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11/14/2011
NEWT’S PECCADILLOS: POLITICAL AND PRIVATE

This post originally appeared in March of 2007 when Gingrich was contemplating getting into the 2008 race. I thought it would be a good idea, given Newt’s recent surge upwards in the polls, to remind us all why Gingrich would be slaughtered in any one on one presidential contest and why if he did happened to get elected, why his presidency would be a disaster.

* * * * * * * * * *

I must confess to having a great admiration for the oratorical and intellectual gifts of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. No doubt about it, Newt is an “idea man” - suffused with a passion and curiosity about government, about the world around him to the point that ideas pour forth from his supple and inquisitive mind in a rapid fire fashion reminiscent of the staccato bursts from a machine gun.

Let me make clear that Newt doesn’t do nuance. The dirty details of how to put his ideas into actionable form he leaves to others while he moves on to the next challenge. A former staff member explains:

A former aide, Ladonna Lee, said “He would always get people started on a project or a vision, and we’re all slugging up the mountain to accomplish it. Newt’s nowhere to be found…He’s gone on to the next mountaintop.”

Former Congressman and personal friend Vin Weber said pretty much the same thing:

“I never saw a lot of crackpot ideas. I saw a lot of good ideas. But there was difficulty in assessing a cost-benefit ratio. Even if every idea is good, resources are limited. With Newt, it didn’t matter if we were overreaching, we had to do everything.”

This is basically why nearly two years ago I wrote a piece entitled “Please Don’t Run, Newt.” Gingrich is a man whose calling is probably in the classroom or perhaps as a back bench legislator. Because what becomes clear after listening to one of his jaw-dropping presentations where ideas flow like the riffs created by a good blues guitarist, seamlessly moving from topic to topic with a breathtaking rhetorical ease, is that Newt is not executive material. In fact, he would be a disaster - a coherent Carter where his Administration would start down one road only to be sidetracked as President Gingrich discovered some other shiny intellectual bauble that would distract him from his course and doom his initiative.

And then, there’s his personal baggage.

Like many of the great conceptualizers, Gingrich sees his own personal morality as a fluidic creation. He is able to rationalize many of his foibles as sacrifices to the cause. That’s right; Gingrich, as many before him, see straying from the straight and narrow as just one of the burdens he must bear in order for him to give the world the benefit of his ideas and intellect.

No where is that more clear than in this interview he did with the TV evangelist James Dobson where the former Speaker and Clinton nemesis reveals that he had an extra-marital affair at the time he was pursuing the impeachment of the President:

“The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge,” the former Georgia congressman said of Clinton’s 1998 House impeachment on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. “I drew a line in my mind that said, ‘Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being, as a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept … perjury in your highest officials.”

Suffering for the greater good of impeaching Clinton while enjoying the ill gotten fruits of a relationship outside of his marriage? I don’t know any other way to read that except that Gingirch feels himself a victim of his own moral failings. Drawing a line in one’s mind between public and private morality is not new in politics. But to basically be accusing someone of doing so and then enjoying the advantages yourself of such moral schizophrenia is almost beyond belief.

Michelle Malkin:

We are all, as I said earlier today, fallible people. And conservatives are willing to forgive. Whether they’ll buy into Gingrich as the best standard-bearer for the party and most deserving candidate for commander-in-chief–as opposed to anything more than the quick-thinking debater, cable TV guest, and lecturer that he now is–is another matter.

Indeed, as Malkin shows, Gingrich has negative vs. positive ratings that make Hillary look positively unbeatable:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Part of that is almost certainly the fact that people remember Gingrich as one of the most polarizing political figures in recent memory. And it also could be due to a list of ethical lapses that call into question his fitness for any office, high or otherwise:

1. Bouncing 22 checks in the House Banking scandal.

2. A 1984 book deal backed by campaign contributors and put together in his district office using taxpayer money.

3. Financial irregularities with Gingrich’s personal Political Action Committee GOPAC.

4. Use of tax exempt groups (the Abraham Lincoln Opportunity Foundation for one) to fund a TV program on grassroots political activism.

5. A multi-million dollar advance for a book deal with Rupert Murdoch that gave rise to charges of hypocrisy on Gingrich’s part because it was the same thing he accused ousted Democratic House Speaker Jim Wright of doing.

