Down in the pig mine, what else could you hope to find?

>> Monday, December 05, 2011

I don't have any particular animus against Representative Nancy Pelosi, but I have to wonder if she's lying:

Pelosi didn't go into detail about Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich's past transgressions, but she tipped her hand. "One of these days we’ll have a conversation about Newt Gingrich," Pelosi said. "I know a lot about him. I served on the investigative committee that investigated him, four of us locked in a room in an undisclosed location for a year. A thousand pages of his stuff."

Pressed for more detail she wouldn’t go further.

"Not right here," Pelosi joked. "When the time’s right."
-Brian Beutler, "Democrats Gleeful At Prospect Of Running Against Gingrich",
Talking Points Memo, December 5th, 2011

Pelosi says she has more dirt on Gingrich. She implies she's holding something back that would disqualify him from being President of the United States. Classic whisper campaign stuff; I don't buy it. She's bullshitting.

I mean, seriously, we're talking about Newt Gingrich: what else could possibly be left?

We're talking about the guy, remember, who was fined three-hundred-grand for House ethics violations when he was in Congress. He cheated on his first two wives, the second time around while he was trying to get Bill Clinton impeached for lying about an extramarital affair (for the record, Clinton stayed married to his one and only spouse). The first wife he divorced, of course, is the one he hit in the hospital "with divorce terms while she was recovering from uterine cancer and then fought the case so hard, [she] had to get a court order just to pay her utility bills." This is a guy who, charitably speaking, has been "flexible" when it comes to presenting himself honestly to spouses and colleagues (see the previous link), whose financial affairs have been a constant mess from the book royalties that led to the House Ethics Committee sanctions to his interesting credit arrangements.

Character flaws may not be indictable (and perhaps we should be grateful), but this is a man who is considered by many--including former colleagues and family members--to be insecure, mendacious, pretentious, narcissistic, driven only by a desire to be powerful and important for the sake of soothing his own insecurities. And he's an idiot. He is utterly without principles, taking large sums of money from organizations he readily turns on as soon as it's politically expedient to do so. A 1999 list of his baggage includes enough to sink any regular mortal politician's career, but you can find updated lists here and here. Oh, and pace Leo Rosten, I have no idea how Newt Gingrich feels about dogs, but I'm reasonably certain he hates children.

What on Earth could possibly be left? Farm animals and choirboys? A secret career as a brainwashed assassin for the North Koreans? He's a Red Lectroid? He once raped a clown in Reno just to watch him cry? This is like looking for a smoking gun at the Battle Of The Alamo. Newt Gingrich is a dumb, sleazy, crooked, hypocritical, two-faced, self-obsessed, power-hungry snake-oil-salesman whose latest book tour has taken a completely shocking turn mostly because there's a crowd of Republicans who somehow manage to despise Mitt Romney even more than progressives do, possibly because he's a Mormon but maybe because these Republicans have Massachusetts bound up so tightly with the Kennedy family in their ophidian brains they'd take you seriously if you told them Mitt Romney drowned Marilyn Monroe in a Chappaquiddick inlet while bootlegging Canadian booze.

In some ways, it's hard not to be reminded of Herman Cain's now-defunct Presidential bid, seemingly brought down by revelations of consensual and non-consensual hanky-panky (as if those are somehow the same thing or even similar at all) and not by the fact Cain is an idiot who was running a completely unserious Presidential campaign catapulted to unexpected prominence by the same Romney-haters who are fueling Newt Gingrich's sudden success. (Speaking of: if you haven't seen Andy Borowitz's "A Farewell from Herman Cain", he pretty much nails it.) You have a self-evidently unqualified candidate whose campaign is already too farfetched to pass as a Saturday Night Live and you're trying to tell me, "No, there's something else that really makes him unqualified." No, there isn't. You can quit with the bombshells, it's already just a hole in the ground.

It somehow seems obligatory to mention that Gingrich has come out swinging in response to Pelosi's comments, pointing out that re-disclosing evidence from the Ethics Committee proceedings is itself an ethics violation (I guess we can trust him on that one, man's an expert on ethics violations, y'know) and, anyway, he was only found guilty of one of the alleged violations, he wants you to know most of them were thrown out. He was only a little bit guilty, and only because he doesn't read important legal papers very carefully--hey, look, I didn't say it, I'm just telling you what he said. (As an aside, I always like it when I'm talking to a client about his prior record and he tells me, "Most of those were dismissed.")

My absolute favorite thing about the Gingrich quotes in Politico, though, is that he's gleeful at the prospect Pelosi might get herself in trouble by breaking Ethics Committee rules--note that he's not, apparently, saying there's nothing for Pelosi to disclose, only that she's not supposed to tell. This might tell you everything you really need to know about Newton L. Gingrich when you really get right down to it: that he's not the sort of person who cares if his name gets dragged through the mud so long as he's got some company down there with him. The fact that Gingrich isn't responding by saying that there's no there there for Pelosi to expose pretty much confirms that there is more that could be told and that Gingrich is too dumb or calloused to bother with even a proper token denial.

