Newt: Nomination Maybe, White House Never


Whether or not Newton Leroy Gingrich wins the Republican nomination for the presidency is up for grabs: Willard Mitt Romney has been unable to attract more than about a quarter of GOP voters, Newt’s serial adultery may be marginally less a drag than Mitt’s serial flip-floppery and, of course, Iowa Republican caucus-goers are more or less insane (remember presidents Huckabee and Dole).

But Gingrich will not be elected president. For starters, you’re in big trouble when – all rise – George Will Himself, the High Priest of Anglican Republican Theology, proclaims that Gingrich “embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive.” This from a vain D.C. pundit who knows from repulsive.

Then there’s the revelation (only the latest in a long chain of abuses) that Gingrich has raked in millions in recent years “helping companies promote their services and gain access to state and federal officials,” as the New York Times put it, so as to allow Gingrich to assert hypocritically that he is not a “lobbyist.”

Of course this is just semantics. And legalese. Gingrich can’t admit he was a lobbyist because he was never registered to lobby on behalf of his clients. Even the dim-witted Michele Bachmann could see through this one, telling Chris Wallace at Fox News:

“It’s implausible, Chris, because he’s been a part of Washington, D.C. for over 30 years. He’s as Establishment as you get. His address is located on the Rodeo Drive of Washington, which is K Street. His organizations have taken in over a hundred million dollars just this year alone to peddle influence. You don’t have to be a lobbyist within the letter of the law in order to influence the outcome of legislation.”

But if he wasn’t a “lobbyist” per se, surely Newt – that’s Citizen Newt, to you, buster — wouldn’t mind if we refer to him as a backscratcher, skid greaser, door opener and influence peddler. Why else would people pay him? What, after all, did he do to earn all that cash? Hold senior seminars on the history of how a bill becomes law?

Whether he’s advocating for an end to child labor laws, calling President Obama a socialist or delivering divorce papers to his wife when she’s in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery, Gingrich personifies a level of condescension, contempt and arrogance that could choke a horse. He is one of the most distasteful figures in modern American politics, not just because he’s fat and nasty, but because he wears his smug hubris like Hester Prynne’s scarlet letter.

Even as he has picked up some of Herman Cain’s supporters – and you have to wonder why having committed your serial adultery in the past is better than it having just being exposed, but that’s another story – Gingrich remains a dislikeable figure.

Take, for example the Quinnipiac poll in which Gingrich has a favorable-to-unfavorable rating of 30-42% nationwide. But that’s a vast understatement, because in this survey, at least, he has a 64-10% positive favorability among Republicans, but a massive 9-67% unfavorable among Democrats and – most important – a 27-42% unfavorable rating among independents.

Compare that to Romney, whose overall favorability is 36-31% favorable, including 58-15% positive among Republicans, 19-47% negative among Democrats and –importantly — 37-27% positive among independents. (This, by the way, is why Obama’s people would be delighted if the Republicans select Gingrich instead of Romney.)

While Romney has racked up more support from the GOP Establishment, Gingrich is beating him in the polls among potential Republican primary voters. This may turn out to be a blessing for the Newtster if, as poll watcher Nate Silver postulates, GOP voters are becoming increasingly anti-establishmentarians. But all that gets Gingrich is the nomination – not the White House.

Newt is convinced he will be the nominee. This we know because he says so. “I’m going to be the nominee,” he told ABC News. “It’s very hard not to look at the recent polls and think that the odds are very high I’m going to be the nominee.”

Maybe. Maybe not. A lot of conservatives are rallying against the idea – worried that their best chance to take out a Democratic president (with Romney) would be turned to dust if their party picks Gingrich.

Some, like Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, have been quite emphatic:

His recent proposals on immigration are classic Gingrich: innovative-sounding, accompanied by high-tech gadgetry, and wholly absurd. Local community boards will decide which illegal immigrants to expel! We will be “humane,” while denying temporary workers the vote and stripping their children of citizenship! . . . . Memories have faded, and his current fans say he is a changed man. But he still has the rhetorical style — by turns incendiary, grandiose, and abrasive — that turned off middle-of-the-road Americans then. (November 16: “Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher . . . ”) . . . . Recall the events that led to his campaign’s meltdown this summer, in which he first praised Paul Ryan’s plan for entitlements, then condemned it as “right-wing social engineering,” and finally apologized to Ryan for the comment. . . .

But that’s elite opinion. Out there among the Republican base, Gingrich is generating a lot more upside intensity than Romney is, according to Gallup.

Which is what Obama and the Democrats are hoping for. Because no matter how smart the former Speaker of the House believes he is, no matter how clever – he will never be elected president because he’s so thoroughly unlikeable.

