Today, he appeared on Fox and Friends to complain about Brian Williams asking last night’s debate audience to hold any applause until the commercial breaks:
In an interview with the morning show “Fox and Friends,” Mr. Gingrich said NBC’s rules amounted to stifling free speech. In what has become a standard line of attack for his anti-establishment campaign, Mr. Gingrich blamed the media for trying to silence a dissenting point of view.
“I wish in retrospect I’d protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it’s wrong,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they’ve done in every debate.”
You see, for all of his talk about wanting to go toe-to-toe against Obama in a series of seven thousand Lincoln-Douglas style debates, Newt doesn’t want to debate Obama. He wants to preen for the camera and act like a pompous jerk. He wants to debate the media and bask in the glowing approval of the debate audience members who think the librul media is trying to turn them in to socialists.
First of all, if Newt is such a big ideas historian, why doesn’t he understand what free speech is? Asking the debate audience to hold their applause until the commercial breaks is no more an infringement of their freedom of speech, than is asking a movie audience to shut the hell up for the duration of a movie. Freedom of speech implicates government infringement on protected speech. It has nothing to do with whether or not Brian Williams can tell a bunch of rowdy motherfuckers to shut the hell up for fifteen minute increments.
Second of all, that Newt doesn’t want to attend debates unless he’s guaranteed the right to play to the crowd (while lying through his teeth, mind you) doesn’t bode well for his future debates with President Obama (if that’s how the Republican primary shakes out).
Newt’s idea of a debate is to talk about Reagan, to talk about his supposed historian street cred, to talk about Reagan some more, and be a jerk to the moderator. And you know what? The audience wants to see that. Hell, I wanted to see that last night because I found the debate to be BO-RING as compared to the South Carolina debate. The standing ovations that Newt received in the South Carolina did not relate to any substantive issues, they related to his unabashed dickish behavior. Newton acted like a dick (to John King and then to Juan Williams), and the audience (well known itself for acting like a giant dick… twice) applauded him for it. (And let’s not forget that the next day, Newton gladly accepted praise for putting that uppity negro with the Mexican name in his place.)
While the raucous debates that we’ve seen over the course of the Republican primary may be more entertaining, they’re not truly debates. Debates like last night’s are always going to be boring when debate participants prefer to lie and attack one another than to talk about the actual issues. Also, debates are bound to be boring if the moderators don’t challenge the debaters when they lie. How many moderators have allowed Mitt Romney to claim that President Obama doesn’t have a jobs plan as if the American Jobs Act somehow ceased to exist? How many moderators are going to roll over when Newt summons up faux outrage at moderators who dare ask questions about his past relationships and extramarital dalliances? (Never mind that he is touting himself as the family values candidate, and that his excuse for “falling from grace” was that his passion for America made him cheat on his wives. Let’s just accept that as true. Why the hell not?)
Last night’s display was less about debating, and more about reciting talking points, (and Newt wasn’t even very good at that — see the video clip below, particularly at the 4:00 minute mark.)
If Newt cannot debate — that is — if he cannot make an argument and provide facts to back it up while at the same time refuting the argument of his opponents and providing facts to back up his refutations, then he needs to stop puffing his feather and pretending like he could wipe the floor with Obama in a Lincoln/Douglas debate. Real debates don’t involve a peanut gallery. It’s not a rock concert or a comedy show. It’s an exchange of ideas through argument. Now, maybe Newt doesn’t have any ideas. I haven’t heard any. I’ve just heard him talking about how awesome Reagan was and how he’s been in government since World War II. He name drops and talks about how much ass he kicked in the mid-nineties, but that’s about it. I don’t think Newt can debate. Last night, he was lost without an unruly audience to punctuate his condescension with rowdy applause. He was even rendered speechless for a few painful seconds. (Seriously — watch the above clip at the 4:00 minute mark.)
That’s why Newt is threatening to boycott debates where the audience can’t participate. And that’s why his demand for Lincoln/Douglas debates is so laughable.
Sure, Newton might be able to corral enough assholes to sit and cheer while he insults entire swaths of people (invented Palestinians, Spanish-speakers with their ghetto language, lazy blacks with their food stamps), but that type of nonsense won’t work against someone trained to debate. Someone who has argued in court. Someone who doesn’t need an entourage. Someone who can make an argument without being a dick.
That someone is Barack Obama.