Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Newt in '12
Once upon time, I was an unpaid intern at CNN's Washington DC bureau. One of my jobs on Saturdays was to wait on guests for The Capital Gang program (hosted by Pat Buchanan, who is actually an incredibly nice man despite his politics). The guest who made the biggest impression on me was Newt Gingrich.
Newtie, as his mom calls him, was still a minority backbencher at the time with a penchant for camera hogging. Being a news junkie, I knew of his work, which consisted of throwing molotov cocktails at the Democratic leadership and trying desperately to pass himself off as an intellectual. I remember him holding court in the green room, giving the most half-assed, comp-lit undergrad assessment of John Wayne that I had ever heard.
A few years later, Newt got his chance to show just how Churchillian he could be. He decided he would be Prime Minister (just like ol' Winston) and use his new Republican majority to invalidate Bill Clinton. Putting on his best defiant-in-the-face-of-the-face-of-the-Luftwaffe pose, he let a funding resolution expire that forced a government shutdown in 1995. He expected Clinton to capitulate to all of his idiotic demands, only to watch ol' Bill laugh his ass off when the American people rose up en masse against Winston Jr.
Then, in 1998, Gingrich took time off from getting blow jobs off secretaries in his car to orchestrate Clinton's impeachment. Bill laughed even harder this time, knowing the Senate would never remove him and watching his polls numbers spike to record highs.
Since leaving the House in disgrace, Newt has published books and given speeches extolling his own Churchillian virtues. He snagged a regular gig as Fox News's pseudo intellectual, sort of like George Will without a bowtie. He wisely passed on running for president this year, not having the money or national organization to get the GOP nomination.
I believe Gingrich was keeping his powder dry for 2012. "Why?" you ask. Well, it turns out Newt was busy behind the scenes lobbying Republicans to vote against the Wall Steet bailout. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) told MSNBC this morning that the Republican leadership assured him they had their quota of votes to pass the measure, only to discover Newt was burning up the phone lines trying to sandbag the vote.
Why would Newt care about this vote? Two reasons: 1) voting no on the bailout is great politics for House members, all of whom are up for reelection; 2) It's an issue he can hammer Obama with for the next four years as he travels the country raising money for his nomination fight in 2011-12 against Mitt Romney (forget Palin).
I, for one, am heartened by this development. Obama is every bit as capable as Clinton and appears to be much more of a natural born leader. Newt was in over his head back in 1995 and, from what I can tell, hasn't appreciably changed since. Combine that with the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as a national presence and you have the makings of one King Hell Daddy ass-whuppin' in four years.
I can't wait.