The media (temporarily) discover that Newt Gingrich is an extremist

Once again, Newt Gingrich has said something so breathtakingly stupid and nasty that the media can't politely overlook it. But don't worry: They'll go back to treating him as a serious thinker soon enough. That's how it always works with Newt -- which is why some media figures are currently expressing shock that Gingrich would say that President Obama is engaged in “Kenyan” behavior.

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, for example, is “amazed that Newt Gingrich said Obama has a Kenyan view of politics. Not exactly subtle.”

Really? Newt Gingrich's lack of subtlety amazes Howard Kurtz? Newt Gingrich?

This is a man who made a name for himself by urging his fellow Republicans to step up the invective by describing Democrats as “anti-flag,” “pathetic,” “sick,” “traitors” who “betray” … well, Newt didn't say who they “betray,” but it's safe to assume he meant “their country,” given that he was also calling them “traitors.” This is a man who tried to blame Democrats for Susan Smith murdering her children -- and who attacked Nancy Pelosi as “the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I've seen in my lifetime. She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowest of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior.” But Howard Kurtz is amazed that Gingrich's attacks on Barack Obama aren't subtle.

Earlier this year, Gingrich compared the Obama administration to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Park51 supporters,according to Gingrich, are like Nazis, too. But Howard Kurtz is amazed that Gingrich's latest swipe at Obama lacks subtlety.

In June, Gingrich claimed Obama “doesn't have any particular sense of being American” -- but Howard Kurtz just can't believeNewt would say Obama has a “Kenyan view of politics.”

Kurtz certainly isn't alone among reporters in refusing to see Newt Gingrich for the vitriolic nut that he obviously is. For some reason, the news media insists on taking him seriously and treating him as a deep thinker, despite a decades-long track record of nastiness, dishonesty, and hypocrisy.

He has specialized, perhaps more than any other modern political leader, in the kind of nasty and divisive rhetoric that usually causes the Beltway establishment to marginalize the speaker as shrill and unserious.

He's a serial vow-breaker who rose to and maintained power by accusing his political opponents of immorality. He was the first Speaker of the House ever disciplined by the House of Representatives for unethical behavior. He blazed the cheating-on-your-cancer-stricken-wife path for John Edwards, but unlike Edwards, hasn't suffered any consequences for it. He shut down the federal government because Bill Clinton didn't give him a good seat on Air Force One.

His 1996 Republican National Convention speech was one of the most widely-ridiculed speeches by a major public figure in memory -- even the co-author of his first book as Speaker hasn't “quite gotten over” it. (Actual excerpt: “A mere 40 years ago, beach volleyball was just beginning. … No bureaucrat would have invented it. And that's what freedom is all about.”)

I can't think of anyone who has inspired more articles and essays that stipulate to the intelligence of their subject while describing or denouncing something stupid he did or said. Why is everyone so quick to stipulate to Gingrich's intelligence? Is it simply because, unlike Sarah Palin and George W. Bush, he doesn't frequently misuse or invent words? Or because of his deep insights about giraffe-hunting and infections? Or his endorsement of Sarah Palin's “death panel” lie?

This is a “deep thinker” who actually thinks the U.S. should take Saudi Arabia's lead when it comes to religious tolerance. I am not exaggerating; that's what he said: “There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.”

But don't forget to stipulate to his intelligence! Newt's a very serious person who deserves to be a regular guest on Sunday political shows.