It’s a pretty strange move for a man who is seeking the Republican nomination for President in 2012 to spend any part of the 10th anniversary of September 11 doing anything other than commemorating the event. It’s even less strategic to have that “something else” be going to the opera, and worse still for it to be a $1,000-a-ticket fundraiser. But then, nothing about Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign suggests that he’s aware that while Republican voters might hope that they themselves will become rich, they don’t really want the evidence of other people’s wealth thrown in their faces.
There are additional reasons Gingrich’s long-time patronage of the Washington National Opera company rings the hypocrisy bell. His co-investor in that enterprise (along with a lot of other rich people) is the National Endowment for the Arts, which Gingrich once suggested transitioning into a privatized organization. If Gingrich has had a change of heart and is fine with the National Endowment for the Arts now, as an arts-lovin’ progressive, I welcome his conversion. But that’s probably not the case. He, like David Koch, is the kind of political figure who would like to see organizations like the NEA disbanded in theory but isn’t going to go so far as to boycott anything supported by public arts funding. Purity gets in the way of so many entertaining things.
Then, there’s the matter of the opera itself. You could make an argument that Tosca, the first performance of the WNO, is actually a totally appropriate piece of art to use to reflect on the 10 years since September 11. It’s got political prisoners, information extracted under torture, and politicized executions. But then, only a hippie liberal would spend Sept. 11, 2011 thinking about what we did to ourselves over the last 10 years, in addition to what al Qaeda did to us.