In the red corner, fighting out of New York City, by way of the House of Reps, then the MSNBC academy; Joe “Big Country” Scarborough. And in the blue corner, fighting out of the Peach State; also by way of the House of Reps, and recently Fox News punditry; Newt “The Speaker” Gingrich.
Now touch gloves, and come out fighting!!
Yesterday, Timmy K, MacGregor, and myself had a lively debate after Joe Scarborough attacked recent comments made by the former Speaker of the House comparing the Ground Zero Mosque to a Nazi sign at the Holocaust museum as being proof of “demagoguery of the first order”. To be clear, the basis of our disagreement is not the Ground Zero mosque doesn’t have the constitutional right to be built. Nor is there is a disagreement that it is not “right” to be built. On these points we fully agree. Where we disagree is how to attack or address the conservative message to reason why it is not right to build.
This is also the basis of Scarborough’s distaste for Newt Gingrich’s comments. Here is a transcript of the full comment made by Newt last week on Fox & Friends after being asked what he thought of Obama’s retraction to his initial comments supporting the mosque being built:
“No I think that is a sign he got a lot of very angry phone calls from Democratic members of the House and Senate who…that he takes a position that will not defendable and that will make their re-election much harder. Look, this is not about the right, first off there are over 100 mosques in New York City . So, people have the right to free religion if they want it. I’ve said it openly that if they want to build this mosque in the South Bronx that I am all for it. Governor Paterson has offered them state land which is interestingly, I don’t know of any state which has offered a church or synagogue free rent. But he has tried to solve the problem of getting them away from the site.
The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy, that’s why they wont go anywhere else, that’s why they wont accept any other offer. And I think we ought to be honest about the fact that we have a right…and this happens all the time in America . Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington . We would never accept the Japanese putting up a site next to Pearl Harbor . There is no reason for us to accept a mosque next to the World Trade Center .”
Yesterday morning on Morning Joe, Scarborough commented in rebuttal:
“This is demagoguery of the first order. And the Republican party…people in the Republican Party need to separate themselves from these voices. They need to separate themselves. And I talk to you, my Republican brethren, I don’t know how much longer you will be my brethren – I’ll be honest I’m looking for a conservative party that actually believes in small government and not engaging in Wilsonian wars – but that’s another discussion. I’m talking to you as a friend.
I promise you this, you’re going to be embarrassed. You’re going to look back two, three, four years from now and this is going to be a dark blot on your record if you don’t speak out against Newt Gingrich and the voices of hate. Not on the right. Because this has nothing to do with small government. There are demagogues on left and the right. This is an embarrassment and you need to speak out against it.”
Later that morning he tweeted four follow-up messages:
Exactly. Newt is a leading GOP contender for president and he compared a place of worship to Nazism. That is troubling.
Also, Newt’s position has been that this Muslim building can be stopped by the State regardless of the First Amendment.
There are many good, open-minded people who oppose the GZ project in good faith. Newt doesn’t seem to be one of them.
I respect those who have good faith objections to the GZ project. I do not respect those who play to fear and give in to hate.
Now the rest of this will be an edited version of our conversation. Judge for yourself where you might agree or disagree with any of our points.
Johnny M @ 1:12PM:
Interested what you guys think about this? I know I’ve said it before that I am a big fan of Scarborough even though I know he can be a bit prickish. I’m finding Newt more and more insufferable. 18 months ago, I would have considered voting for him as President, now I get fed up listening to him speak. He panders to the lowest denominator and comes off two-faced to me. Like, I can see him talk to O’ Reilly one time and think he is making a great point, then I’ll see him on Fox & Friends and he is like a totally different person. Maybe it’s more about how talented the interviewer is leading him to an answer…
MacGregor @ 1:48PM:
See I’m completely opposite of you on this. Yes, I do have my issues with Newt, and ALL the establishment repub types. Most of them to me are out of touch and just career politicians who pander. And Yes, this is getting too political, but don’t you see how typical this is? They didn’t even report correctly on his comments, and doing the normal smearing and calling ANTI-Muslim, and Islam phobic, and blah blah. Its textbook smear the person when you don’t have a comeback.
But I heard the comments everyone is using to attack Newt, where Newt made the metaphors about Nazi and the Japanese. He also said the Nuns from Poland on O’ Reilly. And then the liberal media and Scarborough says that Newt is engaging in “hate speech” and comparing all Muslims to Nazis somehow. Just because a liberal source says one thing which is leaps and bounds from what was actually said and then reports on it like a fact, doesn’t make it so in my opinion.
Like I always say, we’re called racist bigots all the time not because we are, but because the libs think all the things we say and do lead us to that definition. So Time magazine puts the lady on the cover who was maimed by her husband, then we’re called anti-Islamic and Islamaphobes… I think the entire liberal media is in on this together, you see how they use the same talking points, and push t he same words and use the same language, and I think Joe Scarborough hangs out with too many irrational libs. I used to listen to Morning Joe but just couldn’t take it.
