Let's bend over backwards to be fair to Newt Gingrich. He contends his comments were misconstrued.
The Washington Post suggested that in warning Democrats they'd pay a huge political price for health care reform he was saying it would be similar to the huge success the Republicans had achieved when they exploited the resentment of bigots and extremists after landmark civil rights legislation passed in the 60's.
Gingrich contends that his observation that Democrats “... will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years” was not meant to directly address the civil rights laws. It was taken out of context, he insists.
What a pity. Because he would have been right. Not just "right" as in conservative, which he is, of course, but "right" as in correct, which he often is not. This time he would have had things nailed if he didn't back off the comments that would have accurately described the sorry history of the GOP in the last 40 years or so.
That's when it made such huge gains by constructing a "Southern Strategy", which was just the polite term for the politics of racism. It was designed to appeal to the passions of prejudice among the whites who were already riled up over the loss of their precious system of segregation.
They felt betrayed by the Democrats and Republicans were only too happy to swoop in and fan the flames of racism. It worked. The "Solid South" went from solid D to solid R as the D's came to represent hated DEsegregation and the R's Resistance.
It was a losing battle in reality but in politics, a winner for Republicans. For many it is still being fought today. Look at the phony baloney lawsuits some of them are filing now, challenging the power of the federal government to regulate health care. They are making the same states rights claims their unethical ancestors contrived in the 50's to create a bogus legal justification for racial segregation. They knew better then, they know better now. But you gotta keep the Base happy with its base instincts.
These dark biases saw the light of day when the violence and epithets overflowed in the crowd of anti-health care demonstrators. They simply couldn't contain their evil thoughts.
We've seen variations in the disgusting caricatures of President Obama on the signs they carry. They are resisting the progress of an entire past century. Of course they are frightened about any future change, particularly when shrewd manipulators convince them it is some sinister plot to steal their freedom.
"GOP", as we know, stands for "Grand Old Party". Whether he meant to be or not, Newt was quite accurate when he described what has sadly become Same Old Party. Yes indeedy. When talking of those on the Right pushing the buttons of ignorance to further the ambitions of its leaders he was right on the button.
What's sad is that so many in the party genuinely believe in a whole gamut of arguably sensible policies that define Republicanism. They are not racists, simply conscientious citizens who believe that a conservative approach is usually the sensible way to go. We should honor them.
But they are being drowned out today's world of mindless polarization. The debate over ideas has been consumed by fanaticism and narrow mindedness that is expertly channeled to the benefit of those who gain a lot by sowing the seeds of disunity. Their racist predecessors showed them the way to keep the hatred and lies alive.
So let's give one to Newt Gingrich for revealing the truth...the sad truth. Whether he meant to or not.