Hearing Newt Gingrich’s belly-aching about his treatment at the hands of Mitt Romney’s campaign — a stellar two-pronged attack, if they may say so themselves, which they do — caused me to suffer a severe case of schadenfreude. Giggling over someone else’s misfortune is not very kind, and also bad for one’s own karma. But Gingrich is an exception to that rule.
The former House speaker was on “Fox News Sunday,” moaning and groaning to Chris Wallace about the “carpet bombing” by the Romney campaign and how, at the last debate, the former Massachusetts governor “stands there and just blatantly doesn’t tell the truth.”
Look, Governor Romney has the ability to raise an amazing amount of money out of Wall Street, from Goldman Sachs to all the major banks. And he has a basic policy of carpet-bombing his opponent. He doesn't try to build up Mitt Romney. He just tries to tear down whoever he's running against, and it has an effect.
Gee, where would Romney have learned such a diabolical tactic?
The Post’s Stephanie McCrummen today presents a useful reminder of how Gingrich clawed his way to power after two previously failed runs for Congress. In 1978, Gingrich beat Democratic incumbent Virginia Shapard.
Gingrich and his team dug up several bills that his opponent, Virginia Shapard, had voted against — sloppily drawn legislation, some said — that had aimed to cut taxes and monitor welfare recipients. One of the resulting ads showed a woman’s hefty arm — Shapard was overweight — doling out cash and a voice accusing her of giving money to welfare cheats. Another showed the arm stamping “No” on the tax-cut bill. Another suggested that by going to Washington, Shapard was breaking up her family. . . .
It worked, and the underdog had his first political victory using a polarizing technique he continued to preach. As a party leader, he advised Republican candidates to define Democrats in negative terms, and famously distributed a list of acidic words — among them traitor, radical, pathetic and sick — that have become a regular part of political discourse.
Claremont McKenna College professor John Pitney Jr., has written about Gingrich and told The Post, “One of the keys to Newt is that he’s always seen politics as war. What I see now is just an older version of the younger Gingrich. He hasn’t changed radically, to use one of his favorite words. He’s still audacious.” All true. I’d just add “whiny” to the list.
Another Republican operative who worked with Gingrich in the 1980s told McCrummen that the Georgian “relishes confrontation, the engagement, the challenge, the one-on-one, the whole thing.” He left out the part about how the congressman relishes all this combat only when he’s winning.
Gingrich told a Palm Beach gathering on Friday at the home of longtime supporter Gay Gaines, “I fully expect the next couple of weeks to get wild and woolly.” If the polls that show Romney beating Gingrich translate into an actual victory tomorrow night, watch for “wild and woolly” to start with the former speaker’s concession speech.