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Newt Gingrich Blames Democrats for Violence. Again.

March 26, 2010

16 years and one wife ago, Newt Gingrich blamed Democrats for Susan Smith's notorious murders of her two small children. Now, a decade and a half after blaming "Lyndon Johnson's Great Society" for Smith's drowning of her sons, the former Speaker of the House is back to declare that "the Democratic leadership has to take some moral responsibility" for escalating right-wing threats and violence. And no doubt, now as then, Newt will claim "the only way you get change is to vote Republican."
As ThinkProgress reported (audio here), Newt Gingrich like Eric Cantor is trying to pin the outbreak of violence following the passage of health care reform on its victors. Appearing at a press conference with Georgia Republican Governor Sonny Perdue, Gingrich announced:

"Just as there was no place for the kind of viciousness against Bush and Cheney, there's no place for viciousness against Democrats. I would condemn any kind of activity that involves that kind of personal threat...
I think the Democratic leadership has to take some moral responsibility for having behaved with such arrogance, in such a hostile way, that the American people are deeply upset. So let's be honest with this. This is a game that they're playing. People should not engage in personal threats. I'm happy to condemn any effort to engage in personal threats. But I think the Democratic leadership has to take some real responsibility for having run a machine that used corrupt tactics, that bought votes, that bullied people, and as a result has enraged much of the American people. And I think it'd be nice for President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid to take some responsibility over what their actions have done to this country."

If this Gingrich gambit sounds familiar, it should. Back in 1994, after dumping his cancer-stricken first wife but before marrying his mistress following the adulterous affair that ended his second marriage, Newt pointed the finger at Democrats for the Susan Smith affair.
It was Smith who drew Americans' initial sympathy - and subsequent scorn - for her invention of a black bogeyman to conceal her heinous crime.
On October 24th, 1994, as the New York Times recalled, Smith killed her young sons, killings for which she was eventually sentenced to life in prison:

That night, investigators say, Mrs. Smith pulled her car to the edge of a deep lake, stepped out, put the gearshift in drive and let it roll down the boat ramp into the black water. Her two little boys, buckled snugly in their safety seats, died under the lake...
..."I believed her, right up to the end," said Juliaette Kerhulas, of Mrs. Smith's story that a young black man had ordered her out of her burgundy 1990 Mazda on the night of Oct. 25, then driven away with 3-year-old Michael and 14-month-old Alexander in the back seat.

Ms. Kerhulas wasn't the only one who believed in her. None other than future House Speaker Newt Gingrich rushed to the defense of Smith, whose step-father ironically happened to be a prominent Republican fundraiser and member of the Christian Coalition. Even after her confession, Gingrich insisted the Smith murders showed the decay of American society under Democratic Party rule:

Enter Newt Gingrich, who rushed into action on election eve with another reliable generic culprit: society. He said the double murder "vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things," expediently adding that "the only way you get change is to vote Republican."

As Frank Rich recounted in August 1995:

Asked later by Tom Brokaw to elaborate, the Speaker-to-be cited "a direct nexus between the general acceptance of violence" and "the pattern that the counterculture and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society began in the late 60's."

And so it goes. Just in time to denounce President Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame last year, the thrice married and 2012 White House hopeful Gingrich became a Catholic. But while he has swapped Gods (and wives), Newt is still reading from the same demagogue hymnal. Congressional Democrats now in need of police protection from furious Tea Baggers, Gingrich suggested today, have no one to blame but themselves.
UPDATE: As it turns out, Newt Gingrich also laid the 1999 Columbine school shootings and the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech at the feet of "the liberal political elite."


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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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