Not to mention… anyone understands that not all Muslims are terrorists and he wasn’t comparing ALL Muslims to Nazis. But 9-11 was done, in the name of Islam. And with over 100 million so-called radical Islamists who are in my opinion as bad if not worse than Nazis, it would have been a fair comparison. Why don’t they say, “NEWT compares Muslims to Japanese”? That would have been an equally absurd headline.
Timmy K @ 3:03PM:
Since the last email a couple of weeks ago I paid more attention to Newt on other programs… I agree he goes off on small tangents and emphasizes little details that seem over the top. I still love his books and his ideas… and still front-runner for prez for me.
How about a little more mosque evidence… Hannity was going nuts about this today. All I here from Maddow, Olby, and the press, is the freedom of religion stuff coupled with the justification for radical Muslims views. That kind of attitude from the lead figure of the mosque is throwing salt in the wound of the victims.
Johnny M @ 3:20PM:
I’ve heard enough of the full Newt comments to feel he isn’t being taken out of context, especially in this case…and he likes to hear the sound of his own voice (see above quote). Cant stand him anymore – seems more establishment than any national Repub figure to me. This is the point that Scarborough makes that I agree with. I’m not as light-hearted about it being a non-issue as Joe might – I don’t think the mosque is a non-issue, but Newt is trying to argue the case with the wrong material.
And his comment comparing them to nazi’s is 100% absurd. He was not comparing them to 100 million extremists, he was comparing directly the Muslims that are involved with building the mosque. And I have seen zero proof to connect the American Muslims building the mosque to any extremists. Watch the full interview on YouTube if you think he is being taken out of context.
Again, I think he talks to feel important so he might not have intended this statement to a different way than I interpret it, but that’s his fault. Nothing I have seen has tied the imam with any radicals, and he seems to have had a relationship with the Clinton, Bush and Obama admins. I think there is a correct way to question the “right” of building the mosque. I don’t think putting an entire religion in the same category as you would the extremists is that correct way — and Newt is tying them both together. And as I’ve said on different occasions, nothing comparing anything to Hitler or Nazis is a good argument. It’s impossible to make it a good one.
Johnny M @ 3:45PM (to Timmy K’s email):
I heard that comment too and then I’ve seen some that show Beck and Bush praising him in other cases. I don’t get it. I’m not sure what to think about him, but until someone finds proof of any ties to radicals I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It shouldn’t be built there, but I don’t think he has the intentions Newt tries to push.
I don’t know. I really don’t know why he made those comments. I am not going to defend them at this point… I found this article helpful for its info.
But like I said in the last message, why if he made these comments in ’05, is he part of Mid-East delegations for Pres. Bush led by Karen Hughes and Condy Rice in ’06 and ’07? That’s what I’m still confused on.
Timmy K @ 3:46PM:
I agree completely johnny… and I think that may be the key question. Can we categorize the entire religion as radicals? I’m don’t want to imply that… but how do you categorize the imams quotes… you seen the latest video now, right? He is supposedly moderate?!!! I think there should be three categories … 10 percent complete terrorist… 60 percent radical with the imams beliefs (i.e. anti jew, anti westernization) 30 percent liberal free thinking Muslims… I’m pulling that number out of my arse but I have never met a Muslim who didn’t hold those imams beliefs.
MacGregor @ 4:04PM:
Yes those are all good points, and I see more now the qualms with Newts statements. I do however just see things from a different point of view when we talk about radical Islam, and all Islam to be honest.
What I’ve heard from this Imam is that he’s stepped in it a few times during interviews over the years. And it doesn’t make me feel okay with him just because he has a prior history with past Presidents. Also, I didn’t think we knew exactly where all the money would be coming from, not to mention the “right” vs “is it right” issue to try and put this thing up so close to Ground Zero. The Imam does not seem to be directly linked to radical Islam but you can bet at this point that its become a rallying cry from those fringe Muslims who view it the way Newt says. Although the Imams wife seems to be alluding towards a compromise, and with the Imam not wanting to comment on Hamas, I’m skeptical on the whole thing. We can argue that Newt should not have tried to link so much the Imam as a radical, but that’s not justification for going ape shit and saying hate speech and blah blah.
So you’re not so much against the people being against putting the mosque there, you’re just against Newt for making some comments attempting to link some of the “folks who want to build this mosque” with radicals?
I agree with you that I don’t think saying directly that these few proposing this are nothing but radical Muslims, but you can easily make a case that those radicals and ones who wish us harm support this as well. It’s just a weird thing, and I understand the anger and outrage over it, but the media claims of Islamaphobia are playing to the Left just as bad if not worse that Newt trying to link the backers of the mosque to radicals. Two simple questions to Newt would clear the air.
1- Do you think that the Imam and main people behind this mosque are radicals?
2- Do you think that all Muslims are radical or evil?
