I’m sure there’s been plenty of conservative commentators struggling with the Obama administration’s decision to participate in the U.N. no-fly zone over Libya. However, it requires a certain moral flexibility to enthusiastically declare support for such an action, only to do a complete 180 on national television weeks later, just days after the no-fly zone was established. Of course, when it comes to moral flexibility, former Speaker of the House and potential Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is second to none.
Watch (more after the jump):
Thanks to Talking Points Memo or combining the clips.
In case you were concerned that their edit cut out Matt Lauer’s follow up question, forcing Gingrich to explain his stunning reversal, you needn’t worry. Nothing like that occurred. And as Kevin Drum explains, we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for Gingrich’s supporters to question him either. Drum looks at it from the perspective of the flip-flopper, weighing the potential consequences:
Back in the day, I remember a lot of people saying that it was getting harder for politicians to shade their positions either over time or for different audiences because everything was now on video and the internet made it so easy to catch inconsistencies. But that’s turned out not to really be true. Unless you’re in the middle of a high-profile political campaign, it turns out you just need to be really brazen about your flip-flops. Sure, sites like ThinkProgress or Politifact with catch you, and the first few times that happens maybe you’re a little worried about what’s going to happen. But then it dawns on you: nothing is going to happen. Your base doesn’t read ThinkProgress. The media doesn’t really care and is happy to accept whatever obvious nonsense you offer up in explanation. The morning chat shows will continue to book you. It just doesn’t matter.
And that’s got to be pretty damn liberating. You can literally say anything you want! And no one cares! That’s quite a discovery.
Sad, but true. For a closer look at the differences between Gingrich’s Libya intervention positions, check out David Weigel’s March 23 Slate post. Weigel digs into the transcripts and points out that Gingrich flip-flopped on multiple levels:
Anyone want to try and reconcile these two interviews? It’s not just the flip-flop on intervention — the flip-flip on whether humanitarian needs make the intervention justified or not is breathtaking. Either that’s a standard or it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a public figure or politician changing his or her mind about a particular issue. But in Gingrich’s case the chasm between positions is so wide, it effectively exposes the former Speaker for what he really is: an unelectable, professional Obama critic. Steve Benen put it best:
I don’t doubt Gingrich will remain a media darling, invited onto national television on a daily basis to present arguments unchallenged, but that doesn’t change the fact that no one should take this pseudo-intellectual clown seriously.
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