Which seems utterly implausible, but there you have it. What could it be? I can only speculate that it involves a leatherboy, some chickens, three gallons of Vaseline and a stack of overdue library books--but nothing that ought to keep a man from being elected President nearly so much as being a dumb, selfish, misanthropic, shallow, skeezy grifter ought to.


Megan Monday, December 5, 2011 at 11:31:00 PM EST  

I have no convictions! Thanks to pre-trial motions, there's no evidence of any threats before the court!

Pangolin Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 1:09:00 AM EST  

The only thing left is video evidence of Newt caught in bed with a live boy or a dead girl; preferably a first or second degree relative. Even evidence that he was a Russian mole all along would be a yawner at this point.

Since Obama is governing well to the right of Richard Nixon I'm not sure that there's much of a point to having a Republican primary at all.

John the Scientist Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:03:00 AM EST  

Apropos your previous musings about Newt's strange dichotomy between his degrees and his onserved attributes of intelligence, this is pretty interesting.

Warner Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:19:00 AM EST  

On the in the hospital for cancer

" And while Battley had earlier undergone cancer surgery, this time she was in the hospital recovering from surgery to remove a tumor that — according to one of the couple’s daughters — was benign. Battley isn’t talking to reporters, but she’s still very much alive." from

Who asked who is very much of a he said, she said, and it doesn't seem this was the first she had heard of the divorce.

And under the house ethics committee rules Pelosi does seem to have the right to discuss the charges.

"House Ethics Committee Rules:
Rule 7. Confidentiality
(g) Unless otherwise determined by a vote of the Committee, only the Chair or Ranking Minority Member of the Committee, after consultation with each other, may make public statements regarding matters before the Committee or any subcommittee."

timb111 Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 10:41:00 AM EST  

"raped a clown in Reno just to watch him cry". Wow, excellent pun! That made my day.

Eric Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 12:54:00 PM EST  

Warner, re: Newt's divorcing his first wife: I was careful in how I phrased it, going with the cited quote because, yes, there has been a lot of "he said/she said" about the whole thing.

The "served her with divorce papers while she was dying of cancer" meme is patently false. Newt's daughter, who was a young teenager at the time (13), has gone on record as saying that they had previously discussed the divorce and has minimized her mother's health issues at the time of the visit (she and Newt also appear to be the sources of the claim that Newt's first wife was previously aware of the divorce proceedings, by the way). On the other hand, Newt's first wife has gone on record to basically say she was ambushed while in recovery--her version is that she was recuperating and her children asked if their father could come up, and when he did, rather than discuss her health, he wanted to discuss the settlement (which, per the article you linked to, she claims was also the first she heard of the divorce, though this appears to be her word against her daughter's and ex-husband's). In the Esquire piece I cited in the post, Newt's second wife appears to be endorsing a similar version of the story, and relates some further shadiness and dishonesty in Newt's description of and handling of his first marriage and affair. The ex-wives' accounts are also corroborated by the account of Newt's former press secretary provided in the link you included, which appears to be the first publicized account of the whole sordid thing. Newt's own responses, when he's given any, have tended towards the obfuscatory and self-serving; to be fair, that's only human.

But the fact it's understandable doesn't really alter the implication that Newt Gingrich is an unempathic, callous and even cruel man. It's possible (perhaps likely), of course, that his exes and former employees have axes to grind, just as it's possible (perhaps likely) that Newt's daughter loves him and wants to spin a situation in which she was young and probably not privy to everything happening in her parents lives in a way that makes her Daddy come out smelling a little better. Having acknowledged that there are credibility issues with all the witnesses, however, I'm inclined to think that similarities in testimony, repeated patterns of behavior (e.g. serial philandering allegedly followed in both of Newt's first two marriages by hardball divorces instead of quick, quiet settlements), and the overall context of a man whose other, non-marital endeavors and pronouncements have been typified by hypocrisy, ethical lapses, narcissism, unwillingness to compromise, thin-skinned egotism, etc. tends to weigh the scale in favor of the conclusion that Gingrich handled his first divorce in a manner that most people would find unconscionable.

I'm all for accuracy, and would repeat: I did not repeat the "served his wife with papers" meme (though I've been guilty of repeating it in the past, mea culpa). But I don't think an accurate account--to the extent one is even possible with the various to-and-fro--exonerates Gingrich from the accusation he's an asshole.

Warner Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 2:50:00 PM EST  

I was specifically commenting on the recovering from uterine cancer surgery, she was recovering from something else, which may have started as cancer surgery.

A thread of mine on Newt got called out yesterday when somebody repeated the uterine cancer story. I knew the dying from cancer surgery was false as she is still alive.

In anycase scumbag is the waste of a perfectly good vulgarism.

Leanright,  Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 3:48:00 PM EST  

Pots and Kettles, Pots and Kettles. I'd be very surprised if ANY politician from either side didn't have a questionable even or two from their past and/or present.

Pelosi and Gingrich are both questionable at best with regards to ethics.

I sure hope conservatives put the best possible person out there to defeat Obama. Gingrich I'm afraid is not that man.

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