Memo to Huey P. Newt: Keep on Keepin’ On, Brother


Our favorite theme in Newt Gingrich’s campaign against Mitt Romney is his new slogan: “All power to the people.”

Okay, so the iconic Black Panther bumper-sticker message is not exactly the way Newt words it. Instead, he says, “We are pitting people power versus money power.” But it’s the same basic idea.

Except Huey P. Newt is not appealing to poor and working-class people to rise up against the State; he’s trying to rally the Tea Party reactionary, Palinista propeller head, chapel conservative wing of the GOP against the country club Establishment Republicans.

Which is why, after getting wiped out by Hurricane Mitt in Florida on Tuesday, Gingrich declared, in full-throated self-delusion, that “we are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we’re going to be in Tampa as the nominee in August.”

And why, on behalf of the greatest good for the greatest number, Calbuzz hereby energetically and enthusiastically applauds Newt’s determination to fight all the way through the June primaries, not only to ensure that California Republicans get a chance to weigh in with their 172 delegates, but also to continue providing the great public service of exposing Romney for the political charlatan he is.

K Street axe murders: The Republican Establishment was never going to allow Gingrich to win the nomination, as John Cassidy nicely explains in the New Yorker:

For the past two years, a battle has been raging for control of the Republican Party. On one side: the Tea Party insurgents of 2010, led by Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, and the like, whose stated goal is to slash the size of the federal government, roll back the welfare state and remake the nation’s capital. On the other side: the Washington-based party hierarchy, consisting of the congressional leadership and the Republican National Committee, plus a permanent establishment of political consultants, K Street lobbyists, think-tank wonks and media types. Now we know where the real power lies, and—no surprise, really—it isn’t on the side of the flag-waving teabaggers.

It’s not that the insiders have anything ideologically against Newt: after all, he’s truly one of them (as Romney showed to his advantage by harping on the Gingrich record as a K Street influence-peddler). It’s that his undisciplined, shoot-from-the-lip, axe-murdering personality and political persona — all on full display in his non-concession speech Tuesday — are so alienating to Washington insiders and large numbers of voters alike that the GOP’s Grand Poobahs understand that if Newt is the nominee, they could lose both houses of Congress and a huge number of state Republican races as well.

And it is precisely those not-very-endearing Grinch-like qualities that have made the spectacle of the Newt-Mittens smack-down so endlessly entertaining in recent weeks, and why it would such a tragedy to lose his contributions so early in the campaign year.

The Kosher cowboy: Who else but Gingrich, after all, could so brazenly wave off serial adultery qua sick wives dumping, as if it were the buzzing of flies? Newt’s blind narcissism in this regard led to one of our favorite scenes of the campaign to date, when Brit blogger Tim Stanley asked a male voter in South Carolina for his take on the former Speaker’s Clintonesque hound dog record:

“No, Newt’s infidelities do not concern me,” said one Southern gentleman. “On the contrary, I take heart that someone older and fatter than me can still have an affair.” Amen to that.

Or take Newt’s special talent for pandering to Jews, as when he threw the Kosher kitchen sink (HT, The Hill) at Mitt in Florida for cutting Medicaid health care services that benefited Jewish and Catholic facilities, thereby trying to force poor, elderly, devote Jews to eat traif.

“Romney as governor eliminated kosher food from retired Jewish senior citizens on Medicaid and he has no understanding of the importance of conscience and importance of religious liberty in this country,” he said.

Right on, brother.

The beauty of Newt’s unfailingly shrill and bombastic attacks on Romney is that they come both from the left and from the right, illuminating hollow man Mitt’s lack of a political core. Not to mention that Gingrich, who pretty much invented the modern era of politics-as-personal-destruction, lacks even a hint of self-awareness, with his incessant whining about attacks aimed his way.

“Governor Romney has the ability to raise an amazing amount of money out of Wall Street, from Goldman Sachs to all the major banks,” he complained to Fox News. “And he has a basic policy of carpet bombing his opponent. He doesn’t build up Mitt Romney, he just tries to tear down whoever he’s running against.”

Lamenting about his unprincipled enemies to Charlie Rose, Gingrich noted that, “in a lot of cases it’s because they’re part of the establishment.”

“Look at who their ties are to, look at where their money comes from,” he added. “The New York and Washington establishments together want somebody they can trust: Somebody, for example, like Romney, who praised Secretary Treasurer Geithner, somebody who’s comfortable with his biggest donor getting $13 or $15 or $20 billion in taxpayer money.”

Dare to struggle, dare to win — Newt Gingrich, live like him.

Afternoons with Ronnie: Newt is never cuter than when he starts sputtering with rage at not being appreciated as the historic and transformational figure he genuinely appears to believe himself to be, the guy who basically taught Ronald Reagan everything the late president knew about conservatism.

“This party is not going to nominate somebody who is a pro-abortion, pro gun control, pro tax increase liberal,” Gingrich said the other day. “I am, in fact, the legitimate heir of the Reagan movement, not some liberal from Massachusetts.”

For a bit of context on that point, which seems to be a particularly sore one for Gingrich, we checked in with our friend Lou Cannon, the Hall of Fame political writer and Reagan biographer. Here’s what he said:

Gingrich was at most a very minor player in what some call the Reagan Revolution and in my books I call the Reagan Redirection.  His one appearance in the Reagan diaries is suggesting a budget freeze that Reagan thought was a bad idea…(Former GOP Representative) ) Vin Weber, as he often does, had it exactly right this morning on Andrea Mitchell’s show on MSNBC, when he said that he was in his first term and Newt in his second at the beginning of the Reagan presidency.  We were both foot soldiers in the Reagan Revolution, Weber said, but for some reason Newt thought he was a general.

When I was writing my books on Reagan, I talked to many members of Congress who had had important inter-actions with Reagan: Paul Laxalt, Howard Baker, Jack Kemp, Tip O’Neill, to name a few, and a host of less well-known figures such as Willis Gradison. Gingrich wasn’t among them. As far as I know, he never had a one-on-one meeting with James Baker, the WH chief of staff and strategist who made it a daily point to return all calls from members of Congress.

Gingrich undoubtedly admired Reagan and he made a credible pro-Reagan film last year: I was interviewed for it and Gingrich used a chunk of what I’d said. In my opinion, Gingrich is NOT lying when he makes his extravagant claims about his relationship with Reagan: he has been saying this for so long he probably believes it.

Ironically, Newt’s exaggerations in re Reagan–along with the demonization of Gingrich by Romney and his Super PAC–detract from his real political accomplishments, which are all post-Reagan. The most important of these is that Gingrich understood that the House elections could be nationalized, as he did in 1994, with the Contract With America.  At the time he did it almost the entire political media pooh-poohed it, accepting the Tip O’Neill mantra that all politics are local.  Gingrich was the first to demonstrate the fallacy of this belief in the Internet age, and it won Republicans control of the House. 

He certainly deserves some of the credit (some would say most of it) for the balanced budgets of the mid-1990s and he pushed Clinton into accepting welfare reform.  But his accomplishments–every one of them–came with a Democrat in the White House, not during the Reagan presidency.

Bottom line: Hang in there, Newt, the Democrats democracy needs you. And never forget — the people united will never be defeated.

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  1. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    As a woman, I have always agreed with the Southern gentleman and wondered how Newt does it. It’s not just his girth I find off-putting, it’s his obvious self-regard. He’s clearly never loved anybody as much as he loves himself. And that’s an unlovely trait indeed.

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