Lately, Newt Gingrich has been surging in the polls, and into the top tier of GOP candidates for President. But he keeps having to answer awkward questions, and his response always seems to be the same: “It was a mistake”.
A couple of weeks ago on his TV show, Sean Hannity asked Gingrich why he sat on that couch with Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad, bleating about “climate change” (though Hannity didn’t ask it quite that way). Gingrich’s response? “It was a mistake”.
When asked why he called Paul Ryan’s budget proposal “right-wing social engineering”, his response? “It was a mistake”.
When asked why, back in 1995, he supported the idea of a government mandate that people buy health insurance, the equivalent of Obamacare, his response? “We were mistaken”.
His latest gaffe? In the GOP debate two days before Thanksgiving – a time when most people aren’t paying any attention to politics – he came out for, essentially, amnesty for illegal aliens. Yes, he tried to gussy it up, but there’s not enough lipstick in the world for that pig, as John McAmnesty learned three years ago.
What’s going to happen when people start paying attention to politics after the holidays, and he finds out how unpopular that position is? Is he going to admit another “mistake”?
How many “mistakes” does this guy get? How often does he get to be on the wrong side of the issues?
This is one of the big problems with Gingrich: he always thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room, and he’s arrogant enough to think that because he is, all he has to do is make a pronouncement and everyone else is going to fall in line and follow him blindly. He’s the personification of hubris. He believes his own press releases.
I’m not even going to raise the issue of his personal baggage, other than to say that if he went on a cruise, the ship would have to tow a barge behind to load it all in.
The fact that he’s polling so well illustrates one of the big weaknesses of the GOP: they always seem to fall in love – or at least lust – with whoever is the latest Stage Door Johnny with a line of patter and some snappy responses to the press … or in this case the debate moderators. Last time it was McCain the “maverick”; this time it’s Gingrich the “tough talker”.
When are they going to learn? Are they bent on being the Perpetually Stupid Party?
I take comfort in the fact that it’s still early in the race. At this time four years ago, it looked like Giuliani had it sewed up; McCain was on the verge of dropping out; Huckabee was running strong. Look how it turned out.
The GOP still has a chance to redeem itself.
Hopefully, they won’t have to say, “It was a mistake”.
© Brian Baker, 2011