Newt Gingrich got more than he bargained for on a trip to Dubuque yesterday. Almost as soon as it's begun the campaign of blowhard Newt Gingrich seems over. Once he used to words "right-wing social engineering" on yesterday's Meet the Press you knew it wouldn't take long for the knives to come out. And they haven't. This clip is from Fox News' evening newscast, no less. (For the longer segment see below.) This cannot have been how Gingrich imagined his
ego-trip campaign would begin, greeted with scorn and ridicule, a chorus of catcalls from within his own party.
IOWAN: What you just did to Paul Ryan is unforgivable.
GINGRICH: I didn't do anything to Paul Ryan.
IOWAN: Yes, you did. You undercut him.... you're an embarrassment to our party.
GINGRICH: I'm sorry you feel that way.
IOWAN: Why don't you get out before you make a bigger fool of yourself?
And other influential figures on the right have been just as vociferous in their condemnation. George Will pooh-poohed, declaring flat-out that Gingrich is "not a serious candidate." Rush Limbaugh sounded the call about cutting Paul Ryan "off at the knees", then dutifully repeated ad nauseam by others.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: The inexplicable Newt Gingrich. I'm getting e-mails all morning, "Rush, would you explain?" Why do I have to explain it? No, no, no. I mean I'll be happy to explain it under the rubric that I'm the boss, but I'm not gonna justify this. I am not gonna justify this. I'm not gonna explain this. The attack on Paul Ryan. The support for an individual mandate in health care? Folks, don't ask me to explain this. There is no explanation. (interruption) What do you mean if I don't explain it, who will? There is no explanation for it. First off, it cuts Paul Ryan off at the knees. It supports the Obama administration in the lawsuits that 26 states have filed over the mandate. I guess back in 1993 Newt supported an individual mandate, everybody should buy insurance? I am befuddled as anybody else is is what I'm telling you. I can't explain it. We could sit here and say, "Well, trying to carve a niche. Well, trying to set himself up as something different."
He also said that social engineering is bad whether it's right wing social engineering or left-wing social engineering. We're not social engineering anything. We're trying to reduce the size of government. My God, it is inexplicable, is my point. Obviously I haven't spoken to Newt or anybody on his team about this. But it's not explainable. There's no way that I can sit here and give you a rational set of reasons that you may not have thought of. I read that and I'm scratching my head like all the rest of you when you read it or when you heard it. It's just mind boggling.
And Rich Lowry at The National Review:
He can’t help himself. Gingrich prefers extravagant lambasting when a mere distancing would do, and the over-arching theoretical construct to a mundane pander. He is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement — sometimes brilliant, always interesting, and occasionally downright absurd.
It’s Newt’s misfortune to want a high-pressure executive job with monarchical trappings where steadfastness and dignity matter. When he was Speaker of the House, he alienated his colleagues (some of whom roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name) and dragged himself, his family, and his party through a psychodrama. If he were to replicate that performance in the White House, it’d be a formula for a LBJ- or Nixon-style meltdown.
And South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley just weighed in on CNN, basically mouthing Limbaugh's earlier take:
"What he said was absolutely unfortunate," Haley told CNN in a phone interview. "Here you've got Representative Ryan trying to bring common sense to this world of insanity, and Newt absolutely cut him off at the knees."
"When you have a conservative fighting for real change, the last thing we need is a presidential candidate cutting him off at the knees," she added.
And I'm sure this is just a taste of the condemnation and ridicule already out there.