Newt Gingrich’s whining is getting to be a bit much. As Peter Wehner points out, “Newt Gingrich is probably not the ideal messenger when it comes to complaining that politics is too negative.” Indeed, the level of vitriol he has deployed against political opponents is unmatched in the last few decades. They are “socialists” or “secular fascists” or “un-American” or “Kenyan, anti-colonial” in their behavior. His hyperbole is not reserved for liberals. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was guilty of “rightwing engineering” and as speaker of the House he regularly berated conservatives in his caucus.
Moreover, Pete reminds us that “Gingrich — who refers to himself as a historian — should recognize that politics has always involved passionate collisions that sometimes devolve into ad hominem attacks.” Considering his own personal conduct, the attacks could have been far more harsh.
But there is something else: The “negative” attacks are true. In fact, the ads by his opponents and their PAC’s are some of the most accurate primary ads in recent memory.
He did get $1.6 million from Freddie Mac. He did tout the individual mandate. He did attack Ryan over his Medicare reform plan. He did implore Republican congressmen in a meeting arranged by leadership to pass Medicare Part D. He did divorce two sick wives. He did have an affair with his current wife at a time he was leading the charge against President Clinton for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. He did pay $300,000 in ethics fines. He did plop down on the couch with Nancy Pelosi. His colleagues did revolt against his leadership. He did attack Mitt Romney from the left on his Bain work.
If he likes, he can, as he promised, go “negative” on his opponents. But he should employ the same standard of accuracy that they have adhered to in criticizing him. He might even try to convince us that something in one of his opponents’ ads isn’t true, but that would be tough since most of them quote Gingrich extensively.
Moreover, his incessant bellyaching about opponents who point out his flaws Gingrich has proven there is no New Newt. The same politician who pouted about his placement on Air Force One during the budget show down with Clinton is alive and well, taking offense at every turn and taking no responsibility for his own conduct.
The good news is that, according to the polls, conservative voters have had it with him. He’ll likely finish in the back of the back in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and will return to the speaking tour and his conservative organizing gambits as a much reduced figure. Those who backed him and ignored his obvious flaws aren’t likely to concede they were snowed. In the meantime, the conservative movement and the GOP will do fine without the historian from Freddie Mac.