Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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Your Daily Newt: "Gingrich Has Done It Again"

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Newt Gingrich's appetite for reading is notorious. He's a speed-reader, and friends and aides like to tell stories about Gingrich walking around in circles, moving his fingers across the pages of some massive history book. So it was only natural that, when his political talents were no longer in high demand in Washington, the former speaker reinvented himself as an Amazon.com reviewer. Between 2005 and 2008, Gingrich penned 156 reviews—all positive—at the online retailer, on subjects ranging from Civil War novels to science fiction and longform journalism. Here's one I've selected totallly at random, which will doubt endear him to the GOP's social conservative base:

Dave Freedman's Natural Selection is just plain fun. It is pop-Darwinism carried to its ultimate extreme, but it stresses your mind, gets you to wonder about the species that could be in the ocean deep and reminds you that things aren't always the way they seem. While this book is fantasy rather than science, it brings just enough science and high technology in to make you pay constant attention. The intelligence of the dangerous new species makes this a cross between Jaws and Michael Crichton's description of intelligent nano-biology. I recommend it for pure fun and for getting you to think a little differently about the possibilities on our planet.

Gingrich, whose weakness for adverbs is a matter of public record, adopted a new set of rhetorica; tics in his reviews. As Dave Weigel noted:

Gingrich was a master of blurb-speak; it's a surprise he didn't end up cited on the back covers of more paperbacks. On Robert B. Parker's thriller Potshot: "Parker has done it again." On Mark Bowden's drug war classic Killing Pablo: "Bowden has done it again." On Ken Follett's Jackdaws: "Follett has done it again."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich holds up a copy of something that's not his 1994 novel, "1945."

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Gingrich's 1994 novel, 1945, presents a provocative alternative history in which Hitler invaded eastern Tennessee at the end of World War II. Most news accounts of the book didn't get that far, though. Instead, they focused on the sex scene in the novel's opening pages. But as Charlie Homans reports, that's really not Newt's fault; blame one of his co-authors, Jim Baen:

Baen's eagerness to secure a large audience for 1945, [Gingrich friend David] Drake believes, was to blame for the Nazi Sex Kitten Incident. Dissatisfied with the first draft that Gingrich’s new co-author, William Forstchen, turned in, Baen began rewriting much of the novel himself—including an opening scene in which a Nazi spy, posing as a Swedish journalist, seduces the American president's chief of staff in an effort to pry loose nuclear secrets. "Suddenly, the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress," he wrote. “She rolled onto him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. 'Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things.'" Convinced the scene was the book’s strongest selling-point, Baen circulated an excerpt to political reporters and Hollywood producers.

The book, unsurprisingly, was a flop. As Homans notes, "When the speaker appeared at the Chicago Book Fair to promote To Renew America, Baen was reduced to handing out free copies of the novel to anti-Gingrich protesters outside, who tore the books to pieces on television."

Photo by Tim MurphyPhoto by Tim MurphyShona Darress has it on good information that George Soros, liberal financier, scourge of the right, quarterback of the no-huddle offensive against all that makes America great and holy—the Sultan of Slant, the Maharishi of Misinformation, the Big Bopper of Bias—is secretly controlling the flow of information at Fox News. This might come as a surprise to some of you, given Fox News' fairly unambiguous vendetta against Soros and the progressive causes he helps support. But it is apparently the reality we must deal with, and Darress has the charts to prove it.

When I approach her booth (sponsored by the group "America's Survival") deep in the bowels of the Conservative Political Action Conference, and ask how she possibly came to the conclusion hinted at by her display, she quickly points to a smiling face on a poster a few feet behind her. "This, here: Sally Kohn. She's Soros-funded." Darress points to the next face, right below. "Jehmu Greene. She's Soros-funded." Although Sally Kohn is, according to Darress' literature, "the new face of Fox News," I've never heard of her; Green's role at Fox is as the token liberal on Sean Hannity's nightly program, a position that seems to exist solely to give Hannity and his panelists someone to yell at. "They're publicly owned," she says when I ask how Soros came to control the country's leading outlet for conservative news. "It's not that they went to Fox News and said we want to buy your stock—they just did it." The pamphlet she hands me spells it out more clearly: "Most likely Fox knuckled under to blackmail. Soros went after Murdoch's Empire with the hacking investigation against News of the World using the left-wing Guardian newspaper."

All of which explains why she'a hawking the bumper stickers that drew me in to begin with—red ones with "Bring Back Beck" in big white letters. "Glenn got shoved out because of Soros. He was outing everybody, wasn't he? He wasn't shutting up about George Soros! Soros didn't really like that." As for Beck, "He'll stay undercover a little bit longer. But the news is out."

Spread the word.

Update: Sally Kohn tweets: "I am NOT nor ever have been funded by Soros, despite Right wing assertions to contrary."

The Best Swag at CPAC

Forget everything you've heard about shrinking government, icing the welfare state, and giving poor children the maintenance tools to pull themselves by their bootstraps—at the Conservative Political Action Conference, everyone's just looking for a handout.

