Copyright 2012 by John T. Reed

Tired of hearing what a brilliant debater Gingrich is and how he knocked the question about his asking his second wife for an open marriage out of the park.

The underlying analysis seems to be that the American people are morons—too true—and that Gingrich is brilliant at manipulating those morons into thinking he is the best candidate to be president.

We’re not all morons and blown away by bombast and raising one’s voice.

Here is a transcript of the beginning of the 1/19/12 CNN Republican Southern Presidential Debate and my comments about each point.

Gingrich said

My comments

asked if he wanted to respond to his second wife Marianne’s comments said “No”

This was met by raucous cheering “Newt, Newt” from his hard core supporters, the American equivalent of the people shown crying hysterically for the death of their “Dear Leader” in North Korea. The only home run Gingrich hit at the CNN debate was packing the audience with hundreds of shriek-at-anything-Newt-says true believers.

I was a delegate to Jersey Boys State in 1963. We were organized into parties and the week culminated in nominating conventions where we 16-year olds screamed our heads off supporting OUR guy for governor. (Bill Clinton went to Arkansas Boys State that summer and was elected boy governor leading to his meeting JFK at the White House.) That was followed by an election. Our guy made a final speech where he, like Gingrich, whined excessively about process and unfair tactics by the other side. I should have changed my vote at that time, but I was so pumped up for MY guy that I still voted for him. I regret it. He was not the best candidate. He lost. It made a powerful impression on me that I was swayed like that by the mob and ever since when I feel that mob psychology taking over I back away. The screaming Newt supporters in South Carolina on CNN apparently have not yet earned that lesson.

The great speakers of the last century or so include FDR, Hitler, Mussolini, Huey Long, Winston Churchill, JFK, George Wallace, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson, Barack Obama. Not all bad guys, but enough of a mixed bag to give warning about great speakers. Great speaking is a sign of great speaking not a sign of general greatness. It does not precludes being a good leader, but neither does it prove it.

A reader says I previously said Obama was not a good speaker and wondered what changed my mind. Nothing. In that article I was talking about substance. There is no substance to the speeches of many on this list like Obama, Long, and Hitler. People were spell bound by them but no one remembers what they said or quotes their speeches. They are all style. But setting aside that distinction, all these guys have the ability to captivate an audience.

but I will

a flip flop within the length of one sentence. Logically, one would think those cheering the “no” would suddenly go silent upon hearing it reversed. That crowd would have gone nuts if Newt had urinated on the CNN host or spit on the American flag or pulled out a yoyo and played with it.

I think the destructive vicious negative nature of much of the news media…

Politicians like Gingrich are every bit as destructive and vicious as mainstream news media like CNN. For example, politicians routinely have opposition research teams that do nothing but dig up dirt on opponents and run ads from Willie Horton to the anti-Goldwater nuclear daisy picker to the Paul Ryan pushing an old lady in a wheel chair off a cliff. The media does not run negative ads against competitors or against politicians. What Gingrich is “good” at is rapid-fire, intellectually-dishonest debate tactics—policy wonk trash talking. I wrote a web article about dishonest debate tactics. Two are evident in this comment: name-calling, including use of the word “negative” which is precisely the word I had used in the debate article to illustrate a typical meaningless name used for that purpose; and changing the subject.

The subject is his second wife’s allegation that he asked her to agree to an open marriage. Refusing to comment is a legit debate tactic, albeit more refusal to debate than debate. But changing the subject to unspecified behavior of “much of the news media” is a dishonest attempt to turn the spotlight away from the subject of the question. The debate was about which Republican candidate should be the nominee. Gingrich’s position is no comment on his wife’s statements. I would have no complaint if he said that or denied them. But the attack on “much of the media” was neither the advertised topic nor pertinent the open-marriage question.

makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office

True and true but not the advertised subject on a program titled “The Southern Republican Presidential Debate.”

And note the phrase “decent people.”

Is a request by a husband that his wife agree to an open marriage germane to whether a particular candidate is himself “decent people?” Absolutely. So having initially said his second wife’s allegations were irrelevant, he now makes them relevant by alleging the Thursday night debate is about “decent people…run[ning] for public office.” Moderator John King should have followed up with do “decent people cheat on their wives and ask that their original faithful-until-death-do-us-part marriage vow be renegotiated to an open marriage?”

They do not. Decent people also do not twice—so far in Newt’s case—start new romantic relationships before they are divorced. Decent people are not sanctioned for “intentional or reckless” disregard of House rules ethics violations by a 395-28 vote of the House of which they were recently speaker, or get fined $300,000 for ethics violations.

