Posted Friday, Dec. 16, 2011, at 9:29 AM
Andy Kaczynski prods Glenn Beck with a poker hot and fresh out the kitchen, finding and collating five instances of Newt Gingrich calling himself a "Theodore Roosevelt Republican, from 2002 to 2009.
The first instance here is from a 2002 debate with Ralph Nader; the last is a 2009 talk to James Carville's politics class. All of this occurred the rise of Beck and the Tea Party (the last one overlapped just a little), at which point TR's progressivism became part of the dark history of America. "We have a guy in the Republican Party who says his favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt," said Beck at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference, jabbing at John McCain. "Well, I thought so too, before I read Theodore Roosevelt!" It's a multi-faceted hit against Gingrich, one that implies he's basically a government-loving progressive, while it implies that he's fatuous and will grab ideas and historical datums without checking if they make any sense. Unlike Glenn Beck, of course. That guy never gets his history wrong.
Beck is a greatly reduced figure. Had he not left his Fox News show (left/got pushed out, etc.), and he was making these arguments in the 5 p.m. cable news block, they might be more than a fun circus act.