Why does the Conservative Political Action Conference have any credibility in Republican political circles? It’s apparently little more than a hate-fest in which the speakers run a race to the bottom.
By this time anyone who follows politics has heard about the ugly rantings of Ann Coulter, and her homophobic slur against John Edwards. The condemnation from all sides has been absolutely justified. This woman has been allowed to get away with spewing verbal vomit for far too long without being held to account for it in a meaningful way. She’s the one who, if you’ll recall, made nasty remarks about the 9/11 widows because they held politics other than her own. Now, I’m all for free speech. However, when I say “allowed to get away with” what she does, I simply mean that her brand of political “commentary” should disqualify her from the pundit’s seat that she has occupied for a long time. She has the right to say it, but what she has to say adds no value to the political system and shouldn’t be given airtime.
However, there was another remark made that is, arguably, equally offensive, if not more so. This remark has had very little coverage except on the blogs. I only discovered it myself from the Blog for Our Future coverage, via Crooks and Liars.
For your reading pleasure, the dishonorable Newt Gingrich on Hurricane Katrina victims:
How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn’t get out of the way of a hurricane.
Failure of citizenship? Uneducated and unprepared? OK, unprepared, maybe, although that is really glossing over the truth about the 9th Ward. But it doesn’t take an education to know that a monster hurricane is bearing down on your city, especially when the television coverage is about virtually nothing else. (And I am reasonably sure that, despite poverty, most households did have televisions. About 99% of U.S. households do.) They were simply unable to leave because they didn’t have the means to get out.
The financial means. Evacuation is not cost-free.
So, knowing that the hurricane was coming, they went to the Superdome, went to the Convention Center, barricaded themselves in their homes, and waited it out. It was the best they could do with what they had.
Newt Gingrich is an elitist and a fool. As a Southern politician, he ought to know better. Even Haley Barbour, as much as I dislike him, wouldn’t make a remark like that–if only because he’s too slick a politician to do it. Newt Gingrich apparently has been out of politics for long enough that he’s lost his touch, and now he’s just spouting the right-wing Social Darwinist line without even attempting to gloss it over. “You suffered and died in a tragedy that didn’t have to happen, so it’s your fault for being ‘uneducated’ and poor.” The Social Darwinist part of the American political system (and it is in both parties, although the GOP has far more people who hold these views) really does not comprehend poverty. It doesn’t compute. To them, all the problems in someone’s life that are caused by money can be solved with a quick fix, and it’s the fault of the individual for not taking advantage of this imaginary quick fix.
When I wrote my recent entry about Chip Pickering and John McCain, I said that the response couldn’t have been much worse. I’ve changed my mind. It could have. Newt Gingrich as President would have made it worse.
To return to the beginning of this piece, I think it’s time for respectable Republican politicians to stay away from CPAC. If this is the level of commentary there, then it does no one any credit who attends it.