Newtie and the Blowback

Josh Marshall (and everyone else) seems to believe that Newtie was seriously discredited by his rhetorical bayonet charge at Colin Powell last week. That may or may not be the case, but it's hardly a body blow to Gingrich because he was already relegated to occasional Fox News commentary and behind the scenes strategery. The Bushies made a point of never being seen in the same room with him. If he was planning on making a Nixon-like comeback, he's got a long way to go.

However, I doubt that was the point. The Republicans understand propaganda and Newtie understands it better than anyone. He fired off a salvo at the behest of the radical imperialists in the administration knowing full well that he would be severely criticized by the Colin Powell faction. It isn't the first time that he has taken a bullet purely for the purpose of injecting a new meme into the discourse. As that great DC journalist Cokie Roberts once said, "It doesn't matter if it's true or not, it's out there."

These things often sound shocking at first, and it takes somebody with a special gift for controversy to plant the seeds of radical change and nurture it into the mainstream. It's Gingrich's true talent and the reason why he was such a successful "revolutionary" and such a dismal "leader."

The radical right drumbeat for "State Department Reform" is already beginning as a result of his speech. Kristol endorsed it and that's as good as saying it is only a matter of time before it becomes a GOP article of faith. Powell is reportedly unlikely to stay for a second term, so they are planning to purge the state department of career diplomats and analysts who are resistant to their Imperialist fantasies.

Like the Soviet totalitarians they studied and came to identify with, the radical right excels at power strategies and internal political control. And, while George W. Bush is showing quite an aptitude for Stalinist strong arming, the Leninists and Trotskyites are still necessary to consolidate the GOP hold on the body politic.

Newt has not yet outlived his usefulness.