Why Gingrich Matters

James Fallows urges the press not to pay too much attention to Newt Gingrich’s already-floundering Presidential campaign.  Comparing it to Donald Trump’s effort, he argues:

if Gingrich coverage turns into Carnival Barkers Part Deux, we’ll end up giving headline attention to disputes that have more to do with reality-show celebrity than with how Republicans will choose their issues and their candidate.

Fallows clearly has a point, but in my view he neglects Gingrich’s broader significance, and thus the reason why his campaign should undergo sustained scrutiny.  The modern Republican Party is to a great extent, Gingrich’s party.  Not because of the man himself, but rather because of “Gingrichism” — his philosophy of how to conduct politics.

The essential nature of Gingrich’s insurgency in the House and his conduct as Speaker was the destruction of the informal institutions of American governance.  By “informal institutions,” I mean those habits and customs outside of formal, written law that make democracy work.  Some things are simply not done; everyone agrees to resist the temptation for political advantage in order to make the system work.

Gingrichism is the philosophy that all means short of illegality are fair game in the struggle for political power.  He came to the fore in the House minority by personal attacks on other members’ patriotism; he stirred up the Republican base with the argument that the Democrats were not merely wrong, but evil and a threat to the Republic.  As Speaker, he destroyed the existing committee structure and bill mark-ups, did away with Congressional institutions to educate members (such as the Office of Technology Assessment or the Administrative Conference of the United States), and centralized power in the leadership.  When he did not get his way with Clinton, he cavalierly shut down the government.  Not cowed by the political disaster that ensued, he used the House’s impeachment power for political purposes and put the House Oversight Committee in the hands of Dan Burton with the express mandate to harass and cripple political opponents.  Gingrich broke institutions not by accident, but on purpose.

And if we examine the most malignant trends of the Republican Party over the last 15 years, many (although not all) of them represent this pattern of destroying institutions — and, importantly, any sense of impartiality, good faith, or nonpartisanship — for the purpose of achieving political power.  We are all arguing about who started the filibustering of judges, but it was when the Republicans took control of the Senate in 1995 that routine blocking of Presidential appointments began.  Republicans sued to prevent the counting of votes in Florida and got 5 of their hand-picked justices to go along with them.  Once ensconced in the executive branch, the Gingrichist GOP started issuing signing statements to tell its functionaries which parts of laws not to enforce; insisted that Presidential power was absolute, and ignored subpoenas.  It got rid of professionals and installed unqualified but politically loyal hacks and cronies in key positions.  Back on the Hill, Senate Republican majorities fired the Senate parliamentarian when he ruled in ways that they did not like and then shoved non-budget items into the budget to overcome filibusters.  When it lost its majority in 2006, the Republican Caucus quickly obliterated records for filibustering, attempting with great success to destroy the institution by making it completely dysfunctional.  When Barack Obama won the 2008 election, Mitch McConnell went into the complete Gingrich pose, planning to stop anything and everything offered up, refusing to negotiate in good faith, and even filibustering measures that were Republican ideas.  As for Obama himself, the Gingrichist RNC made it very clear that he was not a political opponent: like Tom Foley and the House Democratic majority, he was an enemy of the country.

Now, people are shocked, shocked, that the Republican Party is going to play games with the creditworthiness of the United States and the stability of the global economy for short-term political gain.  There is nothing new here: it is simply the replay of the Gingrichist shutting-down of the government on a broader scale. 

When Gingrich accused Obama of trying to bring about a secular-socialist coup in cahoots with Muslim extremists, he wasn’t parroting the Tea Party; he was parroting himself from 1994.  It was the Tea Party that stole his rhetoric, not the other way around.

And that is why, in my view, we cannot ignore Gingrich even if his campaign is doomed to fail.  His campaign, with all of its narcissism, mendacity, intellectual incoherence, and duplicity is the Republican Party in its purest, least adulterated form.  By looking at Gingrich we are not avoiding how the Republicans will choose their issues, or even their candidate: we are looking at their methods, ideology, goals, and tactics in their ultimate nature.

Republicans are busily distancing themselves from Gingrich now, but they cannot.  He is them.  They are him.  They see him every time they look in the mirror.

