Observing his slide in the polls, Newt Gingrich has reverted to type. In this case, the type is cry baby. It has been his standard pose every since he threw a temper tantrum back in 1995 about being relegated to the back of Air Force One, to personalize all slights (real and imagined) and to become indignant that anyone should criticize him. It’s ironic of course, given the fact he perfected the art of attack-dog politics, use of ethics rule to snare his opponents and exaggerated vitriol.
Now he’s in a tizzy because of negative ads directed at his missteps, gaffes and inappropriate rhetoric (against Rep. Paul Ryan, on Mitt Romney’s Bain experience, etc.)
Tuesday started with his classless spokesman (the very same one who spilled the beans about Gingrich impersonating a “senior aide” to snipe at former Gov. John Sununu), R.C. Hammond, declaring of Romney’s (legally correct) explanation that he doesn’t control and can’t direct Restore Our Future super PAC ads: “He’s either a lying politician or a piece of sh-t.” Hammond apologized, but he certainly channeled his boss’s attitude.
Gingrich then spent a good deal of the day whining about his opponents’ ads. The Los Angeles Times reported:
“ I don’t object to being outspent, I object to lies,” Gingrich told reporters in a feisty press conference Tuesday after he spoke to a group of employees at a manufacturing plant here in rural Southeast Iowa. “I object to negative smear campaigns.” . . .
When a reporter asked Gingrich to explain the difference between being negative and saying your opponent is dishonest, Gingrich replied, “I am not running an ad. I am standing here talking to you at a press conference, saying that what he said this morning cannot in any way be classified as candid or accurate . . . . You have to reserve some right to correct the record.”
In fact, it’s hard to think of something in the ads (Romney’s or Rep. Ron Paul’s) that is false. In general the ads simply quote Gingrich.
But Gingrich was not done with his whine-a-thon. “These guys just lie. It is truly frustrating to be an honest person,” the Freddie Mac “historian” insisted with unintended hilarity at a campaign stop. Another Gingrich outburst: “I think these guys hire consultants who get drunk, sit around and write stupid ads. Every one of these candidates should take responsibility for the lies they are putting up”.
It’s obvious Gingrich is upset because the ads are working. And it certainly confirms the take of Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) who told me last week, “Newt believes that what is good for Newt is the truth.” And conversely, what is bad for Newt is a “lie.”
It certainly does drive home the point that Gingrich, not unlike the current president, is exceedingly thin-skinned and dubs every critic a liar or as operating in bad faith. It is not exactly the sort of temperament ideally suited to the Oval Office, is it?