According to all the headlines today, the establishment right has up and declared all-out anger-war on the newly resurgent Newt Gingrich, because given the choice, they would all understandably prefer to spend the next four years supporting a malleable but handsome sack of flip-flops in the form of Mitt Romney than a megalomaniacal firestarter who wants to conquer the moon for Sheldon Adelson. And so the Drudge Report was aflame last night and this morning with the news that Gingrich "repeatedly insulted [Ronald] Reagan," and R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. of the American Spectator is equating Gingrich with Bill Clinton and accusing both of "waywardness and deviancy."
But it's the attack from former Kansas senator and 1996 presidential candidate Bob Dole that really stands out, and not just because we haven't heard much from the typically affable Dole for some time. His statement on Newt's essential awfulness, furnished by the Romney campaign to National Review, touches on many of the typical criticisms that are often hurled at Gingrich -- that the former House speaker was arrogant, hard to work with, ethically challenged, and could burn a bridge with a political ally at the drop of a hat. Dole avers that Gingrich "had a new idea every minute and most of them were off the wall," and enjoyed "picking..fight[s] with President Clinton because he knew this would get the attention of the press."
More significantly, Dole warns about the effect Newt would have on the top of the ticket, based on personal experience:
In my run for the presidency in 1996 the Democrats greeted me with a number of negative TV ads and in every one of them Newt was in the ad. He was very unpopular and I am not only certain that this did not help me, but that it also cost House seats that year.
But here's where Dole's criticism gets delightfully strange:
Newt would show up at the campaign headquarters with an empty bucket in his hand — that was a symbol of some sort for him — and I never did know what he was doing or why he was doing it, and I’m not certain he knew either.
Just what was Gingrich doing with an empty bucket? Something that you couldn't possibly understand.
UPDATE: Hooray! David Corn has the skinny on Newt's bucket, and explains why it was the Dole was completely "mystified" about it.
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