Comments

  1. NCG says

    Well, I admit that I do tend to ignore most of what Gingy says.

    But I am very happy to see some semblance of accountability in our politics, so bravo, Jonathan!!! He is a very reckless person. I wouldn’t have thought he deserved to be tagged with Tea Party-style incoherence, but recent events seem to prove me wrong.

  2. Robert the Red says

    I recently visited Istanbul, which made me think about Ottoman history more closely. Why did they do so well for a 100 years or so, then slowly relapse into the “sick man of Europe”? I realized that the same fate would overtake the USA if modern Republicanism ruled us for 50 years or so — the governmental system would become totally corrupt in a way that would be unfixable without revolution. When the rulers believe they own the nation and can do with it what they want for their own short term purposes, then things are fun for a while (for them and their pals), but the system becomes rotten — and eventually can’t support real governance.

    This is the fate I fear for America — cronyism, crisis, then Caesarism — or rot. And the Republicans, following the practices and leadership of Gingrich and Bush, are leading the way there as fast as they possibly can.

  3. koreyel says

    Cha-ching.
    Gingrichism is especially well-minted.

    Money post Zasloff….
    Package it up and sell it.

  4. Altoid says

    Agreed, and Gus is right too about genuine conservatism. One thing I’d add is the K street project, which may not have been completely his idea, but which was certainly in his spirit: require massive donations from interests, funneled through pet lobbying firms, in order to buy legislative attention; require said lobbying firms to get rid of their staff Democrats and stop talking to or funneling money to Democrats in order to become and remain pet firms. Cash for attention was the very definition of political corruption, and the second part was intended, Rove-like, to cripple the Democrats financially and monopolize interest money for the republican leadership, its party funds, and especially its PACs and “charities.” Political opponents had to be destroyed, not just bested.

  5. says

    Trying to pinpoint the exact moment the modern GOP lost its collective mind is a fun parlor game. I’m glad to see someome get it exactly right. It wasn’t the rise of Palin and the Tea Parties, nor the 2000 election, nor the 1998 impeachment, or even Fox News or Rush.

    It was Newt’s ascendence to the Speakership in January 1995. He created this monster. Fox News, Delay, Boehner, are all imitators. Gingrich is the father of modern authoritarian (as opposed to corporatist or libertarian) conservatism.

    Bravo. Mr. Zasloff! The only thing you left out is that Gingrich is a product of the Southern approach to politics, with its sense of besiegement and victimization. Viewing politics as war comes from this worldview and this world.

  6. drkrick says

    Atwater was a campaigner – Bush the elder didn’t bring him in to help govern after you won. The fact that Bush the younger did bring Rove in is a pretty good example of creeping Gingrichism.

  7. Benny Lava says

    Which is why I reiterate my position that Gingrich isn’t trying to become president. He is a lot of things but not naive. He knows he’d never win the general election. Instead he is trying to shake off his role as party pariah and gain a party leadership position. I don’t know if he will succeed, but I think that’s his goal.

    Trump and Palin were after the quick buck. What do you think Pawlenty is after?

  8. Henry says

    I don’t know what Pawlenty is after, but seeing his face in the national media might be all. These guys have very weak egos.

  9. says

    This seems right to me. But like all politicians, he is merely a reflection of political dynamics and ideology at any given time in society. How Gingrich came to prominence is a story that begins much earlier, and to the extent that he resembles so much of the modern Republican spirit, so to does he resemble the modern conservative movement. Because of my age, I’m not comfortable speaking to any era prior to 1992, yet there were clearly many themes developing for decades that culminated in Gingrich’s special standing.

    My first experience with the modern Republican party was when I began listening to conservative AM radio as a delivery driver in early 1990s San Francisco. Horrified and fascinated, I listened to Limbaugh and local host Michael Savage spewing their particular brand of logical fallacy, faux outrage, chauvinist entitlement, and paranoia.

    A middle class white kid out of high school, raised with leftist parents and anti-authoritarian to the bone, I had never encountered such a triumphantly wrong-headed cacophony of right-wing political rhetoric. Taking social science classes at night, delivering meals to people with AIDS during the day (some of whom lived in mansions, the majority of whom lived in appallingly wretched slums and housing projects), I listened as the poor were deemed lazy, minorities thankless whiners, the government greedy and corrupt, and white Christian businessmen persecuted and oppressed. There could not have been a more striking contrast between the reality of what I was studying in school and witnessing daily in my travels around the city, and the bizarro narrative coming out of my van’s speakers.

