Unlike Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich doesn’t do much to alter his basic speech from event to event — but, judging from the comments all around me, he still manages to hold the interest of, or even entertain, his audience.
Speaking last night at an antique car museum in the heart of the (white) blue-collar area of Mobile, AL, Gingrich used the backdrop to make the obvious point that gasoline sure was a lot cheaper back when those cars were on the road. He then moved into what already is becoming a familiar, but instructive, litany of Barack Obama’s transgressions against reasonable energy policies — including Gingrich’s favorite new target, namely Obama’s recent embrace of yet another new form of bio-fuel:
“I don’t think [the museum owner] has a single algae car!”
Gingrich told a humorous story about when oil shortages in the late 1970s briefly created rationing systems in which drivers could buy gasoline only on certain days, depending on whether their license plates ended with an odd number or an even one. He said his friend (and mine) David Bossie, now president of Citizens United, remembers being 13 years old and having his father send him out each morning with a screwdriver to switch the license plates back and forth between the family’s two cars, depending on which one needed gas.
Gingrich said conservatives and liberals naturally react differently to “laws so dumb that fathers enlist 13-year-old sons to break them” (that’s actually a very close paraphrase; I didn’t get the exact words of the quote). Conservatives, Gingrich said, would naturally want to get rid of such a dumb regulation. Liberals, he said, would insist we need to hire some license-plate police.
Gingrich moved on from energy to foreign affairs long enough to say that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “should resign tonight” if Panetta really believed that a U.S. administration need more “permission” from foreign powers than from the U.S. Congress when deciding whether to use American force.
He blasted Barack Obama for having, in the same fortnight, apologized to Afghanis for mistaken Koran burnings even after Afghanis killed innocent U.S. troops — in other words, showing outsized deference to radical Islam — at the same time he was moving ahead with violations of religious liberties (especially of Christians) within the United States via his mandate on insurance coverage of abortifacients. He accused the administration of being “disrespectful and bigoted… about [against] Christianity…. We are tired of you denigrating our culture, our religion, our beliefs.”
Back to energy, Gingrich went on at great length (as Santorum had earlier in the day in Mobile) about the vast new energy supplies found in North Dakota — and he noted that Barack Obama in his recent press conference spent lots of words denigrating “drilling” as a solution for energy problems, only to shortly thereafter claim credit for great new supplies of natural gas. But, asked Gingrich rhetorically, how does Obama think the new gas was found?
The answer, of course, is drilling — in areas that would never even have been explored had Obama succeeded in an attempt he made as a senator in 1987 to end the U.S. Geological Survey’s task of keeping and developing an inventory of fossil fuel potential. “This is a case study,” said Gingrich, “in cognitive dissonance.” (AND, whispered my wife, “cognitive dissidence too!”)
Finally, Gingrich moved onto the political outlook for his presidential campaign. He belittled Mitt Romney’s sales pitch about the importance of a businessman’s managerial ability in the Oval Office. “You don’t need a manger in the White House,” said Gingrich. “You need a visionary leader…. As it says in Proverbs, “without vision, the people perish.”