How can anyone forget John McCain, busily hawking the same old same old we’d been seeing out of the GOP for the past eight years-plus trying to sell himself as a “maverick”? It was the theater of the absurd. By definition, McCain would have had to been willing to do something no other conservative was willing to do and if there was such a thing he was unable to articulate it (and no, being the only one willing to call yourself a maverick doesn’t count).
Remember how the Obama campaign dismantled those claims?
Undeterred by McCain’s failure, Newt Gingrich wants to do the same thing: The twenty-year veteran of the House of Representatives says he is an “outsider.” He wants everyone to know that he is not one of the “elites in Washington and New York.” Only Newt Gingrich, he says, represents a conservative-populist approach.
Just to be clear on this, he says “I’m the people’s candidate, not the capital’s candidate.”
But like McCain the maverick he says he is going to bring change to Washington and that the political establishment is afraid – very afraid. This is what he sold ABC’s Good Morning America yesterday: “They are very frightened by the idea of a genuine outsider.”
Watch the video from Hulu:
This is probably true. But you, Mr. Gingrich, are not an outsider.
This was not his only attempt at establishing this narrative; when he declared victory in the South Carolina primary he claimed that the elites in Washington (of which he is not one, he claims) “have no understanding, no care, no concern, no reliability,” and are trying to “force us to quit being American.”
Forget about the mythical “liberal elites” Republicans like to talk about – the elites are the 1 percent and they are conservatives to the core. Just focus on the “outsider” bit. Reality really doesn’t enter into Republican thinking at all, does it? Twenty years in Congress, four as Speaker of the House. And he’s an outsider. For the math challenged, that’s ten terms. TEN. And 7,300 votes in Congress. That’s a lot of votes for an outsider.
As to that, as the Los Angeles Times puts it, “At 67, Gingrich…has worked in D.C. as a legislator, business consultant, policy theorist, and author for the better part of 30 years…” Mitt Romney accurately depicts him as a lobbyist (which Gingrich denies while somehow managing to call Romney dishonest) and calls his post House-career “influence peddling.”
Part of that consulting was done for mortgage giant Freddie Mac to the tune of $1.6 million from 1999 to 2008. But he’s an outsider, he says. As an outsider, what could he have possibly had to sell Freddie Mac?
I’ve never held office. I am an outsider. So are most of you.
Gingrich is not.
Of course he has no problem saying he IS an insider when he thinks it helps his cause, for example, his reputation as a job creator for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He brags about helping to create the Republican majority in Congress as well, a neat trick for an outsider.
Huh? And maybe an Oops!
Guess he can’t take credit after all, since he’s by his own admission an outsider and could not possibly therefore have had any influence on job creation. Only insiders can do that.
Gingrich isn’t all that different from Romney – or most politicians for that matter – who somehow equate the concept of honesty with saying anything that will get you elected – and then saying something else later. After selling himself as a maverick McCain now says he never considered himself a maverick (wonder who was impersonating him during the ’08 campaign then?). He said it was laughable – and in that, at least, he was right. It was.
Perhaps, like McCain, Gingrich will also realize (when it is no longer convenient) that he was never an outsider. He is already having problems embracing the idea because of his need to sell his insider accomplishments.
As a final thought, McCain and Gingrich had almost identical scores from the American Conservative Union (ACU) in 1994: 96 and 100 percent respectively. In ’95, when Gingrich became Speaker of the House, their scores were 91 and 100. Neither qualifies as outsiders or mavericks as their lifetime 82 and 90 percent voting scores indicate, grades most students would relish – a B and a B+/A. No, these men are both proud members of the conservative establishment. But keep it up, Newt. We need something to laugh about.