An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich
Dear Mr. Speaker:
You didn’t -- and wouldn't -- ask for my advice, but here it is because even you would be better than a second Obama term in office.
Sir, you have more baggage than the underbelly of an Airbus 380. Women don't cotton to serial adulterers: a marriage to you looks more like a high-risk adventure than a sanctuary of security. As you well know, women do vote, and have, ever since passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1920.
Why was it, I wondered last night, that you were the only candidate who said the other three candidates' wives would all make excellent first ladies. You and your admirers may have found that approach magnanimous and gracious. I found it creepy. You can't stand Mitt but you really like his wife? If I were you, I would have confined my answer to Callista, and not implied that you've been sizing up the other wives on that long, hot campaign trail.
You make a lot of men nervous about your candidacy, too. There was the $300,000 penalty you paid for ethics violations when you were speaker of the House. Yeah, everyone in the debate hall cheers you when you beat up on the MSM, but we all know that the job of the next president is to save the economy, keep nuclear weapons out of Ahmadinejad’s hands, make the United States more energy independent, and, as a result, revive the private sector so that businesses will thrive and hire again.
Being feisty with Juan Williams, John King, and Ann Curry isn’t going to cut it in the Oval Office. This country has far bigger problems than the MSM.
Your problem isn’t failure to rouse an audience to applaud you. Your problem is that you say so much and say it so fast that invariably you say things that make no sense or are outright lies. And you appear to have no problem hiding the truth.
Saying you’ve been hired as an advisor by the governments’s mega-housing and mortgage agencies because of your skills as an historian is like my saying that PJM hired me as a chef. Sure, I can cook, but I was hired as an advice columnist. You were hired as an operator (an “influence peddler.") Mitt called you on it on Saturday and Senator Santorum repeated it last night: it resonates and you're stuck with it. You can’t run away from it -- because it’s true.
That’s your biggest problem: the way you deal with your past. The New York Sun published an editorial by R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. about you on Wednesday titled "William Jefferson Gingrich." You have that same fast-on-your-feet, used car salesman answer-to-every-customer's-reasonable-objections facile manner that Bubba does. The Sun didn’t intend that headline as a compliment.
Wriggle as much as you’d like, it won’t help. So, what will?
(1) Own up to Old Newt. Don’t pretend he’s not in the room. He’s in there. Even for voters too young (or, alas, too old) to remember him, he’s there. They’ll learn more and more about him with each passing day. Or hour.
Old Newt and Bubba morph into one: you both think you’re smarter than everyone else and that you can say anything and that people are just too darned stupid to be able to discern the truth from the lies.
(2) Holding yourself out as a creature who hasn’t made serious mistakes isn’t going to work. It won’t wash. We’re not as stupid as you think -- or wish.
Senator Rick Santorum injected some good sense into last night's debate by suggesting that the candidates and those posing questions to them stipulate that you used the skills honed in Congress in your life as a "consultant" after you left the House and that Governor Romney is a very wealthy man who became wealthy by his own hard work. That was refreshing.
(3) You, too, could be refreshing if you not only acknowledged that you’ve made mistakes, but if you got out ahead of them and listed them yourself. Yes, tell the American people what you think your top ten mistakes have been.
(4) Then apologize for them. Say you understand you've made errors of judgment for which you apologize to the individuals whom you hurt or whom you've treated unfairly, and that includes Governor Mitt Romney.
Interesting factoid for you to chew on: physicians who apologize to patients for their errors of judgment are less likely to be sued for malpractice than those doctors who cleave to what they imagine is their aura of infallibility.
(5) Tell the public what you’ve learned from your mistakes and why whatever wisdom you’ve gleaned would be useful to the country if you were president.
Many of your fans believe you provide great entertainment. Sometimes, you do. But by that measure, Dan Aykroyd and Martin Short should be president. Luckily for you, they were both born in Canada. When all is said and done, your entertainment value is irrelevant to your potential success as president.
You’re applying for a job, and the ability to do that job depends -- more than any other single quality -- on good judgment. You will do yourself the most good if you give Americans some reason to believe you now possess that quality so lacking in your past. Simple fact about forgiveness: no one -- voters included -- will forgive you unless you apologize.
Older voters are reliable voters. Anyone your age or older has made mistakes and learned from them. We all, young, middle-aged, and older Americans, deserve to know what you think your missteps were. Your present plan appears to be to deny your mistakes, other than your infidelities. This will not work, Mr. Speaker.
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but post-Bill Clinton and post-Obama voters are more savvy about fast-talking pols than they were before 1992 and 2008. And the blogosphere has grown exponentially since 2008.
Americans want to know how you would turn America into a “country not in decline” as you said last night. Yes, you’re an “idea man.” So was Samuel Goldwyn, but he was a legendary Hollywood producer, not the president of the United States. Pie-in-the-sky – or up-on-the-moon -- ideas aren’t the same as practical plans.
(6) Be more respectful of others, including your competition within your own party. The belittling of the MSM is going to get stale, as well. Yes, you express the “we’re mad as hell and we don’t want to take it any more” emotion sweeping the country, but remember that the first part of that phrase is “we’re mad.”
King George III was mad, too, and partly because of that, the American colonies rebelled against him and started their own country. There’s a little history you might want to bear in mind as you go forward.