    This was the age of Republican ascendancy, Whitewater, Lewinsky, welfare reform, Ruby Ridge and Waco, Elian Gonzalez, the Oklahoma City Bombing, militias, and political correctness. Yet what I heard on the radio was much more radical than most of what could be heard coming out of mainstream Republican politicians and pundits. Violent rhetoric, or at least language that framed reality in such imperiled terms as that anything but violence seemed inadequate, was the norm. The government, with its “jack-booted thugs” was literally one step from imposing martial law, liberals and feminists were mentally ill and plotting to take over the world with their one-world-government, otherwise known as the United Nations. Apocalyptic language painted a picture of imminent end times. You don’t negotiate with Satan.

    Thinking back on those years, I would have been shocked at the thought that such radical and extreme ideology would come to pervade national politics, and give rise to such a mainstream movement as the Tea Party, which promoted even more outlandish conspiracies and fabrications, making the allegations against Bill Clinton seem tame in comparison. Yet if the climate today was built upon the climate of the nineties, which in turn was built upon decades prior, a pattern emerges that – if continued – bodes poorly for decades to come. Assuming Obama is re-elected, achieving a popularity rooted in (hopefully) economic recovery that eclipses Clinton, what might the next Republican presidency look like? What mistakes might they make that usher in a Republican radicalism even greater than we see today? With the relatively reasonable and somewhat grounded conservative fore-bearers having by then passed away, what will the next generation – those raised on FOX – news look like? A frightening thought, indeed.

  10. says

    David G is correct I think – what we are seeing is the impact of a style of politics based on Southern culture, which was poisoned by slavery and in rejecting the Declaration of Independence (from at least John C. Calhoun to Alexander Stephens) ended up with a purely domination based approach to government. To justify it they had to trade in Locke and the liberal enlightenment for Hobbes and finally the Bible. They were for states rights not because states had rights, but because they dominated some states. Once they dominated Washington they lost all interest in states rights, only to return to it when Obama won.

    The precise point where the GOP chose the dark side is debatable – like many huge changes, it was accomplished in a series of steps. I suspect the first was passage of civil rights legislation, which made Southern democrats’ loyalties up for grabs. Then there was Buchanan’s memo to Nixon to split the country on cultural lines because they’s have the “bigger half.” He was right at least for a while, though not in time to help Nixon. (Buchanan’s memo is my personal favorite for a turning point for the degeneration of the GOP into war against the best founding principles of this country.) Then comes Atwater and the extension of his approach to campaigning into governance by Gingrich. And endless steps downwards since.

  11. Brett Bellmore says

    I would think that, at a time when the government was having it’s assassins shoot mothers while they held their infants in their arms, (Ruby Ridge) or burning people alive, (Move bombing, Waco.) that anything short of inflammatory rhetoric fell short of being appropriate. What’s your complaint? That certain people didn’t calmly ignore what the government was up to?

  12. Basilisc says

    Excellent, excellent post. Gingrich ’95 really was where the govt became the arena for total war. But we shouldn’t forget some of Newt’s forbears. Think especially of Nixon, who had a similar political attitude to Gingrich and would no doubt have taken a Bush/Cheney approach to the presidency if Republicans in Congress at the time (who were still dominated by moderates like Scott, Javits and Schweiker) had let him. This brings out how Gingrich’s overturning of long-established norms was only possible because he had many followers. And it’s definitely true that southern resentments played a big role in all this – think how Gingrich was succeeded by Livingston (LA), DeLay (TX), Lott (MS), Frist (TN) … These resentments had been partially kept in check when southern whites were in the Democratic party, then were unleashed when the Nixon/Thurmond Southern Strategy finally bore fruit in the 70s and 80s. And the consequences are still with us.

  13. says

    Brett, that isn’t a serious analysis of the type of rhetoric that was and is being used. Specific incidents of government malfeasance are worlds apart from the ideological narrative being concocted in which the government in total is demagogued as an existential threat to American citizens. It’s part of a reductionist, paranoid worldview that is, whether on the right or left, idiotic.

