Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sarah Palin says Newt will "soar," but will his ex-wife's allegations finally be his undoing?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

***UPDATED BELOW***

I'm beginning to think this may be the most important single day of the 2012 Republican presidential race so far, with the race tightening in South Carolina, key conservatives backing Newt, the Marianne Gingrich interview later, another debate (possibly meaning a boost for Newt, who does so well in debates), a retro victory for Santorum in Iowa...

It may certainly be the wildest day.

Romney is still the frontrunner and likely nominee, but today may prove, in retrospect, to have been a turning point, one way or the other.

Read on...

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Via twitter: 

Palin: Ex-wife's allegations will help Newt "soar" (link) (story)

-- Talking Points Memo (@TPM)

Palin may be right that a lot of what Marianne Gingrich has to say is "old news," and I was thinking earlier today that the damage to Newt might be minimal if she avoided the more sordid details -- in part because those who like Newt do so not because they think he's a saint but because they think he'll punch President Obama in the face (figuratively but maybe also literally) and in part because Newt has already owned up to much of his bad behavior, "found God," and been largely absolved by conservatives.

But now I'm not so sure. The talk all day in the media is about the "open" marriage Newt wanted as a way of enabling his cheating, and basically about his self-righteous, egomaniacal bullying of his wife, about how he was out to get what he wanted, largely disregarded her, and ruined her life. This wasn't just bad behavior. This was abuse.

There are still many who will excuse him his ugly transgressions, like Palin and Dear Leader Rush (who thinks Newt's a victim), but there are surely a lot more, even among Republicans, who will recoil in disgust.

There may yet be a way for him to get out of this -- by admitting again to some things, denying others; by saying he really is a different and better person now; by using it as an occasion to bash the media (always a favotite Newt deflectional tactic); by taking the high road with respect to his wife (I loved her, she's a great person, but we had our problems, common to many married couples) while implying that she's crazy, a liar, or both; by alleging that Romney's behind this "attack" somehow, just days before the South Carolina primary -- but it's getting more and more difficult to see how this doesn't hurt him badly, if not destroy what's left of his campaign.

And somewhere, whether he's behind this or not, Romney, who otherwise has been having a terrible day (Santorum certified the winner in Iowa; Perry dropping out and endorsing Newt; new polls showing his lead dwindling rapidly in South Carolina, and even Newt ahead; Newt getting a big-time Tea Party endorsement; another debate coming up tonight, another occasion for Newt to shine), must surely be thinking he's one of the luckiest people in the world.

If he isn't, he should be. As terribly weak as he is, everything seems to be breaking his way, with the nomination all but his by default.

UPDATES:

I see Jon Chait has a post up on Romney's run of incredible luck (or incredible run of luck, however you want to look at it):

Everything has gone Romney’s way. A slew of credible opponents all declined to run, or dropped out prematurely (poor, poor Tim Pawlenty.) He was mistakenly credited with winning the Iowa caucuses. The opponents who have challenged him all self-destructed, and when persistent unease with Romney resurrected them, they self-destructed again.

Yup.

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Here's the full Palin quote, via ThinkProgress:

I call them dumbarses. They, thinking that by trotting out this old Gingrich divorce interview that's old news — and it does feature a disgruntled ex, claiming that it would destroy his campaign — all it does, Sean, is incentive conservatives and independents who are so sick of the politics of personal destruction, because it’s played so selectively by media, that their target, in this case Newt, he’s now going to soar even more. Because we know the game now, and we just won't put up with it.

So, good call media! Way to go to covertly hype this, even Gingrich opponents, for being so brilliant they sure are dumb. 

Ah, yes, when in doubt, attack the media. But even if the media is guilty of taking advantage of a salacious story, Marianne Gingrich isn't the media. She has every right to be heard.

**********

ABC News reports on the interview:

Newt Gingrich lacks the moral character to serve as President, his second ex-wife Marianne told ABC News, saying his campaign positions on the sanctity of marriage and the importance of family values do not square with what she saw during their 18 years of marriage.

In her first television interview since the 1999 divorce, to be broadcast tonight on Nightline, Marianne Gingrich, a self-described conservative Republican, said she is coming forward now so voters can know what she knows about Gingrich. 

As I suggest above in how Newt can effectively respond to all this, he is indeed taking the high road, with his two daughters from his first marriage providing useful cover:

Gingrich declined to comment to ABC News for this report, but told NBC's Today Show Thursday morning he would not "say anything negative about Marianne."

"Now, I'll let my daughters speak for it... I'm not going to comment beyond that because I'm focused on the big issues that concern the American people, which are the current challenges we have, largely because of the failure of the Obama presidency," he said.

It's not terribly responsible of him to let his daughters be his surrogates on such a deeply personal matter, but he's obviously doing what he can to minimize the likely negative impact of the story. And you can see how he's trying to minimize the importance of the story and trying to position himself as above it all, and trying to guilt the media into not taking it seriously -- what do his past marital problems matter compared to "the big issues that concern the American people"?

I'm not sure it'll work, but it's all he's got.

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1 Comments:

  • Somebody let the whirly weasels out of the bag, good luck trying to figure where everyone will end up. Newt could get a big boost, or his campaign could get knocked silly. Mitt could sew up the nomination, or he could end up sub-Newt. This is some of the craziest stuff I've ever seen. Right-wing chaos, plenty good by me.

    By Anonymous toma, at 9:05 PM  

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