Gingrich sums up conservative ethos: “I am not a citizen of the world! I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous.”

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"Gingrich sums up conservative ethos: “I am not a citizen of the world! I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous.”"

Ich bin ein Berliner” — not!

The other intellectual leader of the right wing — the one whose first name isn’t Sarah — summed up the narrow minded and ultimately self-destructive “every-country-for-themselves” mentality of the modern conservative movement Monday.  Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was keynoting the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Senate and House Republican campaign committees — standing in for the dithering Alaska governor (see WP‘s “Palin Sideshow Spotlights Cracks in the GOP“).

l had thought the Republican National Convention’s chant of “Drill baby, drill” was the moment the Republic died.  But if conservatives continue blocking strong U.S. climate and clean energy legislation — and thwarting the international action needed to prevent this gravest of all threats to citizens of every country — then this statement by Gingrich might top it.

Gingrich’s self-defining and self-defeating statement was doubly ignorant from a historical perspective.  First, he was attacking Obama for remarks that President Reagan himself had made a quarter-century ago, which CNN itself failed to report in its coverage of Gingrich’s remarks.  As Media Matters explains:

[CNN’s] Crowley and Allen reported that the line was a jab at President Obama, but failed to report that former President Ronald Reagan made similar remarks. In a July 2008 speech in Berlin, Germany, Obama described himself as “a citizen — a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.” In a June 17, 1982, speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Reagan similarly said, “I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world.”

Indeed, if you go to the link, Reagan actually opened his UN remarks with those words.

Second, to compound the historical ignorance of Gingrich, who is often mistakenly viewed as the conservative’s “big ideas” guy, Obama was famously delivering this speech in Berlin in July 2008 — close to the 45th anniversary of Kennedy famous June 26, 1963 Berlin speech.  Everyone expected him to make some sort of nod back to Kennedy, especially since, as Obama himself noted, he has the pedigree:

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen — a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

Hardly black helicopter or world government stuff.

Let’s end with the remarks that inspired Obama, indeed, that inspired the everyone in the world — except Gingrich and his ever shrinking cohort of conservative compadres:

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’

l am a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.  Those who don’t see themselves as both are free to leave.

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17 Responses to Gingrich sums up conservative ethos: “I am not a citizen of the world! I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous.”

  1. Lewis says:

    The words of Ben Franklin leap to mind, “We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.”

  2. Thomas says:

    More climate, less partisan politics – we already have Kos.

    [JR: Can’t separate the two, I’m afraid. If we don’t preserve a livable climate, it will be primarily because of partisan politics. I try to evenly spread my posts on climate science, clean energy solutions, media critiques, and politics — but with the first (and for the foreseeable only) chance for this country to actually make real climate progress with congressional legislation, people who want to understand the climate issue need to understand the politics.

    The overwhelming majority of my readers don’t have time (and/or inclination) to read Kos.]

  3. Greg Robie says:

    This critique is a great example of thinking and feeling that is informed by what Jonathan Haidt has modeled as the liberal pole of humanity’s perception of morality, while Gingrich speaks from (and to) the conservative pole of the continuum. Both perspectives solve the human need to feel moral, but do so differently. From the liberal extreme, neither is right or wrong. From a systemic perspective the same is true. The “rational” way forward must include and meet the needs of both. Since the perception of moral differences is the stuff that religious wars stem from, learning to value what is morally repugnant is both our liberal challenge and a need.

    BTW, the “drill baby drill” chant you reference Joe, inspired a song that the following is the lyrics for. They are an attempt by me to speak across this moral divide.

    Drill Baby

    Oh, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill,
    Mamma, its time to put you on the pill.
    We don’t need more like you on the Hill,
    No Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill.

    Down from Alaska the good gal came,
    Giving new life to what’s-his-name.
    We need more oil to help our gods
    To continue to oppress all the poor SOBs.

    So, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill,
    Mamma, its time to put you on the pill.
    We don’t need more like you on the Hill,
    No Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill.

