Monday, January 2, 2012

Big Boys Don't Whine

When in power, Newt Gingrich did whatever was necessary to achieve his ambitions. In 1988 he spearheaded ethics charges against House Speaker Jim Wright, who'd made a questionable book deal, as Gingrich did, twice. After ending Wright's career, he pivoted right, criticizing his own caucus leader, longtime GOP leader Bob Michel, for being too cozy with Democrats, contributing to Michel's decision to retire. That meant Gingrich, not Michel, would be speaker after the GOP took back the House in 1994.

Which is why a Facebook friend mentioned karma in a Gingrich-related post today. In Iowa, Mitt Romney has used all legal means to blunt Gingrich's December surge. His super-PAC has, according to Gingrich, spent $3.5 million on sinister-looking ads about his 747-full of baggage, including, ironically enough, the book deal he made as speaker.

That's not the only irony. When the Supreme Court authorized unlimited super-PAC spending in its January 2010 Citizens United vs. FEC decision, reformers were outraged. President Obama called out justices to their faces at the SOTU. But Gingrich took the opposite view. Patrick Caldwell writes:
Before the recent wave of attacks [by Romney, Gingrich] had expressly favored loosening campaign finance restrictions. "I actually think that the Citizens United case is one of the best examples of a genuine strategy that I've seen in the years that I've been in Washington," Gingrich said in a video celebrating the one-year anniversary of the decision. "It's really one of the most sophisticated, methodical and serious strategies I've seen in my years looking at government. I think Dave [ Bossie, director of Citizens United] believed passionately that the heart of American liberty is the right of every citizen—whether you agree or disagree—to get up and be heard."
That's exactly what those running and funding Romney's super-PAC are doing -- getting up in Gingrich's face and being heard. Everybody knows Romney's people are calling the shots. Everybody knows that the beauty of the anti-Gingrich ads is that Romney's campaign didn't have to pay for them nor be explicitly associated with them. That's the whole idea of super-PACs. It's why reformers didn't like Citizens United and Gingrich did.

Ruthlessly and cunningly, Romney used the system as he found it to tear down an opponent, just as Gingrich did to get power. The former speaker's been complaining all weekend. Big boys don't whine.

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