And the story of his divorce from his first wife - where the Congressman filed for the split while his wife was lying in a hospital bed battling cancer:

After the separation in 1980, she had to be operated on again, to remove another tumor While she was still in the hospital, according to [Lee] Howell (former press secretary), “Newt came up there with his yellow legal pad, and he had a list of things on how the divorce was going to be handled. He wanted her to sign it. She was still recovering from surgery, still sort of out of it, and he comes in with a yellow sheet of paper, handwritten, and wants her to sign it.

No. I can forgive many peccadilloes in a man both personal and political. But that doesn’t mean I think he would make a good president. And in Newt’s case, his curious sense of personal morality along with his inability to stay focused on one goal at a time would doom his candidacy in the general election and doom his presidency even if he were to be elected.

I think this latest revelation means that he has resigned himself to not running for president in 2008. Only overarching hubris would allow him to think that he could not only win the nomination but get himself elected. And I think all Republicans should breathe a sigh of relief if this is so.

UPDATE

Ed Morrissey has it about right:

Gingrich didn’t commit perjury. However, Gingrich had the affair with his staffer at the same time he pursued Clinton’s impeachment for perjuring himself about sex with an intern. Given that Republicans made a great deal of noise about Clinton’s sexual escapades with an employee/volunteer in the Oval Office itself, that comparison is not completely apples to oranges.

Especially when the left will ignore - as they always have - the perjury of Clinton and concentrate on the sexcapades. It was one of the more successful PR operations in the last decade to formulate The Narrative that demonized Starr, accused Republicans of hypocrisy for their failings in staying true to their wives, while completely obfuscating the base charges against Clinton.

Brilliant work.

By: Rick Moran at 2:42 pm
33 Responses to “NEWT’S PECCADILLOS: POLITICAL AND PRIVATE”
  1. 1
    RiverRat Said:
    8:17 am 

    Newt is a brilliant government gadfly but he’s not a governator. He might make a decent VP and policy proponent with a healthy and vibrant CinC.

    Is there a roll of value in the Whitehouse for a VP of product development and marketing? Chief Policy Advisor?

    He’d probably be better off continuing to do what he’s doing now, but it sure would be entertaining to watch him make chopped liver of other overscripted dunderheads in candidate debates, especially bipartisan candidate debates.

  2. 2
    Dale in Atlanta Said:
    8:32 am 

    Rick: Nice one! Despite what some may think of my postings in the past, I am NOT a “conservative” nor a “Republican”.

    I’m proud to say, I’m a registered Independent, and most importantly for me, I’m an American!

    Everything else is secondary!

    That said, I’ve never liked “Newt”!

    Didn’t like him in ‘94, didn’t like him in 2000, don’t like him now!

    Of course, if my only choices were Newt vs. Hillary, or Newt vs. Obama, well, those are not really choices, are they?

    But, I hope it never comes to that!

    As far as Clinton’s sexcapades; I realized the Leftists ONLY see the “sex”; hell, I’ve had my own pecadillos, and I’ve been divorced once, and NO, I’m NOT a hypocrite for advocating the impeachment of Clinton, who, by the way, I voted for!

    Even if I, and Newt, had an extra-marital affair, we did NOT lie under oath, and we did not do the myriad of other slimey, illegal things that the Clinton White House, did!

    Sorry, I CAN, and DO draw that line!

    If Bill Clinton had taken Monica out to a Super 8 Motel, and banged her lights out, and then admitted it later, frankly, I wouldn’t have given a damn!

    He didn’t do that; he was the President of the United States, the Chief Executive of this country, and the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the United States!

    END OF DISCUSSION!

    And Newt, is a slimeball, and I’m glad he’s not running; and he’s not slime because of his extra-marital affair, he’s a slimeball because of all the corrupt stuff he’s done!

  3. 3
    Duffy Said:
    8:38 am 

    Newt is very shrewd and very pragmatic. I doubt he’s delusional to think he can turn around negatives that high by election day. I can only surmise he’s positioning himself for a cabinet position for whomever wins.

  4. 4
    kreiz Said:
    9:19 am 

    Well said, Rick. But the Reverend Jackson said it in 25 words or less: he’s a tree shaker, not a jelly maker. Shutting down the federal government permitted his agile opponent, Pres. Clinton (and D. Morris), to pivot, turn and capture the debate. Newt never saw it coming.

