Newt Gingrich, a peripatetic soul who apparently treks from one TV studio to another with sound bites in hand, the other day came up with the cause of the baseball field shooting that left the House majority whip and four others wounded: “an increasing hostility on the left” toward the apparently angelic President Trump. He clearly has the president confused with the Dalai Lama.
It ought to be apparent that one man with one rifle does not make a political movement. The shooter was deranged, consumed by hate, and while our times are tense and polluted by excessive partisanship, the list of political assassinations is long — Lincoln, McKinley, John and Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Harvey Milk and Huey Long, to name some of the more prominent. Just as an infinite number of monkeys dancing on an infinite number of typewriters will produce “Hamlet,” so will a nation of 350 million people and even more guns produce the occasional massacre.
Gingrich was not content to stick to the facts. In his depiction, the shooter represented something called “the left.” Just a couple of weeks ago, Kathy Griffin held that title. On Fox News, her single (astoundingly) tasteless depiction of the decapitated Trump made her into the face of the Trump opposition. Sean Hannity carried on about her as if she was an actual elected political leader. For Griffin, this was not a bad day’s work: She brought Hannity down to her level.
Now Gingrich has gone further. Appearing on Fox and commenting on the shooting, he said, “You’ve had a series of things that send signals that tell people it’s okay to hate Trump,” he said. “And now we’re supposed to rise above it?” He added, “Maybe this is a moment when everybody takes a step back, but there is no evidence of it.”
But this is the very same Trump who campaigned as a bully in the schoolyard. He ridiculed Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio; he slandered Ted Cruz by linking his father to the Kennedy assassination. He called Hillary Clinton “crooked Hillary.” He egged on his followers to attack political demonstrators, he encouraged hatred of immigrants and he called Mexicans “rapists.” Finally, he mocked a disabled journalist.
Through all this, Gingrich contained his desire to speak out in condemnation. He, in fact, supported Trump, becoming an unofficial adviser. He did not get the reward he must have thought behooved him — secretary of state or something – but his wife is going to be the ambassador to the Vatican. Just recently, Gingrich added one side of his mouth to the conspiracy theory that Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer, was murdered last year to keep him from telling what he knew about how WikiLeaks got thousands of hacked Democratic Party emails.
“Nobody’s investigating that, and what does that tell you about what’s going on?” Gingrich said on Fox. “Because it turns out, it wasn’t the Russians. It was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigative his murder. So I’d like to see how [Robert S.] Mueller [III] is going to define what his assignment is.”
In a flash, we got an insight into Gingrich’s jaundiced mind. In fact, from the day he first entered Congress, to the day he was forced to resign as House speaker, no one has been more bitterly partisan than Gingrich. He has been on one specious crusade after another — remember the adulterous Gingrich on Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky? — and now, suddenly, he poses as the voice of reason. Gingrich has accomplished much in his career, but his real triumph is to give hypocrisy a bad name.