Word on the street is that Donald Trump has announced that Mike Pence will be his running mate, ending the Veepstakes for the biggest flaming Port-a-John of a presidential campaign America has ever seen.
I’ll be sad to see it go, and so will the media, which was captivated by the choice. Would it be: Widely despised toady Chris Christie? Quitter/loser/word salad shooter Sarah Palin? Some belligerent ex-military person who has no experience in civilian office? Hokey, bread bag-wearing, hog-castrating talking shit-heap Joni Ernst? His own daughter? A down-on-her-luck former Miss USA contestant? A dog? WHO KNEW??? Trump’s presidential campaign has already veered so far off the charts for sheer batshit insanity, that his choice of a running mate really had no ceiling for self-deluding grandeur and unintentional comedy.
Before Pence, the smart money said that Trump might play it relatively “safe” and name Newt Gingrich as his running mate. Newt Gingrich! My God. First of all, how crazy is it that Newt Gingrich is still a viable figure in Republican national politics? I thought we were rid of that guy forever back in the 1990s! I thought Newt’s political career was finished after he resigned from the House in 1999 after he committed ethics violations while in office, and then again after he ran a complete failure of a presidential campaign in 2012!
The other thing I realized today is that I’ve been writing angry essays about Newt Gingrich since I was in high school English class. I’ve been hating Newt Gingrich since 1994, and somehow he’s still here! I’ve been hating Newt Gingrich for 22 years! That’s longer than any romantic relationship I’ve ever had! I hated Newt Gingrich when I was a teenager, and I still hate him now that I’m a middle-aged man! Newt Gingrich is never going away! Time is a flat circle!
Anyway, at first glance, Newt for VP seemed like a terrible idea. What the hell did Newt Gingrich possibly have to add to the Trump ticket? Newt has been a non-entity in national politics since the late 1990s! He’s 73 years old now, and he’s somehow almost as unpopular as Trump with non-white, non-male demographic groups! Was he going to help Trump capture more votes from Republican white men who are racist AND religious?
But on second thought, Newt Gingrich might just have been the ideal running mate for Trump. When you look at his personal history and public record, Newt is Trump’s kind of guy. These two are perfect for each other:
Trump has been married 3 times, Newt has been married 3 times, and they’ve both been dogged by accusations or evidence of cheating on their various wives. In fact, Newt cheated on his 2nd wife with his current (now-3rd) wife Callista WHILE he was Speaker of the House from 1994-1999 and WHILE he was calling for Bill Clinton’s impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky affair.
But in a way, Newt is actually WORSE than Trump on this one, because at least Trump was always an openly boorish New York playboy who never claimed to be a “Family Values” Christian conservative.
Newt Gingrich, like Trump, has a long and ignoble history of tapping into the racial resentments of fearful, declining whites. But unlike Trump, who’s been openly, blunderingly hostile to Latinos, Muslims, and other people of color (as well as women and LGBT people), Gingrich has been slightly more skillful over the years at coding his racist language in the subtle dog-whistles of the Republican mainstream.
In the past, he has accused Barack Obama of being influenced by “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior” (thus tapping into the right-wing lie that Barack Obama is a secret Kenyan-born Muslim), he compared a proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan to allowing Nazis to put up a sign near the Holocaust Museum, and he has also said that poor black people are poor because “the habits of being poor don’t work” and that bilingual education teaches “the language of living in a ghetto.”
(To Newt’s credit, he recently said some surprisingly sensible, thoughtful-sounding things about Black Lives Matter and recent police shootings. But it’s too little, too late.)
In addition to the lawsuit against Donald Trump currently underway for his failed Trump University business (which apparently was just a thinly veiled scam operation), Trump has built his business empire on screwing over small business owners by failing to pay his bills.
In 1997, Newt Gingrich became the first House Speaker in history to be punished by the House for ethics violations. (He had been taking contributions from political advocacy groups for a college course he was offering on the side.)
See, the fun thing about writing about Newt Gingrich is, you don’t even have to come up with clever, snarky commentary—you can just quote actual things he’s said or recite the public record of his activities.
Newt Gingrich has somehow cultivated the persona of being a Republican “ideas guy,” but he’s mostly just hysterical and undisciplined. He has a long track record of saying crazy stuff and flying off the handle in media interviews in a way that shows a complete lack of historical perspective (which is hilarious, because he’s a former history professor).
This is a minor example, but remember back in 2008 right before the election, during the height of the financial crisis, when it looked like the whole world economy was about to go down the toilet, and John McCain made a big grandiose gesture of “suspending his campaign” and returning to Washington, even though he had no official role to play in addressing the situation and no special expertise that would be helpful? At the time, Newt Gingrich was quoted as saying that McCain’s publicity stunt was “the greatest single act of responsibility ever taken by a presidential candidate” and that it was reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 pledging to go to Korea to end the Korean War.
Huh?? Newt Gingrich never met a tortured historical analogy he didn’t like. Of course, Newt was wrong about this, just like he’s been wrong about so many other hundreds of topics over the years—McCain suffered in the polls because people felt like he was acting bizarre and desperate and was putting himself at the center of a story that was much bigger than him. But Newt will say whatever it takes to get his name in the papers.
Donald Trump is a bullshit con artist. No one knows if he’s even a billionaire, because he hasn’t released his tax returns. Lots of people have sued him for shady business practices, and his business “empire” basically consists of “inheriting money from his father and then using it to make less money than he would have made by leaving his inheritance in S&P 500 index funds.”
Just as Donald Trump is a stupid person’s idea of a businessman, Newt Gingrich is a stupid person’s idea of an intellectual. Newt Gingrich had an undistinguished academic career, and his last major political triumph was in 1994 when he was swept into power with the (ultimately short-lived) “Republican Revolution.” He got out-dueled by Bill Clinton, was fined $300,000 by the House for ethics violations (think about that: Newt Gingrich was too sleazy for CONGRESS), and then in 2012 he ran for president and lost multiple states to Rick Santorum.
Newt Gingrich claims to be a big “idea” guy, but his only real idea is “cut taxes on the rich and then blame poor people for their problems.” His supporters claim that he would help the Trump ticket by bringing governing experience, but Newt was only in power for 4 years, during which time he shut down the government, committed ethics violations, became widely unpopular and got repeatedly outmaneuvered by President Bill Clinton, lost seats in the House, and ultimately handed over the speaker’s chair to Denny Hastert, a serial child molester. Newt’s much-vaunted “governing experience” was about as successful as Trump Steaks.
Newt Gingrich won’t help Trump win the White House, and that’s sad because he was probably the best choice. No Republican with a political future wants to be associated with this sputtering wreck in November, and at least the two of them would get along great: they’re both narcissistic, fraudulent gasbags. They deserve each other. And in November, America could have found joy in giving Newt Gingrich one last decisive defeat to finally end his political career for good.