No, not the one by Karel Čapek, but the one going on in the Republican primaries.

As the weeks of dueling sound bites and one-upmanship ground on, there were some comical moments.   Whether it was Romney worrying about pink slips, Gingrich’s excessive patriotism that led to his slips in his marital vows, or Santorum’s slip that overloading the planet with greenhouse gasses is good for the plants.

But, sometimes, a candidate gets on the phone with NPR and thinks he can bluff his way through the interview, dodging questions and the like.

Enter Newt Gingrich earlier this week.

Inskeep asked Gingrich if he thought he should pull out since the former Speaker offered just that advice back in 1996 to those running behind the front runner.  Newt’s response?  Well he has no incentive to get out because he “cares about the future of the party.”  Apparently, those in 1996 didn’t care enough.

Then Inskeep asked Newt if his criticisms of the President and global oil prices were valid. Gingrich says of course they’re valid because of simple supply and demand–drill more domestically (and don’t “bait Saudi Arabia to pump more”) and the prices will drop.  Inskeep countered with the facts that under Obama, domestic production has gone up and we import less foreign oil than we have in a decade (the opposite trends under the previous administration), and yet the prices are not dropping.  Newt counters that all that new supply is due to private enterprises, not Obama, and that the U.S. could be the world’s leading oil producer.  Never mind that 1) supply is supply, and where it comes from would be irrelevant to driving down global prices (if that’s all it took), and 2) the U.S. simply is not sitting on enough oil to become the largest producer.  Both are factually wrong and show how fallacious his argument about gas prices is.

Some of Gingrich’s other statements also reveal what is so wrong with the direction of our politics.  Following up on the gas prices question, Inskeep asks the former Speaker if the price of oil (and thus gas) isn’t really related to the tensions and conflicts in the Middle East.  Newt responds: ” But there wouldn’t have to be tensions in the Middle East if we were deliberately producing enough oil that we didn’t care about the Middle East.”  So we really are fighting for oil over there, not freedom, democracy, or any other high-brow motivation.  Unfortunately, I’m quite sure that this is mostly true.

Earlier, citing Gingrich’s only hope as preventing Romney from getting a majority, Newt’s response was: “And it’s also clear that Governor Romney has so much money that he can grind his way towards the nomination, despite all that.”  So, in other words, elections aren’t really about ideas, character, or who is the best candidate.  They’re mostly about who has enough money to grind his opponents into dust.  Again, that is mostly true and why we’re in desperate need of campaign finance reform.

But, of course, Newt’s spurious logic is not confined to phone calls to NPR.

Also earlier this week, Robert De Niro–that overrated actor–made a joke about the country not being ready for a white first lady should one of the Republicans win.  Newt demanded that President Obama apologize for De Niro because it was said at a fundraiser for the President.


Newt went on to clarify that if the “left want to talk about talk show hosts,” then “everyone in the country ought to hold the President accountable” when someone at his event says something.


So in Newt’s “mind,” a person on a national forum saying something degrading about a woman is as culpable as a fundraising host because the latter’s guest said something obviously satirical.  Yup, that almost makes sense…in a Čapek novel!

Of course, Newt doesn’t have the monopoly on spurious logic or even living as if he’s in a fictional world.

Take Rick Santorum.

Apparently the “defender of Homeland Security via denying gays the right to marriage” thinks Obama should not allow his daughter to go to Mexico for spring break because the State Department issued warnings for other parts of the country.  Santorum goes on to say that the President “is not above the law.”  Which is a fair point.  Except of course, that a State Department warning is not a law, especially when the warning is not relevant to that part of the country being visited.

But hey, why let facts get in the way of rhetoric?  I mean, voters do fall for this nonsense all the time.

Sorry for the cynical week-ender, but sometimes our broken political system just proves to be too ludicrous for me to ignore.