Expect Newt to be Pilloried
Newt Gingrich, piñata. Expect it -- now that Gingrich is enjoying rough parity with Mitt Romney and Herman Cain in the polls. Expect Gingrich to start taking whacks from his GOP competitors and their allies. What's curious is if the left and fossil media join in the Newt-whacking now or wait.
Gingrich is also starting to enjoy some good ink from conservative writers. Ed Morrissey opines at The Week that Gingrich is the real deal. Jeffrey Lord, writing yesterday at The American Spectator, floats the notion that the former Speaker might be an American Churchill.
Jonah Goldberg pens a more measured assessment of Gingrich's upswing at National Review Online. While Goldberg acknowledges "this could be Gingrich's moment," he also writes:
It's an open question whether Gingrich can defeat Obama in 2012. It's taken as a truism that he has "too much baggage." Well, some of the baggage is lighter than it appears. He was cleared by the Clinton-era Internal Revenue Service of wrongdoing in alleged ethics violations stemming from a college course he taught in the 1990s. The charge that he surprised his cancer-stricken first wife with divorce papers has been, at the least, exaggerated.
Adds Goldberg, tellingly:
But, as with Kim Kardashian's attic, you can throw away a lot of old baggage and still be left with too much for one person to carry. His [Gingrich's] marital infidelities, his verbal indiscipline, the strange mix of God and Mammon that is Newt Inc., and his grandiose way of talking about himself as one of the lions of the 20th - and now 21st - century: It may just be too much muchness for voters once they're reminded of it all. And, oh boy, would they be reminded of it if Gingrich got the nomination. [Emphasis added.]
Which leads to the question: Will the liberal media, Democrat hacks, and leftwing attack dogs refrain from going after the former Speaker or will they want to join in and stir up a whack-frenzy against Gingrich now?
As Goldberg suggests, the best bet is that Democrats and the left would welcome a Gingrich presidential nomination, believing that Gingrich is a target-rich environment come the 2012 General Election. Gingrich's occasional zigzags and his checkered personal life would be the treats that Mr. Obama and the left would hope to spill out after a good whacking if Gingrich squares off against the president.
Offsetting Gringrich's baggage, though, is a crippled economy and, perhaps, worse economic trouble in the offing. Will voters be willing to overlook any GOP nominee's personal foibles and political and policies lapses if they think that man or woman can deliver on curing an economy that can't shake its long illness? In fact, an illness prolonged by Obama and Democrat policies?
That's certainly what Gingrich's bet would be. And Republican voters, if they give the GOP presidential nod to the former Georgia politician, would make the same bet.