Reprehensible,’ says Newt
Newt is nonplussed by all the negativity.
He thought he had it all figured out—he’d be friendly and warm, perfectly aglow with futuristic ideas, but with tons of experience, too! He’d be the roly-poly, ever-smiling, ever-pleasant grandpa, smart as a whip, but without a nasty word to say about any of his Republican rivals.
Even to call them “rivals”—why, they’re all friends up on that stage, aren’t they? All committed to a common goal, aren’t they? All perfectly agreed that nothing good can come from focusing on one another’s weak points. On their various vulnerabilities. On their baggage.
Somebody forgot to tell the other guys.
Turns out Newt’s non-aggression pact was a nonstarter. Turns out Newt’s baggage—political, personal, psychological—was just too inviting a target, especially once he started pulling away from the rest of the GOP pack.
Which is why you might have heard a recent word or two about Newt and Freddie Mac. About Newt and a relatively large sum of money—we’ll agree that $1.6 million is a relatively large sum of money, yes?—he received for helping Freddie Mac.
(This is totally distinct, you understand, from Newt’s suggestion that other people who helped Freddie Mac—Democrats, for instance—should go to jail for doing it. Newt didn’t think Newt should go to jail. Newt thought Newt should go to the bank.)
This didn’t go down well with his fellow candidates, who had the bad manners to keep bringing it up, in TV ads and debates and speeches, along with colorful descriptive phrases like “influence peddling,” and “serial hypocrisy.”
Newt, meanwhile, had the bad form to keep shifting his explanation of why Freddie Mac had thought he was worth all that money. First there was the famously laughable “historian” excuse. Really? Housing-bubble “historians” were even more expensive than houses?
Then he was merely offering “strategic advice,” but never-never-never did he do any lobbying! (Although the distinction between Newt meeting with members of Congress on behalf of Freddie Mac, which would be lobbying, and Newt advising Freddie Mac officials about which members of Congress they should meet with and what they should say, which apparently wouldn’t be, is probably lost on the average human being.)
Meanwhile, Newt kept taking punches. So then another attempt to wriggle free: It wasn’t as if the $1.6 million from Freddie Mac was one big check made out to him. Nosiree!
“We had a company,” Newt explained. “The company had three different offices. We were paid annually for six years, so the numbers you see are six years of work.”
Not only that, Newt explained, but “most of that money went to pay for overhead, for staff, for other things. It didn’t go directly to me. It went to the company that provided consulting advice.” (His company, but let’s not be picky.)
Freddie Mac loot kept the light-bulb account funded, and the legal-pad account, too. Salaries for secretaries. Chips and dip—that sort of thing. Freddie Mac money barely soiled Newt’s own pockets, you see. (Of course, if Freddie Mac’s $1.6 million went to overhead and such, wouldn’t that free up some other $1.6 million for other, more lucrative purposes? Perish the thought!)
And anyway, Newt insisted, since he was already making $60,000 a pop for his speeches, whatever little bit of Freddie Mac money eventually wound up in his own wallet was hardly worth mentioning! Which is, presumably, why he avoided mentioning it for so long.
His fellow candidates seem to be picking up the slack quite nicely though; they’re definitely making up for lost time. Technically speaking, they’re pounding him to a pulp.
And Newt? Well, he’s disappointed in them.
“The only person who profits from Republican ads attacking other Republicans is Barack Obama,”
Newt declared in Iowa on Monday, “and I think that’s pretty reprehensible behavior.”
And Newt knows reprehensible behavior.
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.