That, at least, was my conclusion after talking to the good folks at Procinctu, a firm that "works to arm you with the knowledge and tools necessary to attain self-sustainment, empowerment, and security." That entails a number of things—warning you against the evils of Monsanto, promoting the purchase of gold and silver, encouraging exercise. And purchasing, for $10, this t-shirt:

If that's tough to read, let me spell it out for you: It's a t-shirt celebrating corpse desecration (a response to this). No one's buying, though; mostly people just come by, snap a photo, and keep on walking when they find out it's not free.

Maybe that's because everything else at CPAC is free. Here's a very incomplete sampling:

The plot of this book—free, if you promise to tell three friends about it—is that Einstein was wrong, time-travel is possible, and our 16th president has done exactly that in an attempt to steer America back on course.

Redecorating your office? Looking for something for that special someone this Valentine's day? Enter to win a free portrait of your favorite GOP presidential candidate:

Of course, if you load up on hand-drawn portraits of GOP presidential candidates, you'll probably need a car to help you bring them home with you. And if you're going to have a car, you'll want a bumper sticker to go with it:

And if you're going to get rear-ended by the driver who took your bumper sticker the wrong way, you'll want same sustenance while you recover. Like a cake replicating the board for the "Tea Party board game." Its creator told me it was like a combination of Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. They offered me a slice. I told them I always have someone taste my food first. No one laughed.

In addition to handing out Chuck Norris t-shirts, our friends at birther hub WorldNetDaily are shilling for a presidential candidate of their own. But do they know he was born in the Philippines?

This is....interesting:

Pasha Roberts, the creator of the animated film Silver Circle, explained it to me this way: "Basically the plot of the movie is there is a severe economic collapse in 2018. There's a group of rebels who are fighting the Federal Reserve, and the way they fight is by making alternative currency out silver." Think Children of Men meets the Ron Paul Revolution. When I tell him I work for Mother Jones, he adds one more detail: one of the heroines of the flick is a "pot-smoking lesbian":

This isn't free, but I had to share it anyway. It's just a few feet away from a display of Ron Paul books. As I thumbed through this defense of colonialism, a Mitt Romney supporter next to me picked up a copy of End the Fed and held court with his friends: "This is what his freakish followers read. When they protest Romney events, they have a megaphone and they just read the book. It's disgusting!"

Runaway Slave: Run From Tyranny to Liberty, celebrates the exploits of African-Americans who have...embraced the Republican party. As the tag line puts it, the film "lays bare the truth about blacks and the progressive agenda. Get on board the new underground railroad!"

CPAC: Attack of the Anti-Multiculturalists!

The hottest piece of swag at the Conservative Political Action Conference in DC is the beer koozie. You can pick up upwards of a dozen varieties wandering through the massive exhibit hall in the basement of the Marriott Wardman Park. You can even get a koozie from the anti-multiculturalist student group, Youth For Western Civilization. But it wasn't the knick-knacks that drew me over to the group's table in the basement exhibit hall, though—it was their logo, a black-and-white image of a flexed arm grasping some medieval piece of weaponry.

It looks like a battle axe, but I'm quickly corrected—it's actually a war hammer. "It's supposed to represent Charles Martel," a volunteer tells me. That's a reference to the eighth-century French leader and father of Charlemagne who turned back the Muslim invaders at the Battle of Tours. Martel is something of a hero to the group because they believe the same thing is happening today—American civilization (Western Civilization) is slowly being watered down into something unrecognizable. We don't just need less illegal immigration; we need a lot less immigration, period.

"Mitt Romney is a soulless automaton with no principles—which is why he's good," says Kevin DeAnna, the American University graduate who founded the organization, suggesting that the GOP front-runner's malleable core values might make him easily persuadable. "He's not a closet leftist like George W. Bush." No group benefits more from immigration than the 1-percent, another volunteer chips in, and Kevin quickly agrees. "When Occupiers come up to us—and I'm sure you can imagine they do—this is what we say to them," he says. The 99-percent should be vehemently opposed to illegal immigration—as proof, he cites the early 20th-century labor organizer Samuel Gompers, who called for limits to immigration out of concern for the domestic workforce. Of course, Youth for Western Civilization's alliance with the Occupy Wall Street crowd is probably short-lived; the same group has also posted articles on its website denouncing Nelson Mandela as a "bloodthirsty terrorist" who should have been hanged in the 1980s. (DeAnna tells me he wishes the Occupiers weren't so caught up in political correctness.)

After wandering through the exhibit hall, I dashed upstairs, where an overflow crowd was gathered for a breakout session called "The Failure of Multi-Culturalism: How the Pursuit of Diversity is Weakening American Diversity." As one speaker put it, "Europeans and their trans-Atlantic cousins are literally an endangered species." Another speaker, Rosalie Porter, chairwoman of the anti-bilingualism group ProEnglish, lamented that the Civil Rights Act had ushered in an era of multiculturalism, in which Americans were distinguished by made-up terms like "Hispanic."

Which isn't to say that the entire conference is dominated by White Nationalists. But in a year in which the CPAC's organizers blocked the LGBT group GOProud from co-sponsoring the event, their inclusion is a jarring reminder of the deep-seated biases preventing the conservative movement from actually becoming the Big Tent Republicans say they want.

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