    Who are the gods that we fight for?
    Exxon Mobile, Conoco and more.
    Why do we do it? The reasons’s a shame:
    Our dollar’s strength depends on OPEC’s game.

    So, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill,,
    Mamma, its time to put you on the pill.
    We don’t need more like you on the Hill,
    No Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill.

    To change our ways is what’s required,
    But trying to do that keeps us stuck and mired,
    ‘Round who is God, and what is right,
    While “forgetting” how we’re living is such a fright.

    So Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill,
    Mamma, its time to put you on the Hill.
    How we’re living means that we need you still,
    Go! Drill Baby, Drill Baby, Drill Baby, drill!

    ©1 2008 greg robie

  4. Hi Joe,

    this is OF, but Yale360 interviewed Dyson Freeman here:

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2151

    and one nice quote:

    “And I’m happy every time I see that the Chinese and Indians make a strong statement about going ahead with burning coal. Because that’s what it really depends on, is coal. They can’t do without coal. We could, but they certainly can’t.”

    [JR: if there wasn’t so much else to blog about I would have completely dissed Yale360 for this absurd interview in which Dyson once again proves himself a crackpot cheerleader for humanity’s self-destruction.]

  5. t_p_hamilton says:

    “l am a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world. Those who don’t see themselves as both are free to leave.”

    I think the conservatives are already on another planet. :)

  6. paulm says:

    If this does not indicate peak then ….

    Crude Costs Could Delay Economic Recovery
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/business/

  7. Nathan Srigley says:

    the term ‘morally bankrupt’ in its living embodiment.

  8. paulm says:

    Gas prices expected to go up too.

    Oil sector faces investment crunch – Gazprom CEO
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8551057

    A shortage of oil and gas investment means the sector will fail to meet demand ….. Nobody has solved the issue of the “2012 supply gap” which may emerge later than thought but which will be deeper.

    “It means prices may even jump over the $250 hurdle we have forecast a year ago,”

  9. K L Reddington says:

    Gas prices expected to go up too.

    Oil sector faces investment crunch – Gazprom CEO
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8551057

    at this moment it is -99 degrtees at vostok station antarctica and forecast -113 in 2 days. I just found out china is buying oil.

    I admire JFK. He was strongly opposed to abortion and a fiscal conservative also like Newt Gingrich. I have met Newt in person and find he has a better handle on global politics than what we see in leadership today.

  10. Mark Shapiro says:

    Republicans have a history of ignoring clear, repeated warnings because they think they know everything they need to know. Recall Richard Clarke warning the Bush admin about Al Qaeda, fiscal conservatives warning Reagan and Bush about deficits, and IIRC Roosevelt warning isolationist Republicans about fascism.

    Is Newt Gingrich channeling Mr. know-it-all from Rocky and Bullwinkle?

  11. Mark Shapiro says:

    Newt Gingrich proudly declares that he is . . . an isolationist!

    Newt Gingrich: isolationist.

    (Didn’t we try that once before, with disastrous results?)

  12. Barbara says:

    How we see ourselves in relation to the rest of the world has everything to do with climate–with the attitudes that got us where we are today and those that can help us move forward together on the planet for the best possible outcome. From what I can tell, this is our only hope for climate progress…

    The great strength of this site is Joe’s ability to integrate climate, energy, and policy issues. It’s all intertwined, just like the citizens of the world. We certainly have the potential to keep up–to the bitter end–the “every-country-for-themselves” mentality that Joe brought up, but we best stay mindful of this general human tendency–balance and counter it with what is more realistic and constructive–or it will take us down.

    So you go Joe–wherever you want… and thank you for wading through it all and sharing your knowledge, experience, and perspective.

  13. SecularAnimist says:

    To my mind the important point about the Gingrich remark is not that he said such a thing, since Gingrich is a well-known fraud and BS artist who will say anything for attention or money.

    Rather, what’s important to note is that the corporate-owned, so-called “mainstream” media, e.g. CNN, chose to bullhorn Gingrich’s ignorant and stupid comment to tens of millions of Americans while deliberately suppressing the information that Republican President Ronald Reagan had proclaimed himself a “citizen of the world” in language almost identical to that used by Democratic President Obama.

