May 17th, 2011

Gingrich: character revealing itself

I’ve never liked Newt Gingrich. At all.

It’s not that I couldn’t see he’s a pretty bright guy. He is, about some things.

And it’s not just that my initial exposure to him was back when I was a liberal Democrat and predisposed to disagree with him. Nor was it his singularly distasteful name, a cross between a small amphibian and a Dr. Seuss villain.


No, my dislike was about something more basic and more lasting than ideology: character. And I’m not talking about Gingrich’s habit of cheating on his wives, although that hardly endeared him to me (and by the way, the story about him asking wife number one for a divorce when she was recovering from cancer surgery is apparently untrue).

The personality trait that has especially repulsed me about Gingrich is a self-serving ruthlessness that he exudes, a smallness and a lack of sincerity coupled with extreme personal arrogance.

You might say the same about our current president, minus the marital infidelities. In Obama’s case it is coupled with a certain superficial ease and charm that Gingrich lacks. But just as the more we see of Obama the more he demonstrates his flaws, the more we see of Gingrich (and by now we’ve seen way too much of him) the more he demonstrates his.

The most recent example, of course, is Gingrich’s ill-considered attack on Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal regarding Medicare. Gingrich is probably stunned by the strength of the backlash from almost all Republican quarters, but that only demonstrates his tone-deafness. Right now the Republican Party does not need a has-been politician with high negatives gratuitously trashing an intelligent and courageous proposal from a likable up-and-coming young congressman who is already one of the few Republican hopes on the horizon. It is seen as a betrayal, and rightly so.

The WSJ has been merciless to Gingrich:

Yet now [Gingrich] is trashing Mr. Ryan for thinking far more deeply about health care, and in a far more principled fashion, than Mr. Gingrich ever has. The episode reveals the Georgian’s weakness as a candidate, and especially as a potential President—to wit, his odd combination of partisan, divisive rhetoric and poll-driven policy timidity.

Gingrich was already a weak candidate before his ill-fated statement. Now he’s almost certainly a finished one: “Newt of the Four Days,” which is the length of time before his candidacy self-imploded.

20 Responses to “Gingrich: character revealing itself”

  1. vanderleun Says:

    “Oozing charm from every pore/ He oiled his way across the floor/….” and then he slipped right out the door.

  2. Foxfier Says:

    Nice to see _someone_ else just doesn’t like the guy, politics aside.

  3. kolnai Says:

    I remember a few years ago talking to one of my professors – a conservative’s conservative with a long-time involvement in Republican politics – about Newt. I was enumerating positives and negatives, and he shook his head.

    I stopped. He looked at me and said,

    “There’s a special place in hell reserved for Newt Gingrich.”

    He was being hyperbolic, but it always stuck with me how this man of character, my professor, was so intensely, unqualifiedly disgusted with Newt.

  4. M J R Says:

    No seasoned, experienced politician of one party should be offering ^gratis^ a sound bite (“right wing social engineering”) that can be exploited ad infinitum by the other party. Case closed.

    Worse than tone-deaf: I don’t have the adjective handy.

    Get lost, Gingrich. VERY lost.


  5. Matt Turner Says:

    My ill feelings for Newt arose during the debate over the “ground zero mosque.” He was clearly playing to lesser angels of our nature and I thought to myself, “this is the opposite of what we need in the White House.”

    Now comes this blatant, ego-driven betrayal of his natural allies. He deserves all of the admonishment he is receiving. He also deserves forced retirement from public life.

  6. SteveH Says:

    Newt is an intellectual and will tell you so. I can’t for the life of me think of a single person who proudly wears that description that can be trusted. Probably has something to do with postmodern intellectuals seeming to reflexively view lying and deceit as just another tool in their tool kit.

  7. physicsguy Says:

    From what I just read, with Newt imploding as we watch, it has apparently given the impetus for Bachman to jump in.

  8. Occam's Beard Says:

    Be of good cheer, all.

    We may not have figured out who can lead us out of the liberal wilderness, but identifying those who cannot nevertheless constitutes some progress.

    It’s better to make a positive move, but avoiding a negative one is sometimes the best one can hope for at the time.

  9. Curtis Says:

    Gingrich has apologized. Still, it shows execrable judgment. There’s twenty turkeys to shoot at in this turkey shoot and Gingrich trains his gun on a dove on the wing.

    You notice Palin doesn’t say much about rivals unless its support. One of the things that turned me off about Pawlenty was his statement during the Palin smear campaign that he wouldn’t have used the cross hairs symbol. Right! I rather liked Dennis Prager’s column on that.

  10. Tally Says:

    The comment about his names is kind of ironic because it is based on a mispronunciation that was never worth correcting, apparently. Everybody ties Gingrich to the Grinch because of the assumption that there is a similarity in “Ging-rich” rhyming with “Grinch” and “itch).

