Having been a reporter, one had to feel uncomfortable the other night as CNN’s John King questioned the Republican Presidential Candidate about his crazy quilt marital affairs.
Newt unloaded on the hapless King, adroitly dodging the core questions and blaming the Eastern media Elite for digging into his checkered past as a father and husband. And then drawing himself up in self-righteous outrage, Gingrich called the line of questioning “despicable” and unworthy of being introduced as the first question in the South Carolina presidential debate.
Well as the man said, the best defence is an offense. Newt played that role to the cheers of his supporters in the hall.
Step back a bit. Isn’t it fair game to question the integrity and character of an individual running for political office? Newt carries more baggage than a 747 when one examines his public career. Fired as Speaker of the House and fined $300,000 for breach of ethics; taking more than $1.6 million from federal mortgage insurers Freddie Mae and Freddy Mac as a historian and denying he was a lobbyist; then as the House Speaker leading the Republican charge to impeach President Clinton for his alleged affair with Monica Lewinsky, he was at the same time boinking his mistress while still married to wife two. The mistress won in the end, and became the third and current Mrs. Gingrich.
One would think that these are character issues and possibly unworthy of a presidential candidate.
But Newt, in his glib way, has convinced the South Carolina Republican voters that he is the anointed one to turf Barack Obama out of the White House in November. Newt knows how to serve up the red meat for the carnivorous Carolinians, many of whom are still fighting the civil war. Blaming a mixed race black President is cannon fodder for the opportunistic Gingrich who can talk but is a straw man with no integrity of substance.
So the Republican Presidential race to the bottom leaves four candidates: Mitt Romney, whose lack of charisma and elitism has him twisting in the wind in the Carolinas and probably the rest of the South; Rick Santorum, who is the darling poster boy for the evangelical and social segment of the divided party. He was soundly defeated as a sitting Senator in Pennsylvania; and Ron Paul, the happy Libertarian warrior who could end up running as a third party candidate and spoiling a Republican return to the White House and possibly Congress.
What a sorry collection. Where is Donald Trump when the party needs him? Or Mitch Daniels, or Chris Christie or Paul Ryan?
You don’t have to look far to analyze their reluctance. That canny former governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, took one look at the national political scene and passed on running for president.
That says a lot for the Republican power brokers who must be wringing their hands in anguish as none of the four remaining candidates stands a chance against Obama in November.