  14. Brett Bellmore says

    The fact that McVeigh was offended by something that offended millions of Americans does not demonstrate that millions of Americans are potential mass murderers. It demonstrates that even mass murderers can, sometimes, be offended by evil. Even as you demonstrate that non-murderers can often be numb to it.

    And, I’d rather we reacted to trends like the government’s (thankfully former) habit of ending police standoffs with arson while they are still small, rather than waiting until they become commonplace. If we all ignored evil until it became an every-day part of our lives, the world would be a hellish place indeed.

    In short, I’d say that every year that goes by without the feds burning some group alive is a day we should be thankful that not everybody has your aversion to ‘inflammatory rhetoric’. It certainly wasn’t the people making excuses for what went down there that brought that practice to a halt.

  15. Dan Staley says

    I always ask people having similar petty plaints as Brett @ May 21, 2011 at 10:49 am: why haven’t you moved to another country yet? I attribute it to the fact that as Eli implies, the analysis isn’t based in reality.

  16. Dan Staley says

    @ Eli May 21, 2011 at 9:54 am:

    I had a similar shock when I was a landscaper in Sacto in the 80s, listening to his BS and having some folks in the building trades around me believe his BS. He was still local then and a local boy and had the trades’ attention. Some of us who were appalled at the spew we heard quickly realized that those who ate up his spew weren’t interested in how his spew was BS – it appealed to something they wanted to hear, and that was good enough. Very eye-opening and discouraging, as at that time I had moved away from such ignorance several times and thought I could escape it. Alas…

  17. NYShooter says

    I can’t believe that, 18 comments in, no one has mentioned the the moment that reality, common sense, and cognitive abilities were declared UN-American.

    When The Gipper proclaimed that “Government IS the problem,” deregulation, unabashed greed, and the accompanying cannibalism that blossomed forth became, not only acceptable, but worthy goals that REAL Americans strove for.

    I’m sure this is redundant, but I wonder who today’s Republicans consider America’s greatest President?

    Certainly not Washington, nor Lincoln, as I was brought up believing.

  18. koreyel says

    Eli: Brett, that isn’t a serious analysis of the type of rhetoric that was and is being used…

    Really Eli? Not serious? You mean blaming the right’s ongoing nihilism and present day attacks on the institutions of education, science, the debt ceiling, and the fact-finding work of the CBO can’t be traced to, and justified by Ruby Ridge and Waco? Eli, you are right of course. Brett’s argument is so lame it reminds me of a joke the younger, pot-smoking George Carlin used to tell his audience in regards to pot causing herion addiction: “Mother’s milk leads to everything.”

    By the way Eli, your fist post was merely a great read. But the third one, with the link to McVeigh’s letter, is an absolutely stunning take down. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so thoroughly eviscerated in so few words on a thread. Of course your concise dicing relies on that link to show Brett is belly to belly with McVeigh:

    In the letters to his hometown paper, McVeigh reiterated that what he did was necessary to defend the personal freedom of all Americans and exact revenge for the disastrous government raids at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. The bombing, he wrote, was “a legit tactic” in a war against what he considers an out-of-control federal government.

    Side note to Brett: You may want to take your shovel and wait for another thread to start digging again. Your pompous response did nothing to hide your tracks. In fact, it looks like most of the dirt landed once again on top of your own head.

  19. kevo says

    If unwatched along the piers, even flotsam and jetsam can be dangerous!

    I’ve hated watching Gingrichism bashing against our institutional pillars all these years. Newtie has been damaging our beloved country way too long! His is a corrosive effort to feed his narcissism – and he is a reckless man! He belongs on a Ship of Fools, as their master and commander!

  20. Benny Lava says

    Wait what? Ruby ridge and Waco? People are upset about that? Why? People broke the law and resisted the efforts of law enforcement. And they died. And they got what they deserved. To be upset about that is strange. What next, tears of sorrow and outrage of the murder of Osama bin Laden?

  21. Brett Bellmore says

    Speaking of “people making excuses for what went down there”, that was right on schedule…

  22. bobbyp says

    Shorter Brett….watering the Tree of Liberty with one’s (or others’) blood is OK if they are on my team.