  5. 5
    PD Said:
    10:07 am 

    Let me get this straight: when a Democrat perjures himself and obstructs justice we must uphold the law, yet when another high ranking (but Republican) official does the same we should look the other way?

    I know different situation, blah blah. Obviously I don’t agree with that notion.

    As someone you’d label from the left, I happen to not have a problem with Gingrich persuing Impeachment over perjury and obstruction. Let’s also not forget that Clinton did almost get booted and he did lose his law license and had to pay fines for the mess he got himself into. He was punished and rightly so. Nobody is above the law. Now the way the GOP played politics with the sexual angle of Clinton’s mess, well to be honest that’s the way they play the game in DC. Sure it makes Newt look a bit hypocritcal, and let’s face it the sex angle didn’t do anything to alter Clinton’s approval ratings, if anything people rallied around the President. So basically my ramble is trying to get to the point that Newt’s affairs are irrelevant, at least in my “leftist” opinion.

  6. 6
    The Heretik : Standard BS Pinged With:
    10:44 am 

    [...] There are standards. And then there are standards. Then there is the standard BS. Standards really are for other people. Honestly. New Gingrich was in the middle of an extramarital affair when he was busy attacking Bill Clinton and his business with Monica Lewinsky. “The honest answer is yes,” Gingrich, a potential 2008 Republican presidential candidate, said in an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson to be aired Friday, according to a transcript provided to The Associated Press. “There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There’s certainly times when I’ve fallen short of God’s standards.” [...]

  7. 7
    Ruh Roh v. Newt Admits Cheating - The Liberty Lounge Political Forums Pinged With:
    10:58 am 

    [...] It’s the same strategy lawyers use in having their own witnesses confess to bad deeds on direct examination instead of waiting for it to come out in cross. Makes it look like contrition, even though it isn’t. But at least we know now he’s thinking seriously of running. Otherwise, why admit it in the first place? I don’t think he stands a chance. The media hates him and the public is weary of polarizing figures, which explains 90% of Obama’s appeal vis-a-vis Hillary. Plus, as the face of the 1994 GOP takeover, Newt is a symbol of Republican hegemony. That’s why we love him, and that’s also why the public at this particular point in history is going to be skittish. If anyone benefits from this announcement, I’d say it’s Romney. The more the public finds out about Giuliani’s and Gingrich’s peccadilloes, the more comparatively attractive Mitt becomes. If his camp’s willing to play dirty, I’d expect them to go after McCain’s indiscretions and make the case even clearer to morals voters that there’s only one choice for them among the major candidates. Then again, Mitt’s got bigger things to worry about. Moran’s got a solid rundown of Newt’s problems including the notorious fact about him filing for divorce while his wife was hospitalized with cancer, which, incredibly, makes Rudy’s breakup with Donna Hanover at a press conference only the second-tackiest marital crackup on the GOP side. And speaking of Rudy, Reuters has a stupid hit piece on him out today quoting New York leftists still traumatized by their time in the Giuliani gulag. They’d better sob louder if they want to drown out the boost this will give him. [...]

  8. 8
    milo Said:
    11:26 am 

    The “left” does not “ignore…the perjury of Clinton.” Sane people recognize that the Constitution of the United States says that the President may be impeached and convicted only for high crimes and misdemeanors.

  9. 9
    ed Said:
    12:21 pm 

    What do you suppose Newt would have done if he had been asked publically about having an affair during the Clinton impeachment timeframe? If your answer is anything other than “lie his ass off”, you are listening to too much talk radio for your own good.

  10. 10
    Kyle Said:
    12:36 pm 

    “It was one of the more successful PR operations in the last decade to formulate The Narrative that demonized Starr, accused Republicans of hypocrisy for their failings in staying true to their wives, while completely obfuscating the base charges against Clinton.”

    Monica! Monica! Monica!

    How did Democrats ever give the public the idea that the Clinton mess was all about sex? Well, it had something to do with all the noise Republicans made about Clinton having sex.

    The right’s little dodge backfired and now they want to pretend they were all warriors on behalf of the law and the Constitution. Meanwhile, the rest of us get to read about the prosecutor purge, FBI overreach, and — wait for it — the possibility of a pardon for Scooter Libby, convicted perjurer.

  11. 11
    Sensible Mom Trackbacked With:
    12:38 pm 

    Gingrich Can’t Win

    there’s no way Gingrich is going to get elected even if he says all the right things. You see, he’s shifty and sleazy and slickness is never forgiven in or accepted by republicans.

