"You're coming with me."

Oh, Newt

The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple – food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history. More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history. I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history.

Now there’s no neighborhood I know of in America where if you went around and asked people, would you rather your children had food stamps or paychecks, you wouldn’t end up with a majority saying they’d rather have a paycheck.

And so I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps. And I’ll go to them and explain a brand new social security opportunity for young people, which would be particularly good for African American males because they are the group that gets the smallest return on social security because they have the shortest life span.

- Newt Gingrich, 1/5/2012

The arrogance in deigning tell the NAACP that black people should ask for jobs instead of food stamps is almost as astounding as the ignorance and borderline bigotry in the statement. Excessive hubris is never a more dangerous or reprehensible character trait than when it’s combined with (and exacerbated by) outright stupidity.

As I’ve pointed out before, Gingrich is actually kind of an idiot and a hypocrite. The dirty little secret of academia is that a PhD in any given field does not guarantee a person is enlightened, informed, or even intelligent. It does mean that s/he has put in a lot of hard work to achieve it, but it does not alone qualify someone as an intellectual. On a purely anecdotal note, I’m happy to tell you about PhDs I know that actually believe 9/11 was an inside job, and their degrees are rooted in modern concepts and events rather than Medieval European History.

Besides the racist tone of the statement, we also need to move discussion of economics and the economy past the level of President by first acknowledging that the effects of the mortgage crisis and collapse that occurred in 2008 (before Obama took office) was and is going to have residual repercussions that will be felt for years. People have a misconception of the economy as a wild beast whose kicks and bucks you feel immediately; a view that is unfortunately encouraged by politicians and partisan hacks. Economies, nationally and globally, are more like a large body of water. Contaminants take time to spread, and while some effects can be seen immediately, others don’t become readily apparent until some time later.

It is helpful to keep this in mind because while Obama should be taken to task for some of the policies and inactions of his first term, what’s occurring now is actually the result of literally decades of missteps, debt mismanagement, and oversights and lack of foresight in regulation of certain financial market sectors.

It is also important to understand that this current economic state is global. Though we are reared to think of ourselves as the center of the world, the effects of the crisis are far reaching and its roots are not only laid domestically. Just look at what’s happening in Europe. Even China is having some severe economic difficulties, though because of the nature of their country’s politics and notorious obscurity of their domestic issues we only have a vague concept of its depth.

And so, in short, there are four things that we can learn from Newt Gingrich, Goofus and Gallant style, with Newt as the former:

  1. It’s not okay to portray blacks as being eager and willing to accept food stamps rather than paychecks.
  2. The domestic economy is a bit more complicated than simply who happens to be in the White House at any given time.
  3. The cause and effects are far-reaching.
  4. Newt Gingrich is no intellectual.



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