The following decent people are or were in the Republican presidential nomination race: Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney. We lost one indecent peson—Herman Cain—and that was good riddance. Now we have the unethical, serial adulterer, open marriage, most indecent presidential candidate in modern history (Clinton and JFK did not get divorced or run out of town on ethics violations; Nixon didn’t even cheat on his wife)—Gingrich—and he is successfully convincing the American people that the indecent, despicable, bad guy is CNN’s John King, not Gingrich. King’s current wife is also his first, fellow CNN reporter Donna Bash.

and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that

Gee, I would have said he was more rehearsed to deal with it than appalled that it was asked.

Prolonged, extreme screams of “Newt! Newt!” and standing ovation from the “Dear Leader Newt” cult.

Every person in here knows personal pain

We’re not talking about personal pain, Newt. It’s a presidential debate. The only personal pain being discussed is what you inflicted on your first two wives by divorcing them—admitted—and possibly by asking the second wife to an open marriage—denied. It is false to say or imply that “everyone in here” did that to their spouse, or even that they all cheated on their spouses, although that may be true for those giving the standing O.

Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things.

Yeah, we did Newt. Illness, death, job loss, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, divorce. But everyone in here has not inflicted gratuitous painful things on someone close to them. You did that, but to suggest that you are no worse than everyone in here is obvious bullshit. The plain fact is you are worse than most of the people in here in that regard. You were a rotten husband to at least your first two wives and you did it in a profoundly selfish, self-centered way. There is no evidence that has been presented yet that either of them deserved it. They held up their end of the marriage. You completely blew off your end and there were no extenuating circumstances that we know of.

To take an ex-wife

Let it be noted that Newt was the only one on the stage who has an ex-wife—indeed he has two ex-wives

and make it two days before the primary

1. The ex-wife chose the date, not CNN

2. Dontcha love people who complain about timing like this? When should they have revealed it, Newt? Three days before the Ames Iowa Straw Poll? One day before the Iowa Caucuses? Two days after the New Hampshire primary? C’mon, Newt I’m trying to work with you here. What date was, or will be in the future, the date that is okay to reveal that your second wife said you asked her for an open marriage? The fact is no date is okay isn’t it, Newt? When I was a landlord, tenants used to complain that they should not be expected to pay the rent on time when the first-of-the-month due date was near a holiday. Half the months fit that description. Nice try.

a significant question in the presidential campaign

What questions are significant is in the eye of the beholder. And there is no question this will be considered significant by many. It was front page news on all three of the daily newspapers we get.

Gingrich can argue that he thinks it is not a significant question. But the fact that he says it’s not significant is not dispositive.

This is a guy who claims to be the primo family values conservative guy. Whether he talks a better game than he plays is fair game. If this is not a significant issue in the campaign, then neither are family values and that begs the question of why he talks about those in the presidential campaign. He is two-faced and this is the the party hardy, screw-your-marriage vows face that he does not want revealed. Then don’t run for president. He can’t stand the heat, but he thinks he can bluff the stove into leaving the kitchen. If Americans are as big a bunch of morons as the pundits and Gingrich think, he can.

is as close to despicable as I can imagine.

Boy, this sentence goes on forever doesn’t it? He is channeling Sarah Palin here in terms of sentence structure. Having trouble getting my head around him being the smartest man in the room and her being the dumbest person on earth and yet here he is rambling just like she often does. As far as I knew, neither Sarah nor her husband have, or sought, or acted like they already had an open marriage.

Despicable, adjective, contemptible, that is or deserves to be despised; mean; vile; worthless

Gingrich’s treatment of his first two wives is arguably more aptly described as despicable than John King asking him if he wanted to comment on his second wife’s open marriage allegation. Ditto his ethics violation.

Once again, the Mob for Newt folks went into orgasms of joy over this brilliant put down of the CNN moderator.

my two daughters

Kathy Gingrich Lubbers, president of Gingrich Communications and Jackie Gingrich Cushman who is an author including co-authoring a book with Newt, conservative columnist, and political commentator. These are the daughters of Jackie Battley, Gingrich’s first wife, whom he met when she taught him geometry in high school. He was 19 and she was 26 when they married. Gingrich claims she requested the divorce. In fact the divorce documents were obtained by CNN through legal action. They say Jackie had asked a judge to block the process stating that although "she has adequate and ample grounds for divorce... she does not desire one at this time [and] does not admit that this marriage is irretrievably broken."