  23. Brett Bellmore says

    Benny, Bobby, your comments simply demonstrate that government propaganda is effective on lazy people. I suggest you stop basing your opinion on the government’s pre-trial press releases, and start looking at what happened when the government tried to prove their case in court.

    I mean, you ARE aware, aren’t you, that Weaver got off because the feds entrapped him on a technical violation because they wanted to recruit him as an informant? That it was proven that they fabricated evidence in an attempt to prove their version of events on Ruby Ridge really happened?

    They made one big mistake at Ruby Ridge: They let the press in before they’d cleaned things up, and the press photos contradicted the forensic photos that were taken afterwards; The feds had rearranged the crime scene to conform to their version of events.

    Well, they certainly didn’t make that mistake at Waco. Kept the reporters out of line of sight, jammed radio frequencies so only their version of events could be heard, burned the joint to the ground, and then made off with evidence the Texas Rangers testified survived the fire, and was present when they turned the site over to the feds.

    But, of course, nobody who’s swallowing government propaganda like a chick with it’s mouth wide open for regurgitated worms is going to know any of that.

  24. Dan Staley says

    Watering the tree of liberty with the p*ssed pants of fear-filled scaredy-cats. Salty PatriotP eventually kills the tree.

  25. Dan says

    Nah, I looked it up and I’m wrong. But I think he has utilized a straw man. Stay tuned for my retraction.

  26. says

    (Zasloff): “As Speaker, he destroyed the existing committee structure and bill mark-ups, did away with Congressional institutions to educate members (such as the Office of Technology Assessment or the Administrative Conference of the United States), and centralized power in the leadership. When he did not get his way with Clinton, he cavalierly shut down the government.
    The House and Senate passed a budget that did not contain what President Clinton wanted. The President vetoed that budget. It was not Speaker Gingrich but President Clinton who “shut down the government”.

    Par for the course for Professor Zasloff:…
    (From the Goodwin Liu thread)
    (Zasloff): “Like the vast majority of Obama appellate judicial nominees, Senate Republicans have filibustered him.”
    (Malcolm): “Cite? AP says otherwise:

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama lost his first vote on a judicial nominee Thursday, as Senate Republicans derailed the nomination of a liberal professor who leveled acerbic attacks against two conservative Supreme Court nominees – both now justices.

    Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they need to end a filibuster and give Goodwin Liu an up-or-down vote on his nomination to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liu, a 40-year-old legal scholar at the University of California’s Berkeley law school, could someday be a dream Supreme Court nominee for liberals.

    When assertions as to fact need have no relation to fact, argument is like tennis without a net.

  27. Brett Bellmore says

    Identify the straw man, Dan.

    “Wait what? Ruby ridge and Waco? People are upset about that? Why? People broke the law and resisted the efforts of law enforcement. And they died. And they got what they deserved. To be upset about that is strange. What next, tears of sorrow and outrage of the murder of Osama bin Laden?”

    As I pointed out, Benny has an understanding of Ruby Ridge and Waco which is apparently based entirely off pre-trial press releases, and uninformed by anything that came out at the trial and subsequently.

    Want to know what Randy Weaver’s crime was? He, a poor man, was approached by a federal agent, and offered substantial money for sawing off the end of a shotgun. The agent provided the shotgun, the hacksaw, and directed Randy where to cut. Classic entrapment. It’s doubtful Randy was even aware that a 1/8″ difference in where the cut was made the difference between ‘eh’ and a felony. And why did he do this? Because he wanted a lever over Randy to recruit him to infiltrate the Aryan Nation. Only Randy wanted nothing to do with the Aryan Nation, and refused.

    They then scheduled a court date, and notified Randy of the wrong date. Granted, he didn’t show up on the wrong date, either, but the process was clearly rigged.

    They then spend a fortune equipping the area around his home with various survailance devices, went in, and when they encountered him and his son hunting, shot first, and shockingly, under fire, the Weavers shot back.

    And Benny describes this as, “People broke the law and resisted the efforts of law enforcement. And they died. And they got what they deserved.”

    And you find ME objectionable?

