Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has yet to come up with a plausible explanation for his brazen flip-flop from attacking President Obama for not intervening in Libya to attacking Obama for intervening in Libya the minute military action began. Indeed, on Fox News Sunday this morning, Gingrich offered an especially strange defense of his rapidly shifting positions — pointing out that his original support for military action was itself a flip-flop:
CHRIS WALLACE: You are taking some heat for what a lot of people are calling is a flip on what the U.S. should do in Libya. . . . Some are saying that whatever the President does or doesn’t do, you’re against.
GINGRICH: Well, you should have played an earlier clip when I was on Greta’s show in late February and I said we should be for replacing Gaddafi without using the U.S. military. Now, the President on March 3 changed the rules of the game. the President came out publicly and said Gaddafi must go. and so I was citing there my original position which is if you are not in the lake, don’t jump in. once you’re in the lake, swim like crazy.
Gingrich is indeed correct that, in a February 24 interview with Greta Van Susteren, he took an entirely unique position on Libya which in no way resembles his later pronouncements. Gingrich’s February position was that, if the United States merely stated that we will “actively support any effort to replace Gadhafi,” then the “Libyan military would rapidly decide to replace Gadhafi.”
In today’s Fox interview, Gingrich actually took yet another position on Libya. Gingrich’s position as of this morning is that “now that the President has said Gadhafi must go, our goal should be the defeat of the Gadhafi government and the replacement of Gadhafi as rapidly as possible. Ideally by using Western air power with Arab forces . . . to help with the ground campaign.”
To summarize, Gingrich has taken a variety of conflicting positions on Libya in just over a month:
- February 22: Gingrich blasts Obama for being “quiet” on Libya, says administration “ought to be firmly on the side of the Libyan people in replacing this administration.”
- February 24: Gingrich again attacks Obama for being “strangely quiet” about Libya, claiming that if Obama is more vocal on Libya, its military will bring about regime change on its own.
- March 7: Gingrich criticizes Obama for not using military force in Libya, says that the United States should unilaterally “exercise a no-fly zone this evening.” Gingrich says ground forces are unnecessary.
- March 23: Shortly after Obama exercises a no-fly zone in Libya, Gingrich criticizes the President for doing so. Gingrich says, “I would not have intervened.”
- March 23: On Facebook, Gingrich criticizes Obama for being vocal about his desire to replace Gadhafi on March 3. Say he now supports the no-fly zone because of Obama’s March 3 statement.
- March 27: Gingrich supports the use of air power in Libya, “ideally” in conjunction with Arab ground forces.