The Washington Post

Gingrich’s debt problem? What debt problem?


He has what we need. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle) (Craig Ruttle)

Baloney!

True, in most professions, a trail of poor financial decisions that leads from the door of Tiffany’s to the door of bankruptcy would be something of a handicap. But in running for the presidency, it’s a positive boon. Have you seen this country lately?

We are 14 trillion dollars in the hole. This summer, we nearly defaulted. In 2010, the CIA estimated our public debt at nearly 62 percent of GDP.

If anything, all this experience running something that is massively in debt makes him better suited to serve as our chief executive.

If Newt Gingrich can wangle his way out of his campaign’s financial hole, then he will have demonstrated once and for all that he is the man America needs.

And it’s quite an impressive hole. He owes $451,946 to something called Moby Dick Airways, apparently a group of specialists in flying great white whales from place to place. No, wait, I’m sorry, they charter private flights for Republican political figures.

He also owes five figures to himself for travel expenses, which is in addition to the $42,000 he already paid himself for an address book and possibly maybe did not quite remember to tell the FEC about. And that’s in addition to the sums he owes consulting firms with intimidating names like Huckaby Davis Lisker, which sounds like a hipster film or a bad name for a mouthwash, and Norway Hill Associates, which I guess is the name you come up with when all the exciting country-and-topographical-feature combos (“Turkey Fjord,” “Portugal Estuary”) were taken.

The other candidates are far too solvent to know what we’re going through. Mitt Romney has no debt and millions to spend. He just started a new website called FortyFore.com, trying to make fun of Barack Obama’s golf habits. This is not something you do if you don’t have money to burn. Mitt Romney’s campaign is gradually melting into a heap of bad puns — Barack Obama’s Magical Misery Tour, anyone?— leaving voters trapped between the Scylla of giving Mitt Romney more money and the Charybdis of not owning a tie-dyed, limited edition hat that says Magical Misery Tour on it. It’s hard.

In contrast, Newt seems like a real man of the people. The people understand that when you owe money to yourself and to a large number of others, you pay yourself first. You don’t have to stare at Moby Dick, Ltd., in the mirror every morning — well, Newt does, but that’s cruel. But you have to live with yourself forever.

Then again, the options available to Newt for emerging from this debt are different than those the United States has. The United States can’t suddenly start a book tour, and Tiffany’s seems more understanding than China. If only people would pay us for our consulting advice, as they have paid Newt over the years. But whenever we go somewhere to offer them our advice, they tend to respond not by paying us and clapping us contentedly on the back, but by yelling for us to leave and forcing us to into protracted military conflicts with unclear end dates.

But maybe we don’t need someone with the skills to pay the bills. Newt Gingrich has the ultimate gift — convincing people that he will pay them the money he owes them, maybe not now, but definitely later.

“Newt will pay them,” said gruntled former Gingrich spokesperson Rick Tyler. ”I’ve got no question in my mind about that.”

Really, this is all we require in a commander in chief. Disqualifier? Never.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".
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