Oh, please: The hypocrisy of Gingrich and Romney
By Ruth Marcus,
To use the adverbs of which he is so fond, it is magnificently, fundamentally, literally ironic that Newt Gingrich, the master of slasher political rhetoric, is busy mewling over those meanie attack ads being run against him.
And to employ Mitt Romney’s favorite piece of management-consultant speak, with regards to those terrible, horrible nasty outside groups, it’s a bit rich for the former Massachusetts governor to bemoan their existence and assert that there’s absolutely, positively nothing he could do to get them to stop.
How dumb do they think we are?
Gingrich has long been a leading advocate and practitioner of the full-throated political attack. His current ads may be all warm and Christmas cozy, with syrupy music in the background, but his lifelong modus operandi has been to demonize opponents, not simply differ with them.
In “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” a guide produced by Gingrich’s GOPAC political action committee, fellow Republicans are advised, “Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. . . . Remember that creating a difference helps you.” Among the Gingrich-suggested words: “radical,” “pathetic,” “sick,” “traitors,” “steal,” “corrupt” and “disgrace.”
Gingrich didn’t stop at hurling words — he launched a first salvo in the ethics wars that ended up consuming him when he filed a complaint against then-House Speaker Jim Wright, D-Tex.
He was also a pioneer in the use of outside groups to buttress his political prospects. See GOPAC, above, and the investigation that ended up with Gingrich agreeing to a reprimand and a $300,000 fine.
So forgive me if I have a hard time generating any sympathy for the now put-upon candidate when he whines about the onslaught of negative attack ads being run by outside groups supporting Romney and others.
“I object to negative smear campaigns,” asserted Gingrich, master of the negative smear campaign. Boo-hoo-hoo.
Not that Romney deserves any sympathy, either. The explosion of super PACs, Romney said on MSNBC the other day, has been “a disaster” that “has made a mockery of our political campaign season.”
Really? I don’t recall Romney having anything critical to say about the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which ushered in the era of super PACs permitted to make unlimited expenditures on behalf of favored candidates. In fact, Romney told the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald’s editorial board last month of the justices’ ruling: “I think their decision was a correct decision. I support their decision. I wish we could find a way to get money out of politics. I haven’t found a way to do that.”
More to the point, if Romney believes that super PACs are such a problematic development, could he explain what, precisely, he was doing speaking at events sponsored by Restore Our Future, the super PAC run by former Romney aides and now responsible for the barrage of negative advertising against Gingrich.
“We really ought to let campaigns raise the money they need and just get rid of these super PACs,” Romney said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Well, showing up at their events is a rather odd way to achieve this.
Then there is Romney’s phony claim that he can’t say anything to disavow the super PAC advertising for fear of being sent to “the big house” — as in, “My goodness, if we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house.”
Oh, please. It’s illegal for the Romney campaign to coordinate with the Romney-backing super PAC, but those rules are porous enough to have allowed, for example, Romney to speak at a Restore Our Future event.
But the question posed to Romney was merely whether he would call on the super PAC, as Gingrich had demanded, to stop the negative advertising. “I’m not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form,” he claimed. But nothing — nada, zilch — would prevent Romney from disavowing the advertising or calling on the super PAC to cut it out. Which, of course, he won’t.
This may sound a bit harsh, but, really, these two candidates deserve each other.