It just bothers me and I’ll fall against Islam almost every time considering the lengths we’ve all gone to not backlash against a religion who does evil in the name of their religion in mass quantities. Imagine this, if 10+ percent of Christians in the world were radical terrorists, and if (I’m asserting my own estimation here) probably 90% of Christians hated Israel and Jews and were indignant towards America, wouldn’t you want to question everything in regards to this mosque? So maybe Newt should have scaled those comments back a bit, but i still agree with him on substance. That’s how I am with most Repubs actually, they peeeev me off and I wish they would have said and done things so differently, but on merit I agree.
Johnny M @ 4:40PM:
I think there is your difference between Newt & I in the 2 questions you pose…and I know I am totally putting words in his mouth here, but my guess is Newt’s honest answer is “Yes and Yes”, and mine is “Not Sure Yet and No”.
The Not Sure Yet part is where I found the article I linked interesting. If his Islamic view as stated is correct (and I’m assuming at this point), it sounds like he is almost like Obama – not trying to pick a side and keeping peace with people everyone no matter what he believes. If he goes on peace missions for the U.S. but yet cant renounce Hamas, it seems like this would be the case.
And Yes, my point in Joe v Newt is not saying I disagree with the argument that the mosque shouldn’t go there. My point is I’m tired of arguments taking everything to the nth degree and trying to defend the likes of Newt and Palin when they do it ALL THE TIME. I agree 100% when you say, “That’s how I am with most Repubs actually, they peeeev me off and I wish they would have said and done things so differently, but on merit I agree.” I know Joe gets a bad rap for “paling around with libs” but I think a lot of his conservative, independent streak is missed because people feel they need to defend the status quo establishment Republican. I think Joe would agree with your sentence there too. And by being cozy enough with the lib media it actually helps him get a good conservative message out without having to go through the BS that peeps like Beck and Hannity have to. Read his recent GQ feature.
MacGregor @ 11:08AM (Next Day):
“When do you qualify them as radical… and where does the imam fall?”
I think you can qualify them as radical or at least potentially radical as soon as you find out they have an irrational fear or hatred of jews. Or when they believe other irrational stuff like being able to justify suicide bombers or somehow believe we are islamaphobic, or somehow believe we are to blame for everything in the world. I also can qualify them as possibly radical if they ascribe or support sharia law which from everything Ive seen is such a fundamentalist interpretation of their political system that is so abusive and intolerant that no one should ever support it.
I’m trying to get an idea of where this imam falls, and it isn’t looking good. This morning I heard clips from a speech of his where he compares suicide bombers to just average people who commit suicide for any reason like getting a bad grade on a test. He also said, what do you expect Muslims to do when you’ve been oppressed by America for 50 years supporting authoritarian regimes, and was using this to justify radical support and suicide bombers. He also said that in his opinion Israel should do the “ONE-STATE SOLUTION.” I’ve learned in the past that the 1 state solution is the dissolution of the Israeli identity into a Muslim state.
So just those statements alone, coupled with his not denouncing Hamas, his comments shortly after 9-11, and his wife’s (Daisy Khan) idiotic comments about opposition to the mosque and feelings about Islam in general being “METASTACISED ANTI-SEMITISM” that the case against these people is pretty clear. For his wife to say that America is beyond Islamaphobia and akin to anti-Semitism renders her and her husband irrational, incapable of looking at themselves or the permanence of hatred and anti-Semitism not just in this country but around the world. I think Newt is mostly right on this.
I forgot she made those comments, I read them on Sunday night, and then listened to them again on This Week podcast. Don’t forget phobias are by definition irrational, and to say that people have unjustified worries about radical Islam, and intentions behind such a group and proposal is to effectively be on their side. When you’re gonna hold someone like Newt responsible for the worst intentions given his comments that can be argued as partially if not mostly true, you gotta do the same for the other side… So when libs and those in favor of this demonize everyone as hateful, bigoted, anti-Islam…it’s fair for us to at least look at what they’ve said and done in the past. They’re playing politics in the worst propaganda way from the other side… In my opinion WAY worse than Newt’s comments. I’ve read him enough to realize that although he does toe the party line and says some dumb things, he is about ideas and is fair.
Addressing Joe Scarborough –
1 .I respect those who have good faith objections to the GZ project. I do not respect those who play to fear and give in to hate. – Partially agree, but give in to hate? Give me an effing break!
2. There are many good, open-minded people who oppose the GZ project in good faith. Newt doesn’t seem to be one of them. – He would think that since he thinks Newt is “giving in to hate”
3. Also, Newt’s position has been that this Muslim building can be stopped by the State regardless of the First Amendment. – Not sure what this means, probably that the city government can make it a site where new religious stuff can go up, or maybe by the state he means the populous.
4. Exactly. Newt is a leading GOP contender for president and he compared a place of worship to Nazism. That is troubling. – He absolutely did not. People destroyed the towers in the name of Islam, and since radical Islam is very prevalent, growing, and not rooted out, we can hold their entire religion under more scrutiny. If you use Joe’s comparison here than Newt also supposed compared Islam to the Japanese and to Catholic nuns.