The Sport of the Future: Mocking Newt Gingrich

Any experienced performer will tell you that one of the surest signs that an act is not going well is a “bad laugh.” That’s a laugh that comes at a moment meant to be profound or dramatic, but not meant to be funny in any way. Performing for a crowd at Harvard’s John F Kennedy School the other night, Newt Gingrich got some real bad laughs. And I think he’s going to be getting a lot more.

Newt began by showing his film, “City on a Hill.” He calls it “a documentary.” It’s not. It’s an infomercial with Newt as the Tea Party version of the “Sham Wow!” guy. Through a series of aerial shots of wheat fields from-sea-to-shining-sea, conservative talking heads and wooden stand-ups, Newt gives us his take on “American Exceptionalism.” The biggest bad laugh of the night came after one of the talking heads complained about the way American history is taught in our schools nowadays.

The doughy white man who was not Newt Gingrich mourned that our public schools no longer teach about the heroic efforts and the sacrifices that Americans made during World War Two. The talking head made it clear that he believed that because of the radical left and the pressures of political correctness, high school students today only learn about Rosie the Riveter, Hiroshima and Japanese internment camps.

At this point, the kids around me laughed. The audience, composed largely of bright young students, fresh out of high school themselves, knew from their own experience that this meme was simply not true. In fact, it was risible.

Following up on the thought after the show, I called my 23-year-old daughter Delaney and asked her what she remembered being taught about World War Two when she was in high school. She began with “Well, Normandy of course. And Pearl Harbor.” And then she went on to mention the six pointed stars that the Nazis made all the Jews wear and Anne Frank and the American liberation of concentration camps and a story about a G.I. tearfully giving a starving Jewish woman a bar of chocolate…and on and on. She never mentioned Rosie the Riveter. She wasn’t taught about the internment camps until college. She laughed too when I told her what Newt said. I would like to mention here that I am very proud of my daughter.

It seems like Newt’s real problem with his “American Exceptionalism” is that Newt believes American voters are exceptionally stupid, American students are exceptionally lazy, American media exceptionally corrupt, union members exceptionally thuggish, and workers exceptionally “entitled.”

Speaking after the film, Newt told us that his approach to fixing unemployment would involve ending unemployment insurance. Newt says we shouldn’t give people money for doing nothing. We don’t. Unemployment Insurance is just that, an insurance policy. Workers pay their own money into UEI and earn their employer contributions into UEI by working at their jobs.

Newt also seems to think that the 14.5 million unemployed people in America are out of work just because they just aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe Newt just doesn’t know about the JOLTS data: The most recent Job Opening and Labor Turnovers Survey (JOLTS) showed that there were 3.4 million job openings in the whole country. The most recent unemployment report showed that the total number of unemployed people in America is 13.9 million. So,do the math. If every single job opening in America was somehow miraculously filled tomorrow, there would still be 10.5 million people for whom there was just no job, nowhere, no how.

Over the weekend, Newt said another laughably stupid thing in Iowa: “The degree to which the left is prepared to impose intolerance and to drive out of existence traditional religion is a mortal threat to our civilization.”

He said this just as malls were beginning to put up their Christmas decorations. He said this even though all of the GOP Presidential candidates except Mormons Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsmen went out to Iowa this weekend to make a big show of their faith. He said this even though survey after survey shows that the United States is the most religious nation in the industrialized world.

Yes, big-brained Newt Gingrich is getting a lot of bad laughs these days for saying things that are so flat out silly and stupid; even kids laugh at him. And with his new rise in the polls, he will be getting more attention, saying more silly things, and earning more bad laughs. And soon enough, Newt’s presidential hopes will slowly wither and die, killed by a widespread and well deserved epidemic of “Newt Mocking.”

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