Newt Gingrich, Mark Steyn argues, isn’t conservative: “He’s kind of a big government — in a benign sense, I’m not comparing him with Mussolini — but he is a totalitarian in the sense that he believes in interconnected government solutions for everything.” Too extreme? Unfair?
Well, Gingrich is doing his best to prove Steyn’s point. In his grandiosity you see the penchant for rash and overbearing government action. In his latest utterance on judges he reveal much about how he thinks. On “Face the Nation,” he rolls out his false historical analogy, using Thomas Jefferson’s efforts to abolish courts as a justification for doing an end around impeachment and eliminating judges who will be replaced by those he favors. (If anything, those who know something about the law and American history have powerful evidence that Gingrich is one rotten historian.) Then he keeps going. If the president thinks the Supreme Court gets a decision wrong, then Gingrich suggests the president and/or Congress should just ignore it. Small comfort that he says this shouldn’t be true for “every decision.” Whew! (Perhaps on only every 10th case we’d have a constitutional crisis.)
But what if President Obama disagreed with a ruling on Obamacare and decided to ignore a finding that his legislation was unconstitutional?
He could try to do that. And the Congress would then cut him off. Here’s the key — it’s always two out of three. If the president and the Congress say the court is wrong, in the end the court would lose. If the Congress and the court say the president is wrong, in the end the president would lose.
Thunk. So if Obama has a Democratic Congress to aid him, he can junk the Supreme Court’s rulings?
But even that isn’t enough for Gingrich. If judges don’t abide by a subpoena to drag them before Congress to be quizzed on their rulings, he’s going to arrest them. No, really: “ If you had to or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send a U.S. Marshal.”
This is all frightful. That Gingrich actually believes this is both constitutional and wise tells you everything you need to know about his lack of conservative temperament and his unbridled egomania. His scheme, to send us lurching from crisis to crisis, should confirm once and for all that the Old Newt and the New Newt are one and the same. Actually, scratch that. The New Newt is even less constrained by reason, law and prudence than the Old Newt.
Rep. Ron Paul’s views on foreign policy are, many conservatives suggest, a deal breaker. We simply can’t have a president who dabbles in Sept. 11 conspiracy theories and thinks Iran has a good case for acquiring nuclear weapons. I’d suggest that Gingrich’s views on courts and the Constitution are equally disqualifying. We simply can’t have a president who picks and chooses which court decision to follow, wants to subpoena and drag in judges by force of law and send the country in spasms of constitutional conflict.