Standing on its own, Newt Gingrich’s latest critique of Mitt Romney–he speaks French!–is . . . well, I would say that it has a certain je ne sais quoi about it, but I think that it would be more accurate to call the critique “stupid.”
Gingrich being Gingrich, however, he had to compound the stand-alone stupidity with a total lack of self-awareness:
Gingrich’s 1971 dissertation – “Belgian Education Policy in the Congo 1945-1960” — contains a multitude of sources in French in his bibliography.
In total, Gingrich relied upon 143 French-language sources to write his dissertation — including 18 “public documents,” 90 books, 33 published articles and 2 unpublished documents.
He also conducted 8 “private interviews” in Belgium during the course of his research, although the language that he used wasn’t specified in the bibliography. Belgium’s officials languages are French, German and Dutch.
To consider all possibilities, Gingrich either knew French (which makes his attack on Romney entirely and unbelievably hypocritical), or he wrote a dissertation regarding an African country where French is spoken, which was colonized by a country which has French as one of its three official languages, and included 143 French-language sources and 8 interviews in his dissertation, without knowing a lick of French (which would raise concerns about the competence with which he wrote his dissertation). In either event, Gingrich actually attacked Romney for knowing a foreign language. That’s right, his criticism is that Romney possesses actual knowledge regarding a skill set that many employers value. A skill set that sets apart those who possess it as being relatively intelligent, sophisticated, cultured, civilized, and educated. It boggles the mind.
It ought to be clear by now that Gingrich’s campaign is being fueled by personal pique. He hates Romney, and is willing to do whatever he can to damage him, irrespective of the damage that he does to the Republican party, and its 2012 presidential prospects. He’s attacked capitalism to get at Romney, and now he has decided to open a second front against polyglots. I hope that Republicans remember what Gingrich’s idea of party loyalty is, and ensure that they pay him back in kind for the incredible pettiness he has decided to show during the course of this campaign.