Newt Keeps Digging

Newt Keeps Digging

Newt Keeps Digging

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 24 2011 3:41 PM

Newt Keeps Digging

Newt Gingrich, Feb. 22, explaining why the Obama administration was so weak on Libya.

There's almost a conspiracy of silence , if it's an anti-American government. If you're the Iranians, if you are the Libyans, for that matter, if you're the Chinese, you are able to suppress your people and the American government stays quiet.

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Newt Gingrich, March 24, explaining what the Obama administration should have done on Libya.

Prior to March 3, I would have strongly recommended an Eisenhower-Reagan model... you should have said nothing. Be very quiet. Condemn the violence. Do everything you can covertly.

Actually, what Gingrich is describing in the second interview is enabled by the behavior he was condemning in the first interview. There's a strain of thought in conservative punditry -- Gingrich, obviously, is not immune to this -- that if the administration is not loudly condemning something, it's not working against it. If it's not using the word "terrorism," it isn't pursuing a terrorist. This is obviously pretty shallow and silly, because that's not how under-the-radar realpolitik works, and it's good to hear Gingrich acknowledge it, even if he doesn't actually acknowledge it.

The problem with this March 24 interview, of course, is that Gingrich describes what he "would have strongly recommended" earlier in the crisis. He did a lot of media and gave speeches earlier in the crisis, and this was not what he recommended.

David Weigel is a reporter for the Washington Post.