If Newt Gingrich has any chance of being the last man standing in the Republican presidential primaries he will have to win southern states, so Tennesseans should soon be subjected to the Newt-onian physics of bombast, hypocrisy and utter disregard for reality.
Gingrich sounds like a Charles Dickens villain, but compares poorly with Ebenezer Scrooge, who was at least honest about his disdain for the poor and didn’t pretend to try to “help” them while getting rich at their expense.
But I doubt that even Dickens could have conceived of a character like Gingrich — a hypocritical egoist who criticizes the “work ethic” of poor darker-skinned children, then imperiously commands them to push industrial-sized mops without pay, while he and his rich cronies line up to “earn” millions via blatant influence peddling.
How can someone who was ejected from Congress and fined $300,000 for multiple ethics violations lecture poverty-stricken children? And of course that fine was just a drop in the bucket to a man who, according to the New York Times, earned at least 38.6 million dollars for “consulting” work he did for Freddie Mac and various health care companies.
Gingrich’s flagrant hypocrisy was also self-evident when he tried to impeach Bill Clinton for having an extramarital affair while he was doing the same thing himself. Why do “family values” only apply to other people, in the endlessly strange world of conservative Christian morality?
Fly me to the moon! Gingrich claims to be a “big idea” man, but his big ideas are often erratic to the point of being completely contradictory. For instance, he claims to be a fiscal conservative, but he wants to build a colony on the moon, which would surely cost trillions of dollars. He also seems to be opposed to reducing our military budget, calling plans to sequester $600 billion from the defense budget “totally destructive” and “very dangerous to the survival of the country."
But hawks like Gingrich never mention that fact that our navy is larger than the next 13 largest navies in the world combined or that the second-largest air force in the world is our Navy’s. As Ron Paul has correctly pointed out, we have a huge, far-flung military empire that we don’t need and can’t afford, and which only makes us less secure when alpha males like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld seize opportunities to “advance American interests” through weapons and drones.
Gingrich claims to stand for "American exceptionalism vs. the radicalism of Saul Alinsky." But by “American exceptionalism” he seems to mean disdain for anyone who is poor and non-white, favoritism for rich white men like him. It’s hard for me to see Gingrich as anything but a lackey for the 1 percent who butter his bread. He strikes me as a man who will say or do nearly anything to achieve his personal goals of wealth, power and ego gratification.
The only large group of people potentially dumb enough (or deluded enough) to help him gain the presidency are southern conservatives for whom faith trumps facts and reason. As a recent New York Times editorial pointed out, “Newt Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina turned on an almost comically broad deception, an inversion of the truth in which the insider whose personal wealth and political experience are entirely creations of Washington becomes the anti-establishment candidate. That it worked speaks poorly of voters who let themselves be manipulated by the lowest form of campaigning, appealing to their anger and prejudices.”
Gingrich operates by the motto: “Do as I say, not as I do myself.” For instance, he blasted Mitt Romney for having investments in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. But Romney’s research team quickly determined that Gingrich had publicly disclosed the same holdings. When Romney revealed that the would-be emperor was both clothes-less and unwittingly hypocritical, Gingrich’s campaign went into yet another tailspin. It takes irrational voters to elect erratic leaders, so Mr. Gingrich’s only remaining hope is probably to sweep the Bible Belt.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.