Recently, Newt Gingrich dipped his toes into Birther waters by suggesting that it is really President Obama’s fault if people think he was born in Kenya or is secretly a Muslim. Gingrich claimed that while he does not believe such things many other people do, and the reason they do is because Obama has failed to quell their fears.
This is typical Gingrich: playing to the right-wing base by validating extremist claims while simultaneously positioning himself as a reasonable commentator who doesn’t necessarily believe such things.
But Alan Keyes is sick of it and absolutely lays into Gingrich and, in doing so, provides a good explanation of the game that Gingrich plays (albeit from a very, very right-wing perspective):
Gingrich’s remarks are an apt illustration of the main reason why it’s so difficult to have confidence in Republican leaders like him. It’s too obvious that everything they do and say is motivated by partisan calculation rather than by any sincere concern for the integrity of the Constitution and the liberty it is supposed to establish. In this instance, for example, by saying that he believes that Obama was absolutely born in the United States Gingrich dutifully aligns himself with the elite party line. He then seeks to pander to the persistent and still growing number of Americans who have reasonable doubts about Obama’s background. But Gingrich does not treat those doubts as reasonable. Instead he ascribes them to fear and anxiety. In this way, as a mouse skillfully maneuvers to pinch the cheese without springing the trap, Gingrich poses as someone who understands and sympathizes with those who have these doubts. Meanwhile, by contemptuously ascribing those doubts to irrational passions he makes shift to avoid the brickbats of his elitist buddies. Unfortunately for him this cleverly calculated pose of sympathy is not only transparently insincere, it invites us to task Gingrich with the same deficiency he pretends to see in Obama. Gingrich needs to figure out why it is that so many people remain unconvinced of facts he absolutely believes, absent any absolutely believable evidence as to their truth. He needs to figure out why it is that despite the best efforts of cleverly superior elites such as himself many people insist on applying their own common sense.
Of course, this being Keyes, he concludes by proclaiming that since Gingrich doesn’t take the Birther claims seriously, he too is unfit to be President of the United States because he clearly has no respect for the Constitution:
Gingrich and those like him have no interest in preserving and respecting the authority of the Constitution of the United States. If they did they would stop playing cynical political games with an issue that so directly undermines that authority. They would cease their contemptibly clever efforts to use the issue for political advantage and instead support or undertake straightforward efforts to ascertain the facts and conscientiously reached the judgments the Constitution requires.
Like every official who has served in some capacity in the government of the United States Newt Gingrich swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. But on the simple and straightforward issue of the Constitution’s eligibility requirements for the office of President of the United States he has dutifully run with the jackals of contempt for anyone who demands that those requirements be respected. If elected president of the United States he will again swear the same oath as he takes office. Since he has forsworn it on so clear a constitutional issue as this, why should anyone believe that he or anyone like him will deal courageously with the more complex issues of constitutional integrity that now threaten to destroy our liberty.