I love Arianna and as I said yesterday, I’m sympathetic with her and others who want to embrace all converts to the "this war is a bad idea" camp. But I am intrinsically, tempermentally and constitutionally opposed to allowing Newt Gingrich and other architects of war to evade responsibility for their actions and give themselves political cover by handing them a "free pass" for their zealous efforts to land us in the middle of this quagmire.
Newt Gingrich does not equal Hillary Clinton. He does not equal John Kerry and he sure as hell doesn’t equal Jack Murtha. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece up at Alternet today about Newt’s history in branding anyone who opposed the Bush Administration and/or the war as traitors giving aid and comfort to the enemy:
These same would-be Bush critics have spent the last four years creating a paradigm where this type of criticism of the Commander is not permitted because such criticism constitutes aid to Al Qaeda and is therefore tantamount to treason. Compare the criticisms made by Gingrich of the President’s illegal eavesdropping and his Iraq policies to this truly disgusting declaration made by him just a few months ago on Hannity & Colmes:
I think it’s quite clear as you point out, Sean, that from this tape, that bin Laden and his lieutenants are monitoring the American news media, they’re monitoring public opinion polling, and I suspect they take a great deal of comfort when they see people attacking United States policies.
There are few people left willing to defend the President on much of anything, including the NSA scandal. Several days ago, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner publicly upbraided Alberto Gonzales for "stonewalling" — i.e. engaging in a cover-up — for concealing virtually all relevant information sought by the Committee as it pretends to investigate the Administration’s eavesdropping conduct.
There is clearly a sea change going on. The self-interested rats who propped up this Administration with blind loyalty for the last five years are now jumping ship as it sinks, desperately trying to save themselves by showing some extremely belated autonomy and independence. But where were Gingrich, Conway and Sensenbrenner for the last five years while "the most politically and substantively inept (administration) that the nation has had in over a quarter of a century" inflicted unquantifiable, arguably irreversible damage on our nation? They were accusing Administration critics of lacking patriotism and being on the side of terrorists, and they cannot be allowed to distance themselves now from the Administration to which they tied themselves.
Newt didn’t just support the war. In addition to sitting on the Defense Policy Board and being one of its more enthusiastic cheerleaders, he created a climate where it became impossible to question the war, the rationals given for it or any of the disastrous decisions made by George W. Bush by branding people who did so as anti-American turncoats. As Glenn says:
The greatest evil of the last five years isn’t that our government pursued disastrous and illegal policies, it’s that the administration and its supporters attempted to immunize themselves from criticism for those actions, thus depriving our democracy of its greatest strength. To watch the people responsible for that dissent-quashing now stand up and voice the very criticisms they’ve long equated with treason is far too infuriating to celebrate. It is important to ensure that the people responsible for the indescribable mess our country is in on so many levels not be allowed to extricate themselves from responsibility. There has been one political faction which has run every part of our country for the last five years and they are responsible for everything that has happened. We know who they are and it is critically important that they not be permitted to play-act as a legitimate opposition.
So we should embrace Newt’s apostasy? I don’t think so. He’s admitted no culpability, taken no responsibility for his role in all of this. As Bill Sher argues, he’s probably just dancing around trying to find a new neocon frame for the whole mess that will wash with an increasingly disillusioned public. One that, I suspect, will include the wisdom of going to war with Iran ("you see, the war we really wanted was…")
I guess I’m just not the "forgiving" type when it comes to the likes of Newt. Don’t expect me to joining any kind of applause chorus any time soon.