  12. 12
    David Terrenoire Said:
    1:12 pm 

    My favorite Gingrich story was when Susan Smith drowned her two boys and Newt blamed liberals and the culture of the left for her craziness. That is, until it came out that she had been sexually abused by her father, a Bible-beater and prominent Republican.

  13. 13
    Matt Keller Said:
    2:28 pm 

    Rick,

    Keep in mind you’re looking at Newt from a very specific lens, that of just Speaker Gingrich. A Gingrich Presidency would not just consist of him and him alone, but of cabinet members, advisors and a Vice President. All of these people would in a collective sense be able to shape and mold the unfettered lightning that is Speaker Gingrich’s ideas.

    Because his ideas are good ideas those advisors would help shape what starts as an idea into reality. If Speaker Gingrich has one idea for each branch of the cabinet and the heads of those dept. turn into the executors of that idea, then it doesn’t matter that he has all these ideas. Each one will be focused appropriately by the effort and will of those around that specific idea.

    I would invite you to visit our website:

    http://www.draftnewt.org

    We are an ever growing group of people at the grassroots level who seek a Gingrich Presidential bid. I hope that what you see there eases some of your concerns, and if you have questions or comments don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Sincerely,

    Matt Keller
    Media Outreach Manager
    Draft Newt

  14. 14
    Al in St. Lou Said:
    2:57 pm 

    What the heck does “does the same thing” mean to you, PD? Do you even know what “perjures” means?

  15. 15
    Rick Moran Said:
    4:10 pm 

    Matt:

    Thanks for your comment.

    I have thought long and hard about Mr. Gingrich - clearly the leading conservative public intellectual in America and a dynamic presence on the political stage.

    I frankly find his ethics wanting and some of his positions troubling. But as I said in the piece I wrote in 2005, I will gladly stop whatever I’m doing to listen to what he has to say and buy any book he writes. There is no one in America today who presents such compelling arguments for the conservative cause.

    I’d be glad to be part of any mailing list you might have that updates Mr. Gingrich’s activities.

  16. 16
    His Frogness Said:
    5:03 pm 

    I disagree with the assessment of Newt. You’ve characterized him as a flighty dreamer who has no ability to see things through. Well what about the Contract with America? That was a huge accomplishment. He didn’t implement the thing single-handedly but, as president, you don’t do anything single-handedly. And that in itself shows that, through teamwork and collaboration, he is very capable of seeing things through.

    I like Newt for the same reasons I liked Reagan; he’s a visionary and a communicator. If you ask me, that’s precisely what we need in America right now. His presentations of late have hit the nail on the head, in my opinion. I agree with him that we can’t expect to have a functional working government in its current form. It needs a lot of modifications which is the last thing Washington wants to hear.

    America got behind Reagan because of his speeches, his optimism, his faith in the country. It wasn’t his policies but the way he articulated them.

    If Newt enters, I’m voting for him :)

  17. 17
    His Frogness Said:
    5:07 pm 

    I realize now that I pretty much reiterated what Matt said. I do apologize :)

  18. 18
    ed Said:
    5:09 pm 

    The odds of a Gingrich presidency are about the same as a Francis the Talking Mule Kentucky Derby win.

  19. 19
    bloodstomper Said:
    5:11 pm 

    The only positive thing that came out of the Lewinsky Affair was the discovery that John Goodman was a better Linda Tripp than the actual beast herself.

  20. 20
    legaleagle Said:
    6:20 pm 

    Newt is the perfect complement to vicious authoritarian thugs like Cheney and Rumsfeld, and is the living embodiment of the corruption, the arrogance, and seething bigotry of the Republican Party. Naturally, he is adored by the lunatic rightwing fringe, and is reviled by everyone in the country with a conscience and innate sense of decency.

    God, I pray the Republicans are stupid enough to contaminate the 2008 ticket with this loathsome reptile .

  21. 21
    adam Said:
    6:44 pm 

    Newt is an amazing speaker, with fantastic ideas about governence. Whether he would actually implement them is another story. But just listen/watch this debate from about 10 days ago: http://www.scribemedia.org/2007/03/03/lincoln-debate/

  22. 22
    Pamela Reece Said:
    7:49 pm 

    I am a Grass Roots Leader in Illinois for the GOP. Take notice of this, liberals, we are standing back waiting for all of you libs to stick your foot in your mouths which has happened before and you lost your prime candidate. The mudslinging within the Democratic party should be humiliating.