    Newt’s stepfather was from Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, where Gingrich is a fairly common name, and it never ends in “itch”. It’s pronounced Ging-rick, with a soft g ending the first syllable and a hard German ch ending the second syllable. The prevailing pronunciation Newt has been stuck with is like calling the great Baroque period musician Johann Sebastian Botch.

    Gingrich sounds nothing like Grinch without the error.

  11. LAG Says:

    I didn’t need to hear it, but I was pleased with Charles Krauthammer’s assessment: “He’s done.”

  12. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    I said in an earler comment on candidates that Newt, while smart and full of ideas, was prone to saying or doing things that were out of line or unnecessary. I intuited that he would do it at some point in the campaign. Didn’t expect it this soon. He is finis.

  13. Richard Aubrey Says:

    I like listening to the guy.
    However. Once upon a time, one of his campaign advisers was accused of anti-Semitism and pro-Nazi sympathies based on a twisted version of a perfectly normal article on WW II.
    It was a lie, start to finish. Typical dem/Alinsky stuff.
    Gingrich dumped her.
    Not a single effort in her defense.
    End of my interest in him as an elected official.

  14. Parker Says:

    Newt is an egg head vulture who eats carrion. He is not serious about running for the republican nomination. He’s just trashing real conservatives to get strokes from the MSM. Ignore him and he will quickly go the way of Huckabee/Trump.

  15. Beverly Says:

    Love the Newsweak cartoon of him: spot-on.

    Used to call him Gangrene. I think he might have calculated that he could run in a cleft, splitting right and left, sacrificing Paul Ryan’s plan to do so. But this time the nation is in dire straits, and such cheap political strategems are contemptible.

    I had a similar feeling about Karl Rove when I saw him on a talk show: he was all about coldblooded calculation of how to get his man into power, and to hell with the principles. I can’t remember what principle he rubbished, but it was a big one that shocked me.

  16. CZ Says:

    It’s obvious that all major candidates have supporters behind them, big money, influential supporters with ties to the national party.

    Wonder who they are and what their motives happen to be?


  17. Libby Says:

    Regardless of his character defects (and there are many), Newt was already turned radioactive by the Clintons and MSM back when he was Speaker of the House. He had as much chance as someone like Tom Delay of getting anything but non-stop derision from the press.

    And I can’t believe that after the groundswell of Tea Party activity over the last few years, including the historic 2010 election, that he actually felt comfortable touting his establishment Republican (i.e. RINO)views. While I’d like a candidate with some experience, I don’t want anyone who has/had been in Congress long enough to become more interested in pleasing his beltway friends than, you know, representing the people.

  18. Kustie the Klown Says:

    Something struck me as I watched the roundtable of liberals on Meet the Press last Sunday following Newt’s appearance: they were uniformly praising Newt as being a “new, fresh face” and “surprisingly matured” and “wise”.

    This, plus Newt’s behavior in the Ryna kerfluffle, have me thinking that Newt is being deliberately set up by the liberal establishment to take the Republican mantle, just as McCain was in 2008.

    We now know that the Obama campaiogn WANTED to face McCain all along, because they thought he would be the easiest Republican candidate to defeat. So, they gamed the system at every pass to take out his competition–using things like the “open” Republican primary in Florida (coupled with the Democrats’ agreement not to campaign there) that allowed Democrat voters to flood the polls to vote, en masse, for the “worst” Republican (McCain).

    I fear that’s what is happening here, Alinsky style, behind the scenes. Newt’s betrayal of Ryan, and the republican base, was so deliberate and reprehensible that under normal circumstances I would judge his candidacy to be finished. However, so long as Obama faces no primary challenger there are going to be millions of potential Democrat voters going to the polls to vote in the open Republican primaries, again for the “weakest” Republican candidate (Newt).

    Just as happened in 2008, we may end up with a GOP presidential candidate completely at odds with the base of the party and chosen, essentially, by Democrats.

  19. Jenna Says:

    Regarding Kustie the Klown’s comment,

    Florida does not allow cross-over voting in the primaries. It does not have “open” primaries. Democrats cannot vote in the Republican primary, unless they switch parties, and that has to happen at least one month before election day. Cross-over voting in the primaries did occur in many states in 2008. But I can’t think Florida was one of them.

  20. Liz Says:

    Everyone keeps telling me that Gingrich is just, like, soooo intelligent. I’ve seen no evidence of this. If anything, he reminds me of one of those truculent old men in the doctor’s waiting room who will. not. shut. up.

    Salon had a good article on how, in addition to the grassroots conservatives, the GOP itself is purging him because he’s embarrassing them. It’s probably all they can do, considering how much everyone hates him:

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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