By Happy Carlock |
If the corrupting intersection of money and politics had a name, that name would be Newt. If he becomes the Republican nominee for president, Gingrich will be the most flawed presidential nominee of a major party in modern history. That sounds like a grand Newt-like pronouncement but when the totality of his history and baggage are assessed, it's hard to come to any other conclusion.
The American people are forgiving but hate a hypocrite, and Newt Gingrich is the current standard-bearer of hypocrisy in politics. He rails against Washington, but he's done more to create partisan strife and division in his time than anyone in the last 30 years. He's the only Speaker of the House in our history to be reprimanded for ethics and was forced by the Republican-controlled house to pay a $300,000 fine. He now holds the lending practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac entirely responsible for the financial crisis, something he never brought up while they were paying him $1.6 million to advocate for them in Congress. He then went on to call for the imprisonment of Rep. Barney Frank and former Sen. Chris Dodd for their role in supporting Fannie and Freddie. As of yet, Newt has not called for his own imprisonment. Predictably, he also lambasts President Obama for the health insurance mandate that Newt himself advocated for until it became unfashionable.
Republican primary voters may be so eager to avoid nominating former Massachusetts Gov. Romney that they overlook Newt's baggage, but a general election audience will be less forgiving. Also consider this question as you ponder Newt's electability: How many suburban moms in Fairfax, Va. are on board with eliminating child labor laws so that poor kids can become janitors? In fact Gingrich's policy extremes are not unique to the former speaker. The Republican Party has moved so far to the right in order to appease the Tea Party wing that the eventual nominee will almost certainly find themselves so far out of the mainstream that they won't even be able to see it from their house.
President Obama is disciplined, charming, and reasonable. With a weak economy and frustrated electorate, however, he could be beatable. Consider though that the last Republican to unseat a Democratic incumbent president was Ronald Reagan. While Gingrich may think he's Ronald Reagan, he isn't.
About Krystal Ball Former Democratic Nominee for Congress
Lara Brown Professor at Villanova University
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Jamal Simmons Principal at The Raben Group