The Embarassing Things That Hating Obama Will Make You Do

Three Tweets from Newt Gingrich this morning, after President Obama confirmed the first strikes on ISIL in Syria, demonstrate not only what is wrong with Newt Gingrich’s mind, but what can go wrong in the age of instant communication when an Obama-hater says something critical of the Commander-in-Chief before the Obama-hater took the trouble to find out if his Obama-hate got the best of him:

gingrich tweets




  1. Troy

     /  September 23, 2014

    Well, Cspan just beat FOX news to that inaccuracie this time. Lol


  2. Anita Tally

     /  September 23, 2014

    I want to send a personal “thank you” for your blog. I discovered yours while reading Anson Burlingame’s (he is a personal friend).

    I am intrigued by this part of your bio: “As a former evangelical Christian, and as a reformed and rueful dittohead, Mr. Graham atones for years of muddled thinking by challenging the prevailing political orthodoxy in our corner of the world, and by confronting the religious bigotry that too often invades — like a nasty virus — our local discourse.”

    ​My husband and I are Democrats. We live in Joplin. I call myself a “progressive Christian” – my husband refuses to be labeled. Perhaps you have read his column in the Globe (alternating Saturdays, on the Faith page). He, too, challenges some of the current trends in religious thinking. ​I will encourage him to add you to his reading list!

    Thanks, and keep up the good work.


    • Anita,

      Thanks for tuning in. I’m glad to know there is more than one Democrat in Joplin!

      Of course I have read your husband’s columns. I was a Globe subscriber for years and years, until we had a falling out (for reasons I won’t go into now). I have always noticed that Craig Tally approached religious belief differently from most of those who write faith columns in the Globe and I have always appreciated that.

      I recently read his “embracing mystery” piece, which I liked very much. Anytime someone weaves into a column on faith quotes from two of my heroes, Darwin and Feynman, I salute them. Around these parts, that qualifies as courageous. (By the way, just last week I spent several hours listening to Feynman interviews and lectures. Fascinating stuff.)

      I suppose I should tell you, since you brought it up, that I tackle pretty hard when it comes to fundamentalist thinking, whether it be Christian fundamentalism or Islamic fundamentalism. As a former evangelical, I include most (but not all) forms of evangelical Christianity in the fundamentalist camp, albeit a somewhat less-caloric version. I say that because a lot of times I am misunderstood, or perhaps fail to make the point clear enough, about what it is I don’t like regarding many forms of religious belief. In a nutshell, what I dislike the most is the brain-freezing certainty involved. Having studied Christianity (and other forms of religious belief) for several years, I have a pretty good understanding of just how much sand there is beneath certain religious declarations and claims. And, believe me, there is a lot of sand. At some point, I came to believe that basing my life on such an uncertain foundation wasn’t something I could do with integrity.

      Thinking about your husband’s column, there are many mysteries involved in our existence, that’s for sure. Truth is, there used to be many more mysteries. But science has, little by little, made the world less mysterious. We know when storms are coming and why. We don’t have to attribute them to unknown or unknowable divine or diabolical forces. We know a lot about nature and how it works. We are starting to understand a lot about how our brain works, including being able to produce, through artificial stimulation, certain religious experiences (heck, anyone who has ever done LSD could attest to that!). As time goes on, we will knock down even more mysteries about the universe and our place in it.

      Ultimately, though, we will always live with the mystery of why we, or any of the things around us, are here at all. I have read the most elaborate and beautiful descriptions of how the universe we know may have come into existence from a random quantum fluctuation controlled by the laws of physics. It really is fascinating stuff. But then one wonders where the laws of physics came from in the first place? And even if one posits the existence of God, the obvious question is where did God come from? If it is rational to say that God has always existed, it doesn’t seem irrational, then, to posit that the universe, or the quantum vacuum that may have produced it, has always existed and that God is an unnecessary part of the explanation.

      I said all that to say that I don’t abhor all forms of religious thinking, just the kind that stifles the mind. I have in the recent past called myself a theist, explaining that I still hold on to a hope that there is a being behind our existence, a being who will bring justice to all, whether in this life or beyond. Lately, though, I am thinking that the proper stance toward it all is one of agnosticism. It just doesn’t seem possible to know (I’m talking about everyday knowledge here, not the kind of knowledge that a strong “faith” allegedly brings) one way or the other whether God is or isn’t. And if it isn’t possible to genuinely know (again, in the same sense that we genuinely know things in our gritty lives) then maybe we should spend our lives thinking about other things, like how to improve life on this planet here and now.

      And, I suppose, that is why I am a Democrat!



  3. I think you could generalize your argument to one of “Embarrassing things hating will make you do”, or even “Embarrassing things not having an open mind will make you do”. Maybe “Embarrassing things always being right will make you do”?

    Hmmm. I’m seeing a trend here.


  4. Sure, you’re right. One could generalize about such things. But if you look back at Newt’s embrace of a very disturbed Dinesh D’Souza (among other offenses he is responsible for), then he’s in a special class and deserves a specific criticism. But, to honor your point, we are all sometimes guilty of feeding our biases. Here’s to hoping that the blind will see!


  5. I doubt whether Newt will suffer more than momentary embarrassment over his leap to a wrong conclusion. It’s the same motivation that caused Faux News to spend all day salivating over the coffee-cup salute thing. Politics means never admitting weakness. A apropos of that, I read a good explanation of the process in none other than the Joplin Globe’s op-ed page this morning. A search reveals that the L.A. Times carried it too. I must say that it confirms my long-held opinion about mankind’s tribal nature.


    • Thanks, Jim, for the link. I hadn’t seen that op-ed.

      We have explored those ideas before, through a piece I wrote (“Pundits, Politics, And Punters“) that cited the Ezra Klein article mentioned.

      I know the basic idea presented is correct. I have little doubt about that. But it doesn’t explain everything that has gone wrong with our politics since Obama was elected by saying “both sides have dug in with a similar obstinacy.” Hardly. The very first piece of major legislation was the stimulus, which was purposely designed to get Republican support (a third of it was tax cuts, as I recall). In other words, Democrats compromised hoping to attract the other side. They didn’t show up. Then we can move to the ACA and see that the entire structure was a Republican one that was adopted by Democrats in order to get Republican support. Not only didn’t that support come, hostile, and I mean hostile opposition broke out. So, again, on a major piece of legislation, compromising to attract Republicans didn’t work out. Two compromises by Democrats on big stuff and they got nothing but attacked.

      Likewise on the budget issues, Jim. Obama was attacked by his left flank for things he agreed to, and wanted to agree to (like changing the criteria for cost of living adjustments to Social Security). But he offered those compromises anyway. And Boehner and his party backed away. No, I’m sorry. They ran away. Same thing with immigration reform. Most Republicans in Congress now oppose the bill passed by the Senate (with limited Republican support), even though the bill was watered down and was front-loaded with bullshit border-protection money, which they said they wanted (Marco Rubio even opposed it even though he helped negotiate it!). Another compromise by Democrats and no action on the other side.

      Finally, and worse, Democrats compromised almost down to nothing on the gun issue. It is hard to even talk about it. And what happened? Nothing. Even the idea of six-year-olds gunned down by a crazy guy wouldn’t budge them, despite large compromises by Democrats.

      So, yes, there are problems with tribalism on both sides, but since 2009, the Democratic tribe has purchased a ton, or two, of peace pipes and the other tribe has gone to war. Not an equivalent thing.



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