I’m still somewhat in shock that Newt Gingrich is taken seriously as a candidate by the GOP. I’m even more bowled over by the fact that he’s at least temporarily neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney. I’ve already suggested that someone do a “Santorum” on him, but Dan Savage would probably like to see Gingrich take the nomination, because it’d mean a landslide win for Barack Obama next year regardless of the state of the economy or how many other military adventures he takes on.
Doug Mataconis seems equally perplexed by the Newtmentum:
Newt Gingrich has pronounced himself a “co-frontrunner” for the Republican nomination. The polls bear him out. So, how did we get to the point where a fat, condescending, serial adulterer who left office in disgrace twelve years ago is the latest challenger for the conservative mantle?
[. . .]
Gingrich is a bright guy who’s voraciously interested in ideas and the world around him. He has his PhD in European history from Tulane. He served 20 years in Congress, the last 6 of them as Speaker. He’s written more books than some of his opponents have read. So, he’s by far the most plausible of the Not Romneys to emerge thus far.
The reasons most of us have written him off are manifold.
First, he’s got a long history of morally dubious behavior. The circumstances surrounding his two divorces are disturbing. While the first is the stuff of urban legend, I’m actually much more troubled by the second which occurred when he was a middle aged man serving as Speaker of the House and leading the impeachment of a president for minor crimes surround his own affairs. And then there is the flurry of ethics charges while he was in Congress and his questionable lobbying activities afterwards.
Update: Radley Balko reminds us that Newt is a huge hypocrite on drug policy, too:
While drug war realist Gary Johnson can’t get invited to the debates, and fellow realist Ron Paul got all of 90 seconds to say his piece last time around, Newt Gingrich has inexplicably risen to the top of the polls in the GOP primary. It’s worth reviewing again just how God-awful Gingrich has been on the drug war over the years.
Over at TalkLeft, Jeralyn Merritt notes that Gingrich once introduced a bill mandating the death penalty for drug smugglers. Gingrich’s bill would have required execution for anyone attempting to bring 2 ounces or more of pot into the country. Merritt also reminds us of this shameless, astonishingly stupid attempt to justify his policies with his own drug use:
“See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn’t change, only the morality… That’s why you get to go to jail and I don’t.”
There’s much more. In 2009, Gingrich agreed with Bill O’Reilly’s call for Singapore-style drug laws in America. In Singapore, the police can force anyone to submit to a urinalysis without a warrant. They’re permitted to search you without a warrant. And if you’re seen in a building or in the company of drug users, you’re assumed to have been using drugs as well, unless you can prove otherwise. They also have Gingrich’s favored mandatory execution of anyone possessing over a specified amount of illicit drugs. (And there’s little evidence that the policies are working.)