Newt Gingrich has helped lead the conservative effort to politicize the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day. Since the failed attack, he has called for “profiling” and asserted that Republican political campaigns should get a “boost” from the incident.
Last night, in an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, Gingrich tried to skewer the Obama administration for reading Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged Christmas day terrorist, his Miranda rights. Stewart noted that the Bush administration had also informed the shoe bomber Richard Reid of his Miranda rights. Gingrich justified his double standard by claiming that the circumstance was different because Reid was “an American citizen.” Stewart took the extra step of returning after commercial break to correct Gingrich — Reid was a British citizen:
GINGRICH: The American people doesn’t understand reading Miranda rights to terrorists in Detroit when its fairly obvious they’re terrorists. […]
STEWART: Didn’t they [the Bush administration] do the same with Richard Reid, the shoe bomber.
GINGRICH: Richard Reid was an American citizen.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
Gingrich has a long history of twisting national security to fit his political agenda. For instance, as the Wonk Room has noted, Gingrich has based much of his fearmongering against Iran and other countries on a fictional thriller novel he read. And while he prides himself as a historical expert, Gingrich constantly gets his history wrong. Last year, he falsely claimed that U.S. Presidents don’t “smile and greet” Russian leaders. Photographic evidence suggests otherwise.
Listening to Gingrich lambaste the Obama administration over and over again as “radical,” Stewart noted that Gingrich seemed to inject great emotion into his arguments. Gingrich quickly agreed, “It’s part of my job, to reach out to the emotions of the American public.” Stewart then responded wryly, “I think that’s wise, and don’t let reality get in the way.”
Today on Twitter, Gingrich admitted that he was wrong on the Daily Show, but added that it didn’t really matter: “On daily show was wrong re: ShoeBomber citizenship, was thinking of Padilla. Treating terrorists like criminals wrong no matter who is Pres.”