    Conservatives know when to shut up, wait, watch and strike. We do this for a reason. The DNC, on the other hand, launches attacks with no solutions and then fights among themselves. Meanwhile, with dignity, we GOP’s stand back and laugh.

    Newt Gingrich? It is my belief he has a real strategy. The GOP Grass Roots Party understand it. Newt gets it. When will the libs and the DNC? Hillary has made an ass out of herself, Obama (who I happen to live within his State) is just a babe in the woods with zero foreign policy experience, who else do they have? Nobody. Oh maybe Gore? I think not!

    Newt Gingrich is a highly respected individual that crosses party lines, gender lines, economic lines, race lines and every line in between.

    Great post and wonderful comments from all sides.

    Pamela

  23. 23
    Scott Wagner Said:
    9:46 pm 

    I’ve known Newt Gingrich since he was a professor at Kennessaw College near Atlanta. He was my congressman while Reagan was president and he is a good student of history. His good ideas are legend.

    If he enters the race, I will vote for him. If not, the party had better come up with something better or I will invest my money elsewhere.

  24. 24
    J.H.Bowden Said:
    11:36 pm 

    You guys are making this too complicated.

    Gingrich can’t win the Presidency because his name has a sinister, villainous ring to it. Even sophisticated voters do not remember the House banking scandal.

  25. 25
    Bob Zimmerman Said:
    10:26 am 

    If only Cheney was healthy! If only Jeb Bush had a different last name! If only Rudy hadn’t banned guns in New York City!

    I might even vote for Newt. But the press will have a field day with him. The main goal in 2008 is to keep Clinton out of the white house.

  26. 26
    ThatPoliticalBlog Trackbacked With:
    12:25 pm 

    Newt’s peccadillos: political and private

    I have been a big fan of Newt Gingrich since he masterminded the Contract With America back in the early ’90’s. He is an especially hated figure with the left because he almost single handedly broke their 40 year stranglehold on control of the House….

  27. 27
    Rico J. Halo Said:
    12:27 pm 

    You either love Newt or you hate him. He’s sort of the Republicans version of Hillary as far as being extremely polarizing. I happen to really like him.

  28. 28
    bobby Said:
    1:07 pm 

    Newt has no chance of winning.

  29. 29
    CB Said:
    11:50 pm 

    I think Newt does have some outstanding ideas for government and how it should be run. However, as an individual he is far too wobbly and damaged to be trusted in a position of leadership. He would make a great advisor or cabinet member.

  30. 30
    Philadelphia Steve Said:
    4:09 pm 

    Of course, those who will split hairs to excuse Newt’s affaris on both of his former wives will have to come up with another excuse for “Deadbeat Dad” Newt’s failure to pay Child Support, forcing his first ex-wife to take a collection from her church to stay in her house.

    But I’m sure the “Family Values” Republican party will have an alibi for that one as well.

  31. 31
    Expect False Hypocrisy Charges When Newt Runs « The Conservative Alternative Pinged With:
    7:54 pm 

    [...] Posted by The CA on March 12th, 2007 Right Wing Nuthouse negatively on the potential presidential candidacy of Newt Gingrich and gets one part right.  Gingrich’s recent revelation that he was having an affair during the Clinton Administration Lewinsky scandal has brought out charges of hypocrisy.  But this charge is false.  Clinton wasn’t impeached for being unfaithful- he was impeached for lying under oath to investigators in the course of a legitimate lawsuit.  Nevertheless, expect that Democrats will try to demonize Gingrich as a hypocrite for this revelation, but a thinking person knows there is a substantial difference and the charge of hypocrisy only applies if you ignore the essential facts. [...]

  32. 32
    NEWT’S PECCADILLOS: POLITICAL AND PRIVATE | Liberal Whoppers Pinged With:
    8:43 pm 

    [...] Read more from the original source: NEWT’S PECCADILLOS: POLITICAL AND PRIVATE [...]

  33. 33
    SShiell Said:
    7:32 pm 

    Bowden: “Even sophisticated voters do not remember the House banking scandal.”

    Correction: The House Banking scandal occurred in 1992. Newt became Speaker of the House in 1995. The referenced Banking Scandal was one of the reasons the Democrats lost the house in the ‘94 midterms.

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