Steve Benen notes the line from Saturday night’s GOP debate which struck him as most important:
The quote came from Newt Gingrich, who condemned the very idea of a secular state. "A country that has been now since 1963 relentlessly in the courts driving God out of public life shouldn't be surprised at all the problems we have," the thrice-married, serial adulterer said. "Because we've in fact attempted to create a secular country, which I think is frankly a nightmare."
Benen makes some good points reacting to the quote itself, noting for example that it was the Founding Fathers who created a secular country and suggesting that if Newt would like a theocracy he might see how things work in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
But it raised another question for me, specifically as relates to each party’s spin machine. How would the conservative echo chamber react if Barack Obama made a similar statement? I imagine you’d see a lot of outraged headlines similar to the one adorning this blog post, though perhaps not as consciously written to exaggerate to make a point.
If you doubt it just look at the GOP’s latest talking point, that President Obama called Americans “lazy” in a speech at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Republicans are lying on this count—the quotation is taken dramatically out of context--the president was suggesting that U.S. policymakers have been lazy about selling this country to businesses. (This is an imperfect analogy as it is much easier to read Gingrich's comment as being condemnatory of the country than it is to find a blanket assertion of American laziness in Obama's speech.)
So to answer my own question if the Democratic spin machine was as efficient and dishonest as the GOP’s has proven to be, we’d see a stream of condemnations of Gingrich for calling America a “nightmare.”