Jewish World Review Nov 23, 2011 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5772
The new Gingrich
By Paul Greenberg
At press time, the leading non-Romney in the Republican presidential race was
The former speaker and just about everything else is a master of the snappy comeback. Also the political kind. Call him this year's Comeback Kid. You just can't keep some pols down; they're like one of those roly-poly dolls with a weighted base you can't knock over; they spring right back up. Sort of like Johnson grass in the summer.
All this talk about The New Gingrich, coupled with his rise in the ever-fickle polls, brings to mind the recurrent New Nixon who was always appearing in the 1950s and '60s. Despite the regular makeovers, he remained the Old Nixon, as the nation discovered in the 1970s. He would resign as president in 1974 -- just in time to avoid being impeached. Even now he reappears from time to time; his lawyer-answers before the grand jury investigating Watergate can be read in the transcript just released as part of the historical record. You have to imagine the gravelly voice. It's all enough to bring back an era nobody should want brought back.
It'll be interesting to see if Newt will come back after the latest revelation about his collecting a million or two from
On the campaign trail, Newt has been his usual eloquent self, denouncing both these twin terrors as examples of the federal government's wayward, wasteful -- and fiscally catastrophic -- ways.
In his current book/manifesto, he points out that both
Hear, hear. Newt has always talked a great game. But no one should be surprised by now to find out that he's been on the payroll of one of these subsidized disasters to the tune of a couple of million as a lobbyist/adviser/parasite. Whatever term you prefer.
By now Mr. Gingrich, never short of explanations, has produced several to cover his tracks. For example, he was no lobbyist, he just offered "strategic advice over a long period of time." What's more, it was very good advice. We have his word for it, even if those who received that advice, and paid a couple of million for services rendered, may dispute that contention.
It's one thing to be the Prodigal Son who comes home after his wastrel years to find a warm welcome and a fatted calf waiting. But as the scandals in this one's record are examined again, the suspicion grows that Newt is aiming to be a perpetual prodigal. No problem: He's always prepared to explain away any old moral or fiscal failures. He's very good at it, and why shouldn't he be? He's had so much experience at it.
Wasn't there a time when character was the meme of Republican presidential nominees? They may have been dull, their politics may not have appealed, they may have lacked that clintonesque adroitness when it came to dodging tough questions, but candidates like
If only Newt's fine words were borne out by his record. They aren't. To call that record checkered would be an understatement. It's scandalous. But we're told he's a sharp debater, an uncontested distinction that won't be completely satisfying until some way can be found to have the man debate himself. That would be a show. But only a sideshow. Unlike electing a president of
Like every other non-Romney who's led the
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