Political Animal


January 01, 2012 9:25 AM The pot calling the kettle ‘nasty’

By Steve Benen

Kevin Drum flagged a Newt Gingrich quote yesterday that’s almost hard to believe. In fact, I watched the video just to make sure the Republican wasn’t misquoted in the print piece.

“Politics has become a really nasty, vicious, negative business and I think it’s disgusting and I think it’s dishonest,” Gingrich told ABC News aboard his campaign bus in Iowa.

I’d genuinely love to know whether the disgraced former House Speaker is so far gone, he literally doesn’t remember his own record. As Kevin noted a month ago, Gingrich is largely and personally responsible “for the poisonous state of partisan politics in America today.”

To be sure, Gingrich didn’t invent toxic partisanship, but looking back over the last three decades, no individual did more to create our nasty, vicious, and negative political climate than Newton Leroy Gingrich. Indeed, no one else comes close.

Hearing him complain about political maliciousness is akin to Mitt Romney complaining about dishonest rhetoric — it requires a stunning lack of self-awareness.

Speaking of Gingrich, Matt Bai has a lengthy item on the disgraced former House Speaker in the New York Times Magazine today, and it includes this jaw-dropper.

Gingrich says now, in what may be a characteristic bit of revisionist history, that it was clear early on that he needed to break free of his highly paid and conventional consultants, and that he and his wife, Callista, actually took their much-maligned Greek vacation last June — a pleasure trip in the middle of what was supposed to be his ramp-up as a candidate — in order to provoke a confrontation with the campaign’s leadership. (Gingrich later added that he really needed to see the Greek fiscal crisis up close.)

I’d love to know what it would take for a serious person to believe this. Gingrich’s new line is that he, just three weeks after launching a presidential campaign, decided to go on a luxury cruise to Greece. He did this in order to (a) infuriate his own staff, who had foolishly hoped the presidential candidate would start campaigning for the presidency, and who subsequently quit in disgust; and (b) be a tourist in a country facing a fiscal crisis.

We’ve all heard plenty of after-the-fact spinning to explain away embarrassments, but this clearly belongs in the “you’ve got to be kidding me” category.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • dj spellchecka on January 01, 2012 9:39 AM:

    dr frankenstein "how could i have known the monster i created would turn out to be a monster?"

  • Danp on January 01, 2012 9:40 AM:

    he and his wife, Callista, actually took their much-maligned Greek vacation last June ... in order to provoke a confrontation with the campaign’s leadership

    Newt's really been studying that "brain science", hasn't he?

  • stevio on January 01, 2012 9:40 AM:

    First: Happy New Year to all posters (including the creepy right-wingers who troll...)

    Secondly: Speaking of creeps, Newt is in a class of his own. Try to remember that, even though Obama won big, there were millions of folks (for reasons clear to some, foggy to others) who voted AGAINST his clear thinking. Millions. Those millions, without hesitation, would vote for Newt if given the opportunity.

  • ARTinNC on January 01, 2012 9:43 AM:

    Gingrich is a classic bully. Faced with his own tactics wielded by an opponent, he whines and caves.

  • c u n d gulag on January 01, 2012 10:01 AM:

    Uhm, so, Dr. Jekyll, you say you don't know any Mr. Hyde?

    Newt is the biggest asshole in a generation of political assholes.

    I wish abortion was a legal option back when he was born.
    And I think his ex-wives and his mother would agree with me.

  • chi res on January 01, 2012 10:03 AM:

    What is it with all these weird presidential candidate names?

    Williard? Leroy?

    Whatever happened to good old-fashioned Amurican names like Barack and Hussein???

  • hells littlest angel on January 01, 2012 10:03 AM:

    Can we just call this the Harry Frankfurt Primary?

  • DAY on January 01, 2012 10:09 AM:

    "It is absolutely disgraceful the way these Nazis are treating the Jews!" A. Hitler

  • zandru on January 01, 2012 10:10 AM:

    Gingrich may have finally underestimated the intelligence of the American public. Many have thought it couldn't be done; that there was, in fact, no bottom. But, as it has turned out, we're not all Republican voters.

  • Mudge on January 01, 2012 10:23 AM:

    Even if you take Newt's whiney excuse at face value, it means he was unable to deal with his staff directly, in a manly way, but needed to cause dissension indirectly. Of course, Occam's razor requires that we presume he is lying. He opened his mouth.

  • wab on January 01, 2012 10:25 AM:

    "No individual did more to create our nasty, vicious, and negative political climate than Newton Leroy Gingrich."

    More than Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch?

  • Newt Gingrich in his own words on January 01, 2012 10:30 AM:

    I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don't encourage you to be nasty. We encourage you to be neat, obedient, loyal and faithful and all those Boy Scout words, which would be great around a campfire but are lousy in politics.

  • berttheclock on January 01, 2012 10:32 AM:

    @chi res, Milhous?

  • withay on January 01, 2012 10:42 AM:

    His rationale for the Greek Islands cruise at the time he took it was that it had been planned, scheduled, booked and paid for for several months; therefore, he is also lying about his reason for going on the cruise - either then or now.

    Is anyone looking into his current infidelities? This tiger won't be changing his stripes.

  • mellowjohn on January 01, 2012 10:48 AM:

    newt's complaints about the tone of politics today reminds me of an old emo philips bit:
    "my sister's german boyfriend said it was hard to find good bagels in berlin. 'who's fault is that, i wonder?'i asked him."

  • Gandalf on January 01, 2012 10:58 AM:

    But can you imagine Newt on a cruise? You'd have to watch him like a hawk because he'd be cheating at shuffleboard, trying to steal your drinks when your not looking and going after your wife although I know mine would toss him overboard if he tried.

  • T-Rex on January 01, 2012 12:17 PM:

    Well, what can you say about a man who claims that his infidelity was due to his patriotism forcing him to work late? Of course he was working late to try to carry out a nakedly partisan impeachment for the purpose of overturning an election result he didn't like, but apparently he couldn't do any sort of work, productive or destructive, without getting frequent b.j.'s.

    Personally, I think he takes these oddly timed "vacations" whenever he comes down off a manic high and gets into depressive tantrums or doldrums, and doesn't want to be seen in public that way. His mother had bipolar disorder, and it's genetic.

  • g on January 01, 2012 1:19 PM:

    Newt Gingrich, examining the Greek fiscal crisis "up close":


    This guy is like the Jon Lovitz pathological liar from SNL.