Jon Stewart has a riff about how some people think that adding "No disrespect" to something they say can make even the most offensive statements acceptable. "Your mother's a whore -- no disrespect." That's essentially the position Newt Gingrich is taking. On the one hand, he has a new book out, which is all about how Barack Obama's "secular-socialist machine" is a greater threat to America than Hitler or Stalin were. On the other hand, he still wants to remain a member of polite political society. So we get this (from Think Progress):

Newt Gingrich sat down with the Des Moines Register editorial board this week to discuss his new book To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine. Right at the start of the interview, a Register editor asked if Gingrich thinks “voters are stupid since they elected President Obama in 2008.” The former Speaker walked back the entire premise of his book. “The whole question of the scale of change has nothing to do with Obama,” he said.

Later in the hour-long interview, Gingrich backtracked even further. “I’m not here saying Obama is the bad guy and if he wasn’t there things would be good.” Soon after, the Register editor called Gingrich out:

DMR EDITOR: I was really taken aback by something you just said, in that “I”m not here saying Obama is the bad guy.” In your book you say, “The President’s secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” That sure sounds like you think he’s a bad guy with bad ideas.

In other words, Gingrich's message is, President Obama is as bad as Hitler -- no disrespect. Imagine that it's 2006, and a Democratic politician thinking about running for president was going around saying George W. Bush was as dangerous as Hitler. We know what would happen -- he would immediately be dismissed by the press corps as a left-wing kook whose absurd views rendered him unfit to be taken seriously. Think that'll happen to Gingrich? Me neither.

-- Paul Waldman

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