd be a lousy president and a lousy GOP nominee. Which I expect to generate a never-ending stream of excellent CotD possibilities. But I'll try to duck the more obvious ones.
Meanwhile: great catch!
(And it just doesn't stop. You really need to click on this one).