Ten Conservatives Vs. Newt: With Friends Like These…

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Conservative opinion writers are competing in something of an arms race to see who can describe Newt Gingrich, whom most of them despise, in the most apocalyptic terms. Here’s a list, from The New Yorker, of ten of the most over-the-top takedowns from the right of the former Speaker of the House and current Republican Presidential frontrunner:

  1. George Will: “Gingrich … embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive…. There is almost artistic vulgarity in Gingrich’s unrepented role as a hired larynx for interests profiting from such government follies as ethanol and cheap mortgages. His Olympian sense of exemption from standards and logic allowed him, fresh from pocketing $1.6 million from Freddie Mac (for services as a “historian”), to say, ‘If you want to put people in jail,’ look at ‘the politicians who profited from’ Washington’s environment.”
  2. Michael Gershon: “As president, Gingrich would be forced to repudiate his previous views out of strategic necessity. But those views demonstrate a disturbing tendency: the passionate embrace of shallow ideas.”
  3. Kathleen Parker: “[N]o one other than Callista Gingrich thinks her husband can prevail in a general election. No. One…. Instead of rallying to support him, former colleagues are going out of their way to politely say, ‘He can’t lead.’…. Another insider speaking to me privately was blunter: ‘He’s unstable, and everybody knows it, but no one wants to say it.’”
  4. Quin Hillyer: “[T]he power of the Gingrich surge does show, again, a lesson taught well by neo-Nazi David Duke when Duke was ascendant in Louisiana politics two decades ago. When considering a candidate for office, almost right up until they enter the polling booth and sometimes even in the booth itself, most voters rely more on what they see and hear themselves in real time than on facts, history, logic, or learned experience.”
  5. Jonah Goldberg: “The other night while having drinks with some prominent conservatives, I said I thought there was a significant chance that Gingrich will not only win the nomination but that he might be the next president. Going by their expressions, I might as well have said I put a slow-acting poison in their cocktails.”
  6. David Brooks: “[Gingrich] has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with ’60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form.
    “As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican Party if nominated. He would severely damage the Hamilton-Theodore Roosevelt strain in American life.”
  7. Ramesh Ponnuru: “[Gingrich] is still erratic…. He still has the same old grandiosity…. He still has the same need to justify his every petty move by reference to some grand theory…. He still has a casual relationship with the truth…. He still has the same penchant for sharing whatever revelation has just struck him….”
  8. Jennifer Rubin: “The warnings and criticisms [from conservatives] fell into four distinct categories. The first is that Gingrich isn’t a staunch conservative but an opportunist who will gladly stab the right in the back for personal gain. The second is that his character is so flawed that he’s not fit to hold the presidency. (Only one issue concerns his serial infidelity….) The third is that he’s not the new Newt at all and continues to dissemble on everything from his lobbying work to his undermining of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The fourth is that he made millions lobbying (yes, lobbying) for big government on behalf of clients opposed to conservative principles.”
  9. Mona Charen: “Newt Gingrich is a bad bet because he will embarrass the Republican party. He will do so through things he has already said and done, and in ways we cannot predict except to be sure—because character will out—that they will happen.”
  10. Joe Scarborough: “He is not a nice human being. He is a bad person when it comes to demonizing opponents. When he puts on his political helmet he is a terrible person…. Let me tell you something: the Republican establishment will never make peace with Newt Gingrich. They just won’t. They won’t. This is an important point. Because the Republicans I talk to say he cannot win the nomination at any cost. He will destroy our party. He will re-elect Barack Obama, and we’ll be ruined.”

Read the full article at The New Yorker Online…


Paul Ryan’s $350 Bottle of Wine?

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Remember John Edwards‘s $400 haircut? That turned out to be quite a problem for him. It looks like Paul Ryan is about have a similar problem on his hands.

According to this astounding article (with pictures) at Talking Points Memo, Ryan — the leader of the tighten-your-belt, fiscal-austerity crowd — is in the habit of drinking $350-a-bottle wine, specifically Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru. In fact, Ryan enjoyed two bottles of this fancy Pinor Noir while dining the other night with a pair of conservative economists at Bistro Bis, the swanky Capitol Hill restaurant favored by lobbyists and other expense-account barons.

Ryan had the misfortune of sitting at the table next to Susan Feinberg, a Rutgers business professor, who didn’t share his nonchalance about calling for draconian budget cuts for the poor and elderly by day and then sipping $350-a-bottle wine by night.
Feinberg confronted Ryan after dinner and demanded to know “how he could live with himself.” Confronted by TPM, Ryan did not deny the story, but lamely pleaded ignorance about the cost of the wine. And he was rather ungallant to Ms. Feinberg, whom he called “crazy.”
If there’s any justice in the world, Ryan ought to get at least as much grief for this as Edwards got. And if I were President Obama’s adviser, I’d suggest that he add $350 wine to that line about Republicans defending corporate jets and hedge-fund fat cats.