    Likewise, the biggest threat to public appreciation of the grave danger of anthropogenic global warming is not the denialist propaganda of ExxonMobil-funded propaganda mills, or the sneering lies of bought-and-paid-for shills like Senator Inhofe, or the rantings of right wing extremist demagogues like Rush Limbaugh.

    Rather, it is the complicity of the half-dozen giant corporations that own and control virtually all of the USA’s mass media in hammering the American people with denialist propaganda over the last couple of decades, while actively disparaging and suppressing accurate scientific information.

    The corporate-owned mass media does not use its immense, near-totalitarian control of the “news” upon which the majority of Americans rely to impartially inform and educate the public, as a public service in the public interest. Instead, it uses its power to propagandize and brainwash the American people in furtherance of the corporate agenda.

    This is a HUGE obstacle to creating public political support for urgent action on any number of crucial issues, from global warming, to war and peace, to health care.

  14. Rick Covert says:

    Regardlnes of whether these isolationists are crackpots they are gaining ground inch by inch. Public disatisfaction with the Obama Administration’s handling of the economy has increased. Fair or not, 5 months in or not this is public perception. Yes this collapse of the global Ponzi scheme was 30 years in the making but Obama owns it now.

    I must confess to a bit of disatisfaction with the Obama administration over its handling of mountain top removal through the EPA’s approval of 42 out of 48 mountain top removal operations. I am equally livid over a Mother Jones report that the same banks that caused the mess have successfully lobbied to get themselves a new racket in the carbon rip-offsets market. This leaves a lot of doubt in my mind if ripoffsets will ever be sunset with the banks in charge of this racket. Has your bank started lending after the vast government bailout frenzy to the banks?

    Future threats to CO2 emissions reductions could occur when gasoline prices skyrocket as they must with the decline of non-OPEC production by 30 million bbd by 2015. You can count on the recycled crazies like washed up Gingrich and Palin with their friends in the coal industry to exploit the situation, regardless of the fact that coal plants don’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the price of gasoline, they will get their permits to build more coal plants and this must be planned for before this occurs.

  15. Peter Sergienko says:

    Newt’s statement doesn’t seem all that surprising, notwithstanding the Reagan quote and the broader historical context behind various presidential declarations of global citizenship. Rather, it seems like a provocation intended to start an unproductive debate on the dictionary meaning of “citizen.” If Newt’s statement is really just re-hashing a long-held conservative principle (i.e., we will not be subject to U.N. rule), then debating on Newt’s terms doesn’t seem worth the effort.

    In terms of climate change policies, including international treaties, it seems more fruitful to engage conservatives on their own priorities and strategies for solving the problems associated with our continued reliance on fossil fuels.

    First, in terms of conservative economic and industrial priorities, we’ve just lived through eight years of conservative crony capitalism with disasterous results. Conservative deregulation put multinational corporate interests, especially the interests of Wall Street, big oil and big defense, above all other interests and to the obvious detriment to the vast majority of our citizenry. Conservative economic policies benefit a relatively small ownership class at a cost, sometimes horrific, to everyone else. Conservatives have nothing new or helpful to offer going forward. How high would unemployment go and how long would we be in a depression with no stimulus spending and more tax cuts for the wealthy?

    Second, the conservative solutions to fossil fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions problems (to the extent conservatives acknowledge the problems) are basically drill here, drill now, more nukes, and new technology. We don’t have the fossil fuel resources to solve our dependence problem and exploiting the resources we do have comes at a tremendous environmental cost. We can’t build enough nukes or develop and implement enough new technogies fast enough to reduce GHG emissions quickly enough to solve our GHG emissions problems. In short, none of the conservative solutions work.

    Make Newt defend the conservative record and conservative plans for the future.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Works for me. If he’s not a citizen of this world, that means we’re free to put him on the next probe to the outer solar system. Problem solved! ;-)

  17. Theodore says:

    I’m a citizen of the universe. Earth is merely my birth planet.