Another GOP debate has come and gone, and there’s a clear consensus on who won and who lost this round. After two fabulously bombastic debate performances, Newt Gingrich was defeated by the one man he can never seem to beat: himself.
Ultimately, Newt’s problem is just being Newt. It always has been, because the real Newt bears a strong resemblance the one portrayed in his opponents attack ads.
Even before the South Carolina primary, fellow Republicans who remembered his erratic rule as Speaker started poking holes in Newt’s hot air balloon. After South Carolina, Newt’s surge brought even more big-name Republicans off the bench. Bob Dole, in a statement published in the National Review, said that “Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall,” and recalled Newt’s spectacular fall to earth from his speakership.
Gingrich served as Speaker from 1995 to 1999 and had trouble within his own party. By 1997 a number of House Republican members wanted to throw him out as Speaker. But he hung on until after the 1998 elections when Newt could read the writing on the wall. His mounting ethics problems caused him to resign in early 1999. I know whereof I speak as I helped establish a line of credit of $150,000 to help Newt pay off the fine for his ethics violations. In the end, he paid the fine with money from other sources.
Gingrich had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall. He loved picking a fight with President Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press. This and a myriad of other specifics like shutting down the government helped to topple Gingrich in 1998.
Come to think of it, not only does Newt’s latest big idea have a distinctly “off the wall” quality that suggests he couldn’t have thought it through, but it may not even be his idea. Not originally, anyway.
David Frum highlights a Newt takedown from Ann Coulter.
Politico rounds up the sudden right-of-center media drop on Gingrich, including this line from Ann Coulter:
“Hotheaded arrogance is neither conservative nor attractive to voters.”
When Ann Coulter is criticizing you for “hotheaded arrogance,” it’s like Rosie O’Donnell recommending anger management. It’s pretty much over.
As David Frum notes in the post quoted above, it’s pretty much true. it’s been true for all these years. Like I said earlier, when it come to Newt, the truth hurts. And not just the truth about Newt. Whatever secret cache of documents Nancy Pelosi may or may not have notwithstanding, we all pretty much know the truth about Newt. Like I said earlier, what’s making conservatives nervous is the truth about Newt just reveals the truth about Republicans.
When not holding forth from his favorite table at L’Auberge Chez François, nestled among the manor houses of lobbyist-thick Great Falls, Va., Dr. Newton L. Gingrich likes to lecture people about food stamps and how out-of-touch the elites are with real America.
Gingrich, as he showed in a gasping effort in Thursday night’s debate in Florida, is a demagogue distilled, like a French sauce, to the purest essence of the word’s meaning. He has no shame. He thinks the rules do not apply to him. And he turns questions about his odious personal behavior into mock outrage over the audacity of the questioner.
After inventing, and then perfecting, the modern politics of personal destruction, Gingrich has decided now to bank on the dark fears of the worst element of the Republican base to seize the nomination — using skills refined over four decades.
Not all the news is necessarily bad for Newt. He’s garnered support from Republicans share some of his troublesome traits. Former Rep. Randy Cunningham endorsed Newt from prison, where he’s serving a 100-month sentence after being convicted in one of the largest congressional corruption cases ever. Unfortunately, Cunningham noted, the endorsement would probably do Newt more harm than good. On the upside, he added that Newt would have about 80% of the incarcerated felon vote locked down — if they could vote.
If Cunningham’s endorsement isn’t enough good news, fellow bomb-thrower Sarah “Blood Libel” Palin came to Newt’s defense, accusing the media of attempting to “crucify” Newt.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin continued to stand up for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Thursday, saying that the recent character assault launched by conservatives against him was a case of the establishment trying to “crucify” the former House speaker.
“Look at Newt Gingrich, what’s going on with him via the establishment’s attacks. They’re trying to crucify this man and rewrite history and rewrite what it is that he has stood for all these years,” Palin told Fox Business Network’s John Stossel after weighing on Ron Paul’s candidacy. “So it’s not just Ron Paul. I believe it’s also Newt Gingrich, that the establishment, that the liberal media, certainly that the progressives and the Democrats don’t like.”
It sounds like the former governor is as blind to reality as the former speaker. It’s not the “liberal media” or “establishment,” that’s worried about Newt getting the Republican nomination. In fact, some progressives are almost giddy about the possibility of President Obama running against Newt. (Robert Reich makes a good case for why no responsible progressive or Democrat should wish for Gingrich to top the GOP ticket.)
It’s Republicans who are scared to death about that possibility. They know Newt very well, that’s why they can attack him wielding only the truth. They know that nobody has to destroy Newt, because given enough time Newt will self-destruct. They just don’t want him to take the party down with him, when he implodes. If Republicans sought to speed up that implosion, to get it out of the way, it’s starting to look like they’re succeeding.