Sunday, December 18, 2011

Selling madness by the bottle

Among the sentient, the reasons to keep Newt Gingrich out of the White House are legion. But the GOP candidate's response to a question by CBS News host Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation" this morning should probably top the list:
SCHIEFFER: "One of the things you say is that if you don't like what a court has done, that Congress should subpoena the judge and bring him before Congress and hold a congressional hearing ... how would you enforce that? Would you send the Capitol Police down to arrest him?"

GINGRICH: "Sure. If you had to. Or you'd instruct the Justice Department to send a U.S. Marshal."
Yowzer. Dumbfounded (like me), the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen wrote:
"Just so we're clear, this week, a leading presidential candidate articulated his belief that, if elected, he might (1) eliminate courts he doesn't like; (2) ignore court rulings he doesn't like; and (3) take judges into custody if he disapproves of their legal analyses. I hope it's unnecessary to note that Gingrich's vision is stark raving mad."
Yet, one wonders given Newt's rise in the polls. Granted, Aristotle was right when he said, "There was never a genius without a tincture of madness." The trouble with Newt is that, like the proprietors of Jonathan Swift's proverbial tavern, he sells madness by the bottle. Yet Gingrich's grandiloquence illuminates a larger, more consequential point that John Updike articulated so well: "A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world."

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