Speaking of the Newtster, let’s review: The fact that George Wallace really wasn’t that racist, and probably only supported segregation for careerist reasons isn’t a point in his favor. And so with one of the “narrow constituencies” that was once supposed to help form Newt’s unconventional coalition:
As speaker of the House in the 1990s, for example, Gingrich played a key role in setting aside space on Capitol Hill for Muslim congressional staffers to pray each Friday; he was involved with a Republican Islamic group that promoted Shariah-compliant finance, which critics — including Gingrich — now deride as a freedom-destroying abomination; and he maintained close ties with another Muslim conservative group that even urged Gingrich to run for president in 2007.
That was before Muslim-bashing was the new hotness in the Republican Party, and Gingrich decided to become one of the most vocal proponents of sharia panic. The Onion captured the meta-narrative of the GOP nomination race best with a piece titled “Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People.” One of the biggest problems for a prospective Republican nominee is having to disavow a past record of common decency.
Another lesson is that no minority can ever be sufficiently model to avoid being sold out by the GOP. I continue to wonder about relative contributions to the measured tolerance of Islam during the Bush administration of a) the strategic needs of the War on Terror, b) the absence of Barack Hussein Obama as a central public figure, and c) a personal commitment to tolerance on the part of George W. Bush.