Newt Gingrich and the people around him will tell you that he is one of the smartest men in politics. Yet over the past 48 hours, the former speaker of the House and newest entrant in the 2012 Republican presidential nomination sweepstakes has made some pretty boneheaded mistakes.
GOP wagons have been circling around Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) ever since he proposed turning Medicare into a less-than-adequate voucher system for seniors. Gingrich must have gotten dizzy on “Meet the Press” on Sunday when he told moderator David Gregory, “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering.” He also likened it to “imposing radical change. . . .”
Well, that (and saying he was for some sort of individual mandate in health-care reform) didn’t go over well with conservatives known and unknown.
Post columnist Charles Krauthammer declared, “He’s done.”
IOWAN: What you just did to Paul Ryan is unforgivable.
GINGRICH: I didn’t do anything to Paul Ryan.
IOWAN: Yes, you did. You undercut him. . . . You’re an embarrassment to our party.
GINGRICH: I’m sorry you feel that way.
IOWAN: Why don’t you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?
Might be too late for that. On top of the substantive policy disagreement comes the revelation that Gingrich owed between $250,001 and $500,000 to on a Tiffany charge card. What on earth did he buy? Look, I have had one of those cards for almost 20 years. But I have been a little afraid to use it much for fear of one day having to live out of one of those blue boxes because of an inability to meet the monthly payments. On the rare occasions I do use it, the bill is paid in full. Wait, that would make me something of a fiscal conservative. Would that Gingrich could continue to make the same claim.