Newt to GOP senators: Nix Geithner
A surprisingly assertive Newt Gingrich has come out and urged GOP senators to reject the nomination of Timothy Geithner for Secretary of the Treasury:
Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Geithner's failure to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 should automatically disqualify him, and that if Mr. Obama doesn't withdraw the nomination Republicans should make a stand.
"Senate Republicans should make it clear that they will not permit a tax evader to become the secretary of the Treasury," the Georgia Republican told The Washington Times. "Even after he was explicitly sent material telling him he had to pay them he did not do so."
Gingrich had softened his partisan image the last few years and steered clear of the day to day scramble of politics for the most part. Why he would jump in with both feet on this matter could be due to a couple of reasons.
There is a leadership vacuum in the GOP at the moment and Gingrich is well positioned to fill that role even after a new party chairman is elected. Newt has name recognition, clout with many top conservatives, is admired by many in the base, and money to burn. A frequent guest on the Sunday morning talk show circuit, he could raise his visibility even more by doing more talk radio and extra cable TV spots during the week.
Does Newt want to be Kingmaker? Or King?
The man has had a hunger to run for president since he came into the House in 1978. But his baggage is considerable; messy divorce, affairs with staffers, financial snafus, and the unknown impact of someone being so closely associated with the Clinton impeachment. That's a lot to overcome and a first class politician like Gingrich is realistic enough to know this.
That's why I think it more likely Gingrich is sincerely concerned with bringing the GOP back and thinks he knows how to do it. If in the process he helps elect a president in 2012, all the better for him.
This move to openly try and move GOP senators to oppose Geithner might be the start of a bid by Gingrich to be de facto party leader and spokesman. It's certainly warranted by the circumstances and trying to put some backbone in Republican senators is a great idea.