In view of Gingrich’s lack of concern about waiting for the legally acceptable time to start romantic relationships, I am curious about when that one got physical. I have no experience with dating one’s high school teachers and never even heard of such a thing until media stories in recent years. It would appear that Newt hopes to be America’s Silvio Burlesconi—a real lady’s man.

Please note that daughter Kathy is not president of Battley Communications and that Jackie has not co-authored a book with Jackie and that neither daughter is likely to be as famous and powerful if they support their step mother as if they support dad and he wins the presidency.

wrote the head of ABC

Is the guy who claims he should be the most powerful man in the world hiding behind his daughters? What would the daughters of his first wife know about a private conversation between Newt and his second wife about sex?

and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it

This sound like what the Federal Rules of Evidence call expert testimony. Only experts can testify as to their opinion in court. Before they do, the lawyer who hired them must persuade the judge to certify that they are experts on the issue about which they will be testifying. Conflicts of interest are permissible lines of inquiry during the direct and cross examination of such witnesses. In this case, these two women have zero expertise about the wrongness of the second wife’s allegations and about whether a TV network should cease broadcasting those allegations. And they have about a thousand tons of conflict of interest.

If Newt has fact or qualified expert evidence to present with regard to the truthfulness of the he-said-she-aid allegations, he should present it. His two daughters writing a letter isn’t anything remotely resembling such evidence.

that CNN would take trash like that

name calling, assumes facts not in evidence, namely that the allegations are false or irrelevant, conclusory

and use it to open a presidential debate

Hottest story of the day, bud. Check the Internet to see what the American people are searching for online. Journalists put the stories of most interest on the top of the front page. It is more tabloid than most, but the Wall Street Journal is no tabloid and they decided because of the implied hypocrisy on the part of a presidential candidate who claims to be the most conservative one that it was the story to be on their top-of-the-fold font page location.

It would have been inappropriate to open the debate with a tabloid story about Lindsay Lohan or some such, but not about a Mr. Family Values presidential candidate on the stage.

Prolonged applause from the will-take-a-bullet-for-Newt audience members. What were they applauded? How loud he yells? How red his face gets? Anger? Emotion? Attacking the hated media? I mean what he said is not going to be taught in great speeches courses, although how he said it might.

Now let me be quite clear

As opposed to what?

Obama loves to use that expression, too. I thought we were getting rid of him.

The story is false

What’s this? He just spent five minutes saying it was irrelevant and despicable and does not belong in a presidential debate, especially as the first question, and now he’s flip-flopping and contradicting each and every one of those positions. I guess he didn’t know who that was with all the anger—must have been that same unknown person who sat on the sofa with Nancy Pelosi and said we have to stop Global Warming.

This is the first substantive statement out of his mouth in the debate. He’s calling his second wife a liar. She looked pretty credible to me. He looked pretty incredible flailing around about it.

So let’s go back to the second wife and ask her reaction to being called a liar. I am guessing she may offer corroborating facts from her adventures with Newt during the later stages of their marriage.

Every personal friend I had who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false.

More expert witnesses with no conflicts of interest who were present for the conversations in question.

Sorry ABC was not interested, Newt, but we are. Trot ’em out and have them start by telling us how they could possibly know this private conversation did not happen and about any conflict of interest they may have that might make them more eager to see you be president than they are to see Marianne exonerated from lying.

They weren’t interested because they would like to attack any Republican. They’re attacking the governor. They’re attacking me. I’m sure they’ll presently get around to attacking Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul. I’m tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.

Gee, Newt. Take a sip of this decaf. It’s going to be okay.

Is this your first day in politics? Is there a vast left-wing conspiracy against you? Aren’t you the one who said he was going to run a positive campaign? Aren’t you running for president, not chief media critic? What does any of this have to do with jobs and the deficit and national security? And if the answer is nothing, why didn’t you just say the story was false and let it go at that?

Wethinks the candidate doth protest too much.

He spent much of the beginning of the campaign complaining about super pacs ads against him. Pundits call this “process.” And they criticize him for focusing too much on the campaign process and too little on the future of America and why he is the best candidate.

It’s not all about Newt, but Newt seems never to have figured that out in his 68 years. The first thing he did, at age 27, at his first job, teaching history at an obscure college, was apply to be president of the college. He was later fired (denied tenure).

‘Let ’er rip!’

This guy is dangerous. He is, in part, a writer. So am I. I recently participated in a writers group that met for several hours every other week or so for 13 meetings. One of the phrases I and another experienced writer-publisher in the group found ourselves telling the novice writers repeatedly was “Let ’er rip!”