  28. says

    (Benny): “Ruby ridge and Waco? People are upset about that? Why? People broke the law and resisted the efforts of law enforcement. And they died. And they got what they deserved. To be upset about that is strange.
    Here’s Wikipedia:…

    2. Chanel Andrade, 1, American
    28. Cyrus Koresh, 8, American
    29. Star Koresh, 6, American
    30. Bobbie Lane Koresh, 2, American
    33. Dayland Gent, 3, American
    34. Page Gent, 1, American
    38. Lisa Martin, 13, American
    39. Sheila Martin, Jr., 15, American
    43. Crystal Martinez, 3, American
    44. Isaiah Martinez, 4, American
    45. Joseph Martinez, 8, American
    46. Abigail Martinez, 11, American
    47. Audrey Martinez, 13, American
    51. Melissa Morrison, 6, British
    58. Mayanah Schneider, 2, American
    63. Aisha Gyrfas Summers, 17, Australian, pregnant
    64. Startle Summers, 1, American
    66. Rachel Sylvia, 12, American
    67. Hollywood Sylvia, 1, American
    69. Serenity Jones, 4, American
    70. Chica Jones, 2, American
    71. Little One Jones, 2, American

    What law did these children break? How did they “resist”? Why isn’t Janet “I take full responsibility” Reno doing life without parole, at minimum, today?

  29. Benny Lava says

    So if I understand Brett correctly then failing to appear in court, resisting arrest, and shooting at law enforcement officers is not a crime anymore. Ok, good to know.

    And if I understand Malcolm correctly, then drug dealers who have children living in a drug house cannot be arrested because there are children present. Also good to know.

    Thanks for clearing it up fellas. Good job.

  30. bobbyp says

    Dear Brett,

    I share your outrage over the government’s assassination of Fred Hampton.

  31. Brett Bellmore says

    So, if I understand Benny, police are entitled to murder folks without encountering any resistance.

  32. says

    (Benny): “…if I understand Malcolm correctly, then drug dealers who have children living in a drug house cannot be arrested because there are children present. Also good to know.
    1. If (a) an end to drug prohibition and (b) a legal environment which allows law enforcement to burn women, children, houses and villages exhaust our policy options then legalization probably gets majority support.
    2. The initial action against the Branch Davidians involved the BATF, not the DEA. Drugs were not at issue. Janet Reno used the “drug” excuse (falsely) to gain access to otherwise illegal use of the military (the tanks) for domestic law enforcement.

  33. Benny Lava says

    So, if I understand Brett, folks are entitled to shoot at police with no reciprocity. Interesting.

  34. Benny Lava says

    1. If you say so.
    2. Did I say drugs were an issue with the Branch Davidians? No. Stop lying.

  35. Benny Lava says

    If I learned anything from this discussion it is that Supreme Court justice Brett Bellmore sided with the majority decision of Chief Justice Malcolm Kirkpatrick in Conservatives vs the United States in the ruling which states conservatives are allowed to break any laws they wish at any time with no consequences. I have learned a lot from this.

  36. says

    (Malcolm): “The initial action against the Branch Davidians involved the BATF, not the DEA. Drugs were not at issue. Janet Reno used the “drug” excuse (falsely) to gain access to otherwise illegal use of the military (the tanks) for domestic law enforcement.
    (Benny): “Did I say drugs were an issue with the Branch Davidians? No. Stop lying.
    Ummm…
    (Benny): “drug dealers who have children living in a drug house…

  37. Benny Lava says

    I see that Malcolm is either unable to read or mendacious, but I’ll go with mendacious. I never claim that Branch Davidians ran a drug house, but pulling an example out of context is par for the intellectually dishonest course with Malcolm.

  38. Brett Bellmore says

    “So, if I understand Brett, folks are entitled to shoot at police with no reciprocity. Interesting.”

    I would much prefer that, when delivering a search warrant for a non-violent offense, the police not go in planning on opening fire no matter what the people the warrant is being delivered to do. But, if they insist on going in shooting, yes, I would rather that they get shot back at. Given the nature of some of our laws, and the abusive manner of their enforcement, I don’t think enough cops are dying. No mindless supporter of the growing police state, me.