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There are 14 comments for this post

  1. avatar tonyseton says:

    Excellent piece. It speaks volumes for those who call themselves Republicans that (1) they have given themselves these candidates, and (2) Gingrich is at the top of the list. Consider, too, that if Romney gets the nomination, many in the party will either sit out the election or start an independent campaign. Too bad Obama isn’t more worthy of such beneficence.

  2. avatar bogey says:

    “Compare that to Romney, whose overall favorability is 36-31% favorable, including 58-15% positive among Republicans, 19-47% negative among Democrats and –importantly — 37-27% positive among independents.”

    Until they get to know the slimey bastard…

  3. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    It’s amusing to think an experienced politician thinks polls mean anything. At one point, Trump was leading too. Perry shot to the top when he entered the race. And we saw how long that lasted.

    Plus, I don’t know what the deal was that kept the results secret on the lengthy ethics investigation that lead to his resignation from the House–the first sitting Speaker in history to ever quit while in office. But I suspect if the report was horrific enough to pry his pudgy fingers from the levers of power, it will trump serial adultery in turning off voters. Just a guess.

    • avatar tegrat says:

      Newt’s just the non-Romney flavor of the week. Yawn. The field of clowns is definitely narrowing, however, so at some point we will have to admit that Newt’s has a serious chance at coming in second place (in the general election, that is).

    • avatar mjgrove says:

      The Republicans are not a reality show; they’re a fairy tale. It’s the one where they have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Someone should tell them that the story depends on one of those frogs having been a prince before. So far all their candidates have always been frogs. But can they love Gingrich, warts and all?
      M.J. in Beverly Hills
      Third-generation Republican member; mad-as-Hell Democratic voter

  4. avatar sactownjoey says:

    The similarly likable and former next-President-of-the-United-States Phil Gramm thinks you two don’t know what you are talking about.

  5. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    This is an accurate hit piece on Newt explaining why the Left, CalBuzz included, dislikes Speaker Ginrich.

    I worked with the Speaker in Congress so I know that the Left forgets his greatest strength, the ability to transform America from our current government chaos into an orderly exceptional Nation. Witness his history. We saw how he led Republicans to capture and keep the House and how well he worked with President Clinton to create National balanced budgets and establish workfare for the Nation’s welfare recipients.

    You’ll hate me putting it this way but just as the iron fisted Chancellor Angela Merkel is the only hope for cure in the Euro disaster, Speaker Gingrich can be the source of order in America. That’s how great I view the capabilities of the Speaker.

    Despite his periodic arrogance, his beer belly and his past peccadillos, Newt has a true potential to be great for America. Will we be smart enough to choose him?

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Ernie, you seem to forget this brief summary from Wiki:

      Eighty-four ethics charges were filed against Speaker Gingrich during his term, including claiming tax-exempt status for a college course run for political purposes. Following an investigation by the House Ethics Committee Gingrich was sanctioned US$300,000. Gingrich acknowledged in January 1997 that “In my name and over my signature, inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements were given to the committee”. The House Ethics Committee concluded that inaccurate information supplied to investigators represented “intentional or … reckless” disregard of House rules. Special Counsel James M. Cole concluded that Gingrich violated federal tax law and had lied to the ethics panel in an effort to force the committee to dismiss the complaint against him…

      Republicans lost five seats in the House in the 1998 elections—the worst midterm performance in 64 years for a party that didn’t hold the presidency. Polls showed that Gingrich and the Republican Party’s attempt to remove President Clinton from office was deeply unpopular among voters. Gingrich suffered much of the blame for the election loss. Facing a rebellion in the Republican caucus, he announced on November 5, 1998 that he would not only stand down as Speaker, but would leave the House as well.

    • avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

      You are definitely not guilty of judging the Speaker on the basis of, “on the one hand xxx while on the other yyy” Just more negatives. It’s the reporter’s style I guess.

      Too bad for you are writing off a brilliant and capable leader during a period of the Obama caused American disaster.

      Remember! America is in great leadership need now. About the worst thing we could do is reelect Obama who screwed things up for three years and is committed to repeat his fiscal, monetary and egalitarian Lefty mistakes again because it’s the “Right thing to do!”

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      There was also that little matter of shutting down the government. I may be old. But my memory is not yet so bad that I’ve forgotten that brilliant masterstroke–widely credited for the dismal GOP results in the next election.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      I could only wish Obama was actually a lefty. He might have had more success cleaning up the awful mess George Bush left him.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      May I borrow your rose-colored glasses? This is probably the most unrealistic appraisal of Speaker Gingrich’s tenure as I’ve ever read.

  6. avatar tegrat says:

    Don’t despair, Ernie. The impending endorsement coming out of the Cainwreck will pretty much seal the deal for Newt’s eventual nomination (and subsequent humiliation at the polls, but hey, he can take it). Thanks for trying to find something nice to say about him, I certainly can’t.

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