Newt Gingrich: Alternative Historian

Since leaving office in 1999, Newt Gingrich has carved out a lucrative post-Congressional career for himself as a speaker, a pundit, “citizen leader,” and possible presidential candidate, all while serving as chairman of his own organization as well as a fellow at various right-wing think tanks.  Heck, he’s even got his own avatar.

In addition, he’s also established himself as something of an “alternative historian,” writing novels that re-imagine everything from the Civil War to World War II.    So enthralled with the idea of alternate history is Gingrich that he’s even pontificated on an “Alternative History of the War since 9/11” with fascinating results.  

But now it seems as if Gingrich’s obsession with alternate history is starting to infect his other, more reality-based, pursuits. 

For instance, yesterday Think Progress caught him defending John McCain’s embrace of John Hagee, saying that McCain had repudiated Hagee’s anti-Catholic statements and that attempts to hold McCain accountable for Hagee’s offensive views was “grabbing at straws.”

Gingrich went on to suggest that McCain has adopted “the Ronald Reagan position” meaning that “People get to endorse me. I’m not endorsing them.”

That’s a good defense – unfortunately, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of what Reagan actually said:  

The former actor, famed for his optimism and his ability to communicate it to the American public, was also famous for introducing many conservative Christians to real political influence.

Reagan was present — and uttered one of his most famous lines — at the meeting that many credit as the birth of the Religious Right, which molded evangelical Protestant conservatism into a cohesive political movement.

At the Religious Roundtable’s National Affairs Briefing in 1980, after being introduced by a Southern Baptist evangelist as “God’s man,” Reagan — then a presidential candidate — told the gathering of conservative Christian luminaries, “I know you can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.”

Reagan’s quip launched a relationship with conservative Christians that would eventually reshape America’s political landscape.

Perhaps Gingrich should try to confine his fictitious historical yarns to his novels and avoid working them into his appearances as a political pundit.