Posted at Facing South
Here at Facing South, we've been following the attempted political revival of ex-Rep. Newt Gingrich (GA-R). Since 2005, Gingrich -- known during his tumultuous days in Congress as the GOP's bomb-throwing attack dog -- has been trying to show a kinder, gentler side.
There have been lapses, like the time last September when he agreed that Iraq critics were the same as Hitler's appeasers. Or his claim at C-PAC earlier this month that people in New Orleans died because they were uneducated and lacked "citizenship" (as opposed to cars, good levees and a FEMA evacuation plan).
But the New Newt aims to be a voice of reason and conciliation, as when he confessed to conservative religious leader James Dobson this March that he was having an extramarital affair just as he was leading the charge against President Clinton's "moral failings."
It's unclear if Gingrich's admission helped him with "values voters" (for example, see here); it certainly armed critics with ammunition in charging him with hypocrisy.
If Gingrich's claims to personal morality have invited ridicule, so has his campaign to be seen as an "arbiter of political ethics." This ramped up in January 2006, when Gingrich began decrying the "unhealthy" and "dysfunctional" nature of D.C. politics. Gingrich didn't mention, of course, the fact that he was socked with an "unprecedented" $300,000 fine by his House colleagues in 1997 for "reckless disregard" of campaign rules. Indeed, it was the first time in the House’s 208-year history it has disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing, and House Republicans said they were "embarrassed."
All of which makes Gingrich's latest entry into the "political ethics" debate even more rich. Joe DeSantis, Gingrich's communications director, eagerly sent me an announcement today about Gingrich's latest YouTube posting, footage from a conference in which Gingrich takes on the now-famous pro-Obama video created by a former employee of Blue State Digital.
You can see Gingrich's video here; here's a quick transcript of the good bits:I don't know how many of you have seen the YouTube commercial about 1984 [...] It's a very interesting attack on Hillary and modest promotion of Barack Obama. And it is utterly, totally destructive to the process of thought.He would know. Better than most.
There is not a single thing in that commercial that enables America to solve a problem. Oh it's clever, it fills up space on television, people can talk about it. It's the Entertainment Tonight version of governing our great country. And it's very dangerous.
Because we have no habits anymore of serious dialogue, we have no habits of serious citizenship. Everything is reduced to gossip, attack, whose consultant is cleverer. And it's really, very destructive.