Is Newt Gingrich the only politician who ever says controversial things, "a bomb thrower since he was a backbencher in the House" who "has sought to grab headlines by sometimes taking extreme positions"? One might think so from Monday's "Caucus" post at nytimes.com (adapted into a shorter print article for Tuesday) by reporter Michael Shear.
Gingrich is under fire for posing this about President Obama to Robert Costa of National Review Online: "What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?"
The print version left out the fact Gingrich was referencing a cover story in Forbes by Dinesh D'Souza that suggested the ideology of Obama's father, a native of Kenya, has influenced his son the president.
After forwarding criticism from Democrats, Shear engaged in some mind-reading with the former Speaker of the House, portraying Gingrich as both extremist and insincere about his statements:
But Mr. Gingrich has been a bomb thrower since he was a backbencher in the House trying to work his way up. And in his years as a former politician, he has sought to grab headlines by sometimes taking extreme positions.
As he toys with a run for the Republican nomination, Mr. Gingrich has weighed in on the mosque controversy in New York, comparing the backers of the Islamic community center to Nazis. Those comments drew rebukes from some Republicans but earned him TV time.
The fiery description "bomb thrower" has appeared several times in reference to Gingrich in the normally staid pages of the Times, most often by top book critic Michiko Kakutani, who has used it at least four times.
Melinda Henneberger and Jerry Gray wrote in a November 15, 1997 article on some of the conservative Republican class of 1994 that actually used the phrase to flatter Gingrich by comparison: "They are not just bomb-throwers like Mr. Gingrich. They are suicide bombers, true believers who behave as though they had nothing to lose."
Jason DeParle wrote on January 28, 1996: "On the nightly news, Gingrich still appeared in his familiar guise, as a bombastic bomb thrower with a series of charges against him pending before the ethics committee."
Here's Michael Wines on November 5, 1995: "Gingrich needs bipartisan success on a big issue like the budget to dispel at last his image as a bomb thrower and backbencher."
Columnist Maureen Dowd went personal in her attack on Gingrich, calling him "downright un-Christian" for his comments in her Wednesday column "Who's The Con Man?" (Wait: I thought it was loathsome to question the religious beliefs of politicians.)
The 67-year-old former speaker, who has a talent for overreaching, is more unbridled than ever. He's decided he'll do or say anything to stay in the game - even Palin-izing himself by making outrageous, unsubstantiated comments to appeal to the wing nuts among us.
Gingrich, who ditched two wives (the first when she was battling cancer; the second after an affair with the third - a House staffer - while he was impeaching Bill Clinton), now professes to be a good Catholic. Evidently the first two wives don't count because he hadn't converted to Catholicism. He even had a big Catholic conversion Mass here with his third wife, Callista, celebrated by a retinue of eight priests and three bishops.
But he is downright un-Christian when he does not hesitate to visit the alleged sins of the father upon the son.
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