As Newt Gingrich's surge in the polls continues, the backlash against his campaign for president has begun. Prominent conservatives like Ann Coulter, George Will and David Brooks have started to voice concerns about the former Speaker of the House, comparing Gingrich to everything from a hand grenade to a 1960s-style reveler.
Peggy Noonan, writing in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, posited that most observations about Newt are accurate.
"Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive -- all true," she wrote.
Here are some of the other criticisms levied against Gingrich in recent weeks:
In a December 7 column, conservative pundit Ann Coulter wrote about Newt's history: Gingrich has spent his years since [his first year as Speaker of the House] having an affair, divorcing his second wife and making money by being the consummate Washington insider -- trading on access, taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac and palling around with Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi and Al Sharpton. Even Chuck Schumer wouldn't be seen doing a joint event with Al Sharpton! But Newt seeks approval from strange places. Newt Gingrich is the "anti-Establishment" candidate only if "the Establishment" is defined as "anyone who remembers what happened the day before yesterday."
On December 10, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote about Gingrich's rapid rise in the Republican primary. "He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, 'Watch this!'," she wrote.
According to The Hill, one Republican legislator who served with Gingrich in the House of Representatives said that "Newt's hand is always six inches from the self-destruct button."
Conservative columnist George Will shared some choice words about Newt in a December 2 Washington Post column. "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," Will wrote.
In his New York Times column, David Brooks outlined why Newt "seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s." Gingrich, Brooks wrote, "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."
Yuval Levin wrote about Gingrich's temperament on the National Review website: Gingrich has what you might call a revolutionary disposition: He has great intensity and energy. His mind is drawn to stark and diametrical distinctions; he expects change to occur through cataclysmic clashes and so seems always to be seeking after ways to accelerate the contradictions. This allows him to much more easily thunder over his own inconsistencies and past changes of mind. But he has no discipline whatsoever, can be almost unbelievably erratic and unfocused, and is unironically conceited.
In his December 8 Washington Post column, Michael Gerson wrote: And this indiscipline was not an aberration. It indicated an impulsiveness found elsewhere in his career. Gingrich has a history of making serious charges that turn out to be self-indictments -- witness his recent attack on congressional advocates for Freddie Mac, despite having been one of its well-paid consultants. Gingrich's language is often intemperate. He is seized by temporary enthusiasms. He combines absolute certainty in any given moment with continual reinvention over time.These traits are suited to a provocateur, an author, a commentator, a consultant. They are not the normal makings of a chief executive.
In a column comparing Mitt Romney and Gingrich, the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer said that "Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama's -- but, unlike Obama's, is untamed by self-discipline."
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough had kind words for Gingrich Jan. 19. Reacting to polls showing Gingrich gaining on Romney in South Carolina, Scarborough joked, "There are only going to be three species that survive the nuclear holocaust: cockroaches, Cher and Newt Gingrich. He keeps coming back!"
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