The Week O’ Newt: Half Campaign, Half Destruction Derby

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1||Today marked the one-week point of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, and what a week it was. Bold assertions, embarrassing revelations, apologies and retractions, the week was half campaign, half destruction derby. Left, right or “literati minion,” few were left feeling that the former House Speaker had made any progress toward the White House. Without further ado we give you The Week O’ Newt:||HO/RTR/Newscom&&

2||On Wednesday, May 11, Gingrich announced his candidacy with the help of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. An announcement video featured close-up shots of Gingrich, silver hair and assuring grin fully deployed, promising things like “full employment,” “a balanced budget” and “longer lives.” The synthesizer and piano score was decent, too.||youtube/ngingrich&&

3||The night of the announcement, Gingrich went on Sean Hannity’s show to talk about motivation, right and wrong.

“The reason that I came here tonight to announce that I am a candidate for president of the United States is because I think if you apply the right principles to achieve the right results, that we can win the future together,” Gingrich said. “And I don’t think that having a president who applies the wrong principles and gets the wrong results is going to lead to winning the future.”

Later in the interview, Gingrich revealed that, in considering whether or not to run, he and his wife Callista Gingrich had sat down and concluded that “either I really believe the things I’ve said my whole life or I would be a fraud.”||jeffmalet/maletphoto.com&&

4||May 13, Gingrich made the first stop and delivered the first speech of his campaign at the Georgia Republican Party’s convention in Macon, Georgia. The former Georgia congressman — who was battling allergies, according to The Washington Post — called the 2012 contest the most important election since 1860, and said the nation stood at a crossroads.

“Down one road is a European centralized bureaucratic socialist welfare system in which politicians and bureaucrats define the future,” he said. Down the other road is a proud, solid, reaffirmation of American exceptionalism.”

Oh, and he called President Obama a “food stamp president.”||n03/n03/ZUMA Press/Newscom&&

5||And then came Meet the Press. Of all the notable moments of The Week O’ Newt, this was perhaps the biggest. For weeks, Gingrich had been distancing himself from Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system. But on Sunday, Gingrich really went to town.

“I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” Gingrich told host David Gregory, talking about the House GOP budget. Gingrich called the plan “too big a jump” for the country.

Almost immediately, you knew this wouldn’t go well for Newt. And it didn’t…||msnbc.msn.com&&

6||On Monday, Gingrich’s spokesman Rick Tyler (more on him later) tried to minimize the fallout of his boss’ comments on Meet the Press, blaming the media and claiming there was “little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich.” But that didn’t stop Ryan from taking a shot. “With allies like that, who needs the left?” he told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. Other Republican leaders and conservative pundits soon joined in.

“I think that many have said now he’s finished,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told WLS radio in Chicago on Tuesday. “I haven’t had a chance to really dissect what in the world he’s thinking … so I probably would reserve judgment on that.”

Gingrich later attempted to play the so-called “Palin Card,” saying he was set up to stumble by David Gregory’s questions and regretting that he “didn’t go in there quite hostile enough.”||jeffmalet/maletphoto.com&&

7||After the Meet the Press dust-up, what Gingrich needed was a distraction. But distraction came in an unsightly form on May 17, when word arrived that Gingrich and his wife had accumulated several hundred thousand dollars in debt at Tiffany & Co. That’s one heavy charm bracelet.
||newscom/miketheiler/upi&&

8||Tuesday night, Gingrich went on Greta Van Susteren’s show to bury the Meet the Press controversy, one last time. He issued a stern warning to his political enemies, and backed up his words with airtight logic.

“Any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate,” he declared.

Gingrich also revealed that he had called Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to apologize, and told him “I made a mistake.”
||foxnews&&

9||Our humble contributions aside, when the tale of The Week O’ Newt is told, as it surely will be, generations hence, no further words will be needed beyond those composed Wednesday by Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler:

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.

||Christopher Fitzgerald/Chris Fitzgerald / Candidate Photos / New/Newscom&&

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website?s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl@talkingpointsmemo.com

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