Jewish World Review Feb 8, 2012/ 15 Shevat, 5772
O, how the mighty have swollen!
By Roger Simon
Sam Rayburn said it, and Newt Gingrich proves it. During his 20 years in Congress, Gingrich swelled from a conservative pioneer to a disgraced speaker of the House. In resigning both his speakership and House seat, Gingrich said in 1998, “I’m willing to lead, but I’m not willing to preside over people who are cannibals.”
The “cannibals” of whom Gingrich was speaking, by the way, were his fellow Republicans.
Now Gingrich seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency, displaying the same qualities he has shown previously: venom, vitriol, vengeance and vanity.
The one v-word that is almost certain to escape him is victory.
Yet Gingrich is fun to watch, in the same way buildings are fun to watch when they get blown up and collapse in slow motion. He is good TV. The race would be duller without him.
And he remains a pioneer. Most candidates simply make victory or concession speeches after an election contest. But after the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, Gingrich decided to hold a self-destructive news conference instead.
Beaten by Romney by an incredible 29 percentage points (a 10-percentage-point victory is considered a landslide), Gingrich decided that he had not lost because he had run a very sloppy campaign — he missed a scheduled meeting with the state’s popular governor, he made few appearances and he seemed disconnected from the outside world — but because of his evil archenemy, Mitt Romney.
Gingrich said he had lost because Romney was “fundamentally dishonest.” Further, Romney is “pro-abortion, pro-gun control and pro-tax increase” and doesn’t believe in Newt’s plan for the poor to “turn the safety net into a trampoline.”
(I am guessing Newt has never been on a real trampoline. On a trampoline, you go up and then you come down. Is that what the poor need?)
Newt could have delivered a prepared speech, but he decided to wing it instead. As a result, even when he tried to be positive, his rhetoric was incredibly mushy.
“Our commitment is to seek to find a series of victories which by the end of the Texas primary will leave us about at parity with Gov. Romney,” Gingrich said, “and from that point forward to see if we can actually win the nomination.”
To seek to find? To see if we can actually win? Wow. That ought to fire up the troops. (Not that there are many troops, another problem Gingrich has besides archenemies.)
Then Gingrich turned on President Barack Obama, but not by presenting a superior jobs or economic plan to help the middle class. “The Obama administration has declared war on religious freedom in this country,” Gingrich said. “As the average American comes to understand that, they will be repulsed by the arrogance and anti-religious bigotry of the Obama administration.”
Gingrich believes this is why he would make a better nominee than Romney, whom he denounces as “timid.” Gingrich believes that the “average American” wants over-the-top, scorched-earth attacks, and this is why he will destroy Obama in debates and stomp his way into the Oval Office.
Gingrich presumably decided to do all this at a news conference because he thought he could joust successfully with reporters, having been denied the opportunity to joust with Romney because there was no debate in Nevada.
Earlier on Saturday, a major story by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg appeared in The New York Times about Gingrich’s chief donor. About midway in the story, the two noted that Gingrich’s staff had advised Gingrich to rest up, “getting Mr. Romney’s attacks out of his head.”
So at the news conference, Zeleny asked Gingrich whether he could go forward with Romney “still in his head.”
“I am sure that with a psychiatric degree that will get you a tremendous opportunity to have new clients,” Gingrich sneered in reply.
Maybe that would have gone over in front of a boisterous, partisan debate crowd, but at the news conference it just fell flat.
Gingrich soon ended the news conference, but not before pledging he would keep up his attacks because of “the level of ruthlessness and the level of dishonesty” of Mitt Romney.
The overall impression the event left was best summed up by CNN senior analyst David Gergen, who said he could not remember a candidate for national office “so driven by personal hatred” as Newt Gingrich.
Later, in a tweet, Gergen said: “can’t remember candidate so driven by ambition AND by personal hatred. … Newt wants revenge.”
But revenge upon whom? Romney? All those people who do not see Gingrich’s true greatness, all who do not appreciate his shining genius, all those who are unworthy of him? All those cannibals whom he will force to turn upon one another rather than upon him?
“I’m actually pretty happy with where we are,” Gingrich said, saying he was looking forward to going on to campaign in other states.
When you fool other people, it’s called politics. When you fool yourself, it’s called delusion.
And that may be the true state Gingrich is in.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate