Photo: Pete Souza via Wikimedia
Newt Gingrich is now suddenly the candidate to beat Mitt Romney. And conservatives are said to be “salivating” at the chance of watching him debate President Obama. But the truth is that a Newt Gingrich nomination would be a disaster for the Republican party: He cannot win.
And it would be a major setback to conservative causes, because Newt Gingrich tarnishes the right’s ideals with his obvious corruption.
Let’s take those two one at a time.
He cannot win:
The New Hampshire Union Leader credits Newt Gingrich with engineering the 1994 Republican Revolution when Republicans took their first majority in Congress in 50 years and Newt ascended to the role of Speaker.
But Gingrich deserves more credit for ship-wrecking that Revolution. Within just two years, Newt Gingrich shut-down the government and his approval rating dropped to just 25 per cent. It never recovered.
By 1997, Gingrich was facing dozens of ethics charges. Although many of them were dismissed, he was fined an unprecedented $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee (still run by Republicans at the time), and admitted to giving “inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee.” Newt did this precisely during a time he was trying to impeach the president for perjury.
The one recurring pattern in Newt Gingrich’s career is that he is simultaneously doing the very thing he is accusing his political opponents of doing.
Newt’s personal baggage is either weird or scary. He married his high-school geometry teacher. He cheated on her and divorced her while she had cancer. So he married Marianne Ginther six months later. But that wasn’t to last.
Gingrich conducted a tawdry affair behind her back with one of his staffers while making political hay out of Clinton’s affair with a White House intern. He then divorced Marianne and married the staffer.
One under pressure, he became a ball of uncontrolled anger to the point where his staff told the press, “He’s a sociopath. But he’s our sociopath.”
In the great battle of the 1990s – Clinton left office as one of the most popular presidents in history. Gingrich left Capitol Hill disgraced and disowned. And he became a highly-paid lobbyist. And that’s where the next part of the story comes.
He is not a conservative:
Being “a conservative” isn’t part of Newt Gingrich’s convictions, it’s his business. It’s like a brand identity he uses to sell books to readers, and sell himself to lobbyists in Washington.
How can conservatives be confused about this? Gingrich dismissed the Paul Ryan’s vision for entitlement-reform. He says he would have supported TARP, the very Congressional outrage that inspired the Tea Party movement. He supports an unworkable form of amnesty for illegal immigrants – the same policy that made conservatives detest George W. Bush.
In the last decade he took $1.5 million dollars from Freddie Mac in order to promote Freddie Mac’s crazy mortgage schemes among conservative lawmakers. Then he absurdly claimed he was simply acting as a hired historian. Worse, he compounded this offence by telling other candidates that they should return money donated to them by Freddie Mac after the housing bust.
There he goes again, accusing others of doing almost exactly as he did.
Gingrich was a paid lobbyist for Big PharMa during the debates about Medicare Part-D, the huge prescription drug entitlement enacted by President Bush.
Most striking he supports the central plank of Romney and Obama’s health-care reform: the individual mandate that citizens buy health insurance or face legal penalties. (This part of the law is currently being subjected to Supreme Court scrutiny)
The whole point of finding a conservative alternative to Mitt Romney was that the incredible unpopular Obamacare was patterned after his reforms in Massachusetts. But judged on his own contributions to political debate on health care, Newt Gingrich may as well be credited as a co-author of this same reform.
William F. Buckley Jr. once said that it was the task of conservative movement to support “the most conservative electable candidate.” Gingrich is neither. He is no more conservative than Mitt Romney. And he’s much less electable.
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