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Right Turn
Posted at 04:55 PM ET, 12/05/2011

Newt Gingrich and the unknown unknowns

At some point, this Newtonian episode is going to wind up in a campaign ad. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an online interview that she would share what she knows about Newt Gingrich from her days on the ethics committee that eventually meted out a record $300,000 fine. (“I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year,” Pelosi told Talking Points Memo. “A thousand pages of his stuff.”) Gingrich was outraged that she should reveal the facts about which he was investigated, contrary to a system designed to afford members of Congress the maximum protection. He blustered that this would be a “fundamental [Gingrich’s favorite word] violation of the rules of the House.”

Wait a minute. Why hasn’t Gingrich released all this information? And by the way, where is the promised disclosure about all his post-speakership lobbying, er . . . historical consulting? Why hasn’t he turned over his contracts, revealed his clients and told us how much he pulled down from which clients? His spokesman said at one point that the campaign would.

In this regard, both the mainstream and conservative media have fallen down on the job. Gingrich is never pressed in interviews or debates about his lack of disclosure. Many conservative blog and talk shows are uninterested in vetting Gingrich’s record so they don’t make a fuss over it either. (This comes after they made a federal case in 2008 out of then-candidate Barack Obama’s refusal to release his college grades.)

But this is one of the central dangers posed by Gingrich’s candidacy: Lots of people who worked on congressional committees, at special interest groups and for him in one capacity or another have plenty of details about what he has done over the years. It is the unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld put it, that are the most dangerous.

Herman Cain spent months skating by, aware there were oodles of ladies willing and able to step forward and create problems. How many problem stories with much more reliable witnesses are waiting to pop out for Gingrich, should he get the nomination? He is at the mercy of such people. The party, if it selects him, would be at the mercy of such people.

And yet Gingrich’s approach has been “mum’s the word.” It’s all “confidential,” he said of his deal with Freddie Mac. You can only imagine what else is out there, ready for the Obama hit squad to reveal. And I bet they won’t need to “crowdsource” to get it; people will be lined up around the block to tell their Gingrich tales.

By  |  04:55 PM ET, 12/05/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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