By that we meant that the novice writers should not be so reticent about letting readers see what they were thinking. They should let what is in their minds and hearts pour out unrestrained. Public speaking and writing are very similar. I wrote a book about writing.

I have also used that phrase “let ’er rip” in my baseball coaching books with regard to pitching or throwing a ball. Novices in that sport often worry too much about accuracy and try too hard to control where the ball goes and end up looking like they are throwing darts instead of a baseball. What they need to do is grip the ball in the prescribed manner for the pitch they want to throw, focus their eyes on a target on the catcher’s body, and let ’er rip. Que sera, sera. Do not try to control it.

Mitt Romney, whose father George ran for president but who was thrown out of the race overnight because he said one word—“brainwashed”—looks and sounds like he’s throwing darts when he debates or speaks. After what he saw happen to his father in 1968, when Mitt was 20, perhaps we cannot blame him.

Newt, on the other hand, has mastered the “let ’er rip” Zen of writing and speaking. So have I after 95 books, 5,000 articles and a whole lot of speeches. You can see some of my informal talks on YouTube.

As one who has mastered the Zen of “let ’er rip” public speaking, Gingrich produces large amounts of what political pundits call “red meat.” His cult members who artificially dominated the debate Thursday were apparently political carnivores.

He also gets himself into trouble again and again as a result and has to “walk it back” to use the fashionable pundit line. If he were president of the United States, it would not be himself he’s getting into trouble. It would be us. A bull in a China shop can be entertaining to watch, unless you own the China shop. In the case of the U.S., we do own the China shop.

Oval Office is not a trash-talking pulpit

There are two problems with this:

1. The general election ain’t the South Carolina primary. The whole U.S. electorate definition of what is attractive red meat is far blander than yelling at a CNN reporter about being pro-Obama.

2. The presidency ain’t a policy-wonk, trash-talking contest. The President more often has to talk the lynch mob into going home than to be elected its leader. Gingrich is campaigning as if he were running for president of the Obama lynch mob, or Speaker of the House, which may not be too much different.

Red meat stump speech demagoguery is great for cheer leading and pep rallies, but it is dangerous for the Oval Office, home of the red button, not red meat, and the center of U.S. diplomacy. Except for briefly being speaker, Newt has never managed anything, never been an executive.

Legislators can make speeches where they yell all sorts of wild things. They can vote against things they actually favor and vote for things they oppose as long as the vote count indicates their votes are not needed to get the desired result. They do this to deceive voters so as to be more popular with them. Presidents cannot do that. They have to get all sides to work together as much as possible. They have to sign or veto bills and have no opportunity to cast phony votes that don’t count.

Romney was a business executive for 25 years producing stellar results. He also did well at turning around the scandal-ridden Salt Lake City Olympics and he was governor of a state. This is legitimate and rather thorough preparation for actually doing the job of president of the U.S. as opposed to just making speeches about it

‘Reagan for best friend’

A Hollywood producer once heard the slogan “Reagan for governor” and replied as if he were casting,

No. Jimmy Stewart for governor. Reagan for best friend.

In that same vein I respond to “Gingrich for president” with,

No. Romney for president. Gingrich for Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Santorum for cabinet. Rubio for VP.

I do not think Romney is bold enough to fix the current problems of the U.S. We need tax and regulatory reform along the lines of throw it all out and start over much smaller and simpler. We need a very-painful-to-the-federal-check-addicts drastic shrinkage of the federal government and its spending to the point where the national debt goes down, not just up slower. Romney is too timid to push such bold changes and probably would not get the nomination or presidency if he did. So he will just be a man who would slow down the march toward the socialism of the Democrats.

But it has been said that the presidency is less about campaign promises and party platforms than it is about reacting to the stuff that happens like 9/11 and financial crises and nuclear attacks and so on. It seems clear to me that on those days, the guy you want in the Oval Office is Romney, not the younger and less experienced and less tested and formed Rick Santorum, not the overly anti-war Ron Paul, not the never-even-had-a-paper-route-or-wore-a-cub-scout-uniform Barack Obama, and certainly not the volcanic, fiery Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich like Obama, is about 20 times more self-confident than his record warrants. Having such megalomaniacs in the Oval Office leads to things like the New Deal, the Great Society, ObamaCare, trillion-dollar deficits, The Third Reich, depressions, hyperinflation, and world wars. Gingrich, and Obama, want to remake the nation and the world in their image. No thanks.

John T. Reed

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