The fact that Newt Gingrich told a baldfaced lie at Wednesday night’s GOP debate in Arizona when he said President Obama voted in favor of infanticide some years ago when he was a senator from Illinois hardly qualifies as a headline story because the words ‘Newt Gingrich’ and ‘liar’ are pretty much the same thing. I’m quite sure it won’t be long before his face will be displayed in Webster’s Dictionary as an illustration beside the word that best characterizes who and what he is; ‘liar’.
The more relevant point to be made here is that Newt – together with Rick Santorum in particular – are utilizing these lies in a dangerously divisive manner designed to stir up the hatred of Obama to the boiling point. This is the sort of mentality that actually craves chaos and disorder. It is the energy that fuels the rabid right wing of the Republican Party, the wing being courted desperately by the campaigns of both Gingrich and Santorum. Since their chances of leading this nation are located somewhere between slim and none, then their strategy is to set it on fire and try their best to spray Obama with gasoline.
Just as a reminder, here is what Newt said last night:
From the Huffington Post, “You did not once during the 2008 campaign ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide,” Gingrich said. “If we’re going to debate about who is the extremist on this issues, it is President Obama, who, as a state senator, voted to protect doctors who killed babies.”
And then just for clarification, so the facts are known, here, as my colleague Jason Easley pointed out in an earlier post, is what FactCheck.org had to say about the whole sordid issue back in 2008:
Anti-abortion activists accuse Obama of “supporting infanticide,” and the National Right to Life Committee says he’s conducted a “four-year effort to cover up his full role in killing legislation to protect born-alive survivors of abortions.” Obama says they’re “lying.”
At issue is Obama’s opposition to Illinois legislation in 2001, 2002 and 2003 that would have defined any aborted fetus that showed signs of life as a “born alive infant” entitled to legal protection, even if doctors believe it could not survive.
Obama opposed the 2001 and 2002 “born alive” bills as backdoor attacks on a woman’s legal right to abortion, but he says he would have been “fully in support” of a similar federal bill that President Bush had signed in 2002, because it contained protections for Roe v. Wade.
We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus, according to an undisputed summary written immediately after the committee’s 2003 mark-up session.
Whether opposing “born alive” legislation is the same as supporting “infanticide,” however, is entirely a matter of interpretation. That could be true only for those, such as Obama’s 2004 Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, who believes a fetus that doctors give no chance of surviving is an “infant.” It is worth noting that Illinois law already provided that physicians must protect the life of a fetus when there is “a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb, with or without artificial support.”
It is easy to dismiss this sort of lunacy because it is exactly that; lunacy. But as we have seen by the reactions of too many right wing crowds at so many rallies – from those supporting Sarah Palin to those deranged, bloodthirsty crowds at recent Republican presidential debates – there are a few too many crazy people out there. They are like walking triggers in search of an explosive device.
Nothing good can happen when you place hatred over a fire.