    But you just don’t want to admit that at both Ruby Ridge, and Waco, the ‘police’ shot first. They did so pursuant to an operations manual which dictated that, were dogs encountered, they were to be shot on sight, to preclude any possibility that the dogs might be sicced on the officers. It took several resulting bloodbaths before some braniac at Justice finally figured out that killing the family pet ticks people off, and that when you start shooting in somebody’s general direction, they usually assume you’re shooting at THEM, not Fido, and defend themselves.

  39. Brett Bellmore says

    Benny, I generally abhor labeling people “trolls”, but I think you’ve earned it with the display above. Your drug house comment was in direct reply to Malcolm’s list of children killed at Waco.

  40. Warren Terra says

    Brett, I’m not going to defend the initial encounters at Waco or at Ruby Ridge, nor the eventual violent actions to end the standoffs.

    But once the standoff had emerged, there was some responsibility of those surrounded, and in custody of noncombatants, to surrender or at least to facilitate the evacuation of the noncombatants. The Waco siege lasted fifty days and – divine intervention excepted – there was no way that Koresh could prevail. The way you tell the story, you conflate a violent response to armed strangers committing an unannounced midnight invasion (which, contrary to the recent Supreme Court raid, seems fairly rational to me) and the subsequent seven-week standoff. The heat of the moment rather dissipates over seven weeks. For better or worse, the claim made by the authorities is that their eventual, disastrous attempt to force an end to the standoff happened because they feared a mass murder-suicide by the besieged, fortified, heavily armed millenialist cult that for seven weeks had refused either to surrender or even to evacuate the children. The eventual incursion to end the standoff was misguided, but their motive was not unreasonable.

  41. says

    (Brett): “Benny, I generally abhor labeling people ‘trolls’, but I think you’ve earned it with the display above. Your drug house comment was in direct reply to Malcolm’s list of children killed at Waco.

    Benny’s making a habit of this. Just recently (Professor Kleiman’s “Stray Thought” post):…

    (Benny): “Malcolm, you’ll note that I did not say ‘always’ even though you quoted me as such, which is quite mendacious. Not surprising, you’ve done that before.
    (Malcolm): “Ummm…
    (Benny): “…just like they always do.
    (Malcolm): “‘Always’ overstates things.

    People are strange.

  42. Brett Bellmore says

    Actually, they thought there was a way they could prevail, in the end: By surrendering on reasonable terms, rather than on terms designed to allow the feds an opportunity to falsify evidence as they had attempted at Ruby Ridge. A consistent demand of the Davidians was simply that the press be allowed in to photograph the place before they surrendered. They knew this was what had saved Randy Weaver in the end. Their mistake was not realizing that the people in charge would rather they died than permit that.

    I’d note that expecting people to be reasonable at the same time you’re deliberately inducing sleep deprivation is remarkably stupid. The Davidians were being subjected to 24/7 bright lights and loud noises designed to prevent them from getting any sleep. And what’s a known symptom of sleep deprivation? Paranoia.

    So I’d say that the Davidians acted exactly as crazy as the feds arranged for them to be.

  43. Benny Lava says

    Brett, what is your evidence that the police shot first?

    Also, you seem to be unable to read an analogy as I never claimed that Waco was related to drugs. Don’t worry about calling me a troll, though, I don’t mind. I’ve called you a troll before because you obviously are. Spades are spades after all.

  44. Brett Bellmore says

    Benny, you’re severely taxing my commitment to being civil. My evidence is that they testified they shot first. Stop basing your understanding of those events on BS press releases and a basic inclination to support a police state, and look at the trial records.

    If this is a “reality based community”, what the freak are you doing here?

  45. Perspecticus says

    Brett Bellmore says: “And, I’d rather we reacted to trends like the government’s (thankfully former) habit of ending police standoffs with arson while they are still small, rather than waiting until they become commonplace. If we all ignored evil until it became an every-day part of our lives, the world would be a hellish place indeed.”

    In other words, Timothy McVeigh is a national hero?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] with portfolios based on congressional trades beating the market by about 6 percent annually. Gingrich flails as a candidate. But his legacy endures. Gingrichism is the philosophy that all means short of illegality are fair game in the struggle for [...]