Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Chris Kelly Headshot

Newt Gingrich Runs Rings Around Michele Bachmann and She's Still Right

Posted: Updated:

The trouble with the truth is it's always the same old thing. ~ Patty Loveless

Republican primary voters hate Freddie Mac. They believe it gave their money -- and forced the banks to give their money -- to lazy people so they could live indoors. This is a questionable suspicion. Lazy people keep terrible records. But we do know, with a certainty like we know God's love, one person Freddie Mac did give the taxpayer's money. They gave Newt Gingrich $1.6 million of it to say nice things about Freddie Mac.

That's the truth. And the trouble with the truth is it's always the same old thing.

Newt Gingrich is running for president, and one the major arguments for his candidacy is that he can "outdebate" Barack Obama. And/or eat him. So it's worth looking at how he defends himself when the truth hurts. Like in last night's debate in Iowa, for instance.

When cornered, Newt Gingrich argues like a cheating husband whose wife has just walked into the carport and caught him washing his penis with the hose.

Here's Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann:

Michele Bachmann:

Well, it's the fact that -- that we know that he cashed paychecks from Freddie Mac. That's the best evidence that you can have, over $1.6 million. And, frankly, I am shocked listening to the former speaker of the House, because he's defending the continuing practice of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

There's a big difference between a credit union and Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. And they were the epicenter of the mortgage financial meltdown. I was trying to see these two entities put into bankruptcy, because they, frankly, need to go away, when the speaker had his hand out and he was taking $1.6 million to influence senior Republicans to keep the scam going in Washington, D.C. That's absolutely wrong. We can't have as our nominee for the Republican Party someone who continues to stand for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They need to be shut down, not built up.

(APPLAUSE)

Chris Wallace:

Speaker Gingrich?

Newt Gingrich:

Well, the easiest answer is, that's just not true. What she just said is factually not true. I never lobbied under any circumstance. I never went in and suggested in any way that we do this.

In fact, I tried to help defeat the housing act when the Democrats were in charge of the House. And if you go back and talk to former Congressman Rick Lazio, he'll tell you, when we were passing housing reform while I was speaker, I never at any time tried to slow down the reform effort. In fact, I helped him pass the reform bill. And I think some of those people ought to have facts before they make wild allegations.

Honey, honey, honey... let's not make any wild allegations. At least let me turn off the hose.

Newt has done about four interesting things here, at lightning speed, so it's worth it to look at them one by one.

Well, the easiest answer is, that's just not true. What she just said is factually not true...

Newt could give you a complicated answer, congresswoman, but he'll have to give you a simple one, because everyone knows you're a dope. That's what "easiest" is doing here, and "factually" is to remind us that Michele Bachmann studied American history at Answers.com.

I never lobbied under any circumstance. I never went in and suggested in any way that we do this...

In freshman rhetoric class, this is what's known as "definitional retreat." You take the terms and redefine them, until you and the other person are talking about entirely different things. Michele Bachmann is accusing Newt Gingrich of taking the trust he built as a public servant and selling it. Newt Gingrich is denying being a registered lobbyist. And then he's making up his own definition of what a lobbyist does.

Bachmann is accusing Gingrich of adultery, and Gingrich is denying committing adultery while dressed as a bear.

"Why are you washing your penis?"
"Stop calling me a furry."
"Who said anything about being a furry?"
"I never furried under any circumstance. I never went anywhere dressed as a bear and performed non-penetrative sex acts.

In fact, I tried to help defeat the housing act when the Democrats were in charge of the House. And if you go back and talk to former Congressman Rick Lazio, he'll tell you, when we were passing housing reform while I was speaker, I never at any time tried to slow down the reform effort. In fact, I helped him pass the reform bill. And I think some of those people ought to have facts before they make wild allegations.

Confused? That's the whole point. The Greeks called this "changing the subject." Now, suddenly, we're talking about a housing act (who knows which one) and some other reform Newt didn't slow down (wow, thanks!) and Rick Lazio, who -- if you got him on the phone right now, honey -- would tell you I was at his house playing cards. Not tonight, but another night much like tonight. When I certainly wasn't performing frottage on anyone in a bear suit. Now, will you let me put away this bear suit?

Back to the debate.

Michele Bachmann:

Let me -- let me...

Chris Wallace:

Yes, go ahead. Congresswoman?

Michele Bachmann:

Well, after the debates that we had last week, PolitiFact came out and said that everything that I said was true. And the evidence is that Speaker Gingrich took $1.6 million. You don't need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, D.C., to get them to do your bidding. And the bidding was to keep this grandiose scam of Freddie Mac going. That's -- that is something that our nominee can't stand for. We have to shut down these government enterprises. And we've got to end them. And I think that's shocking that he's saying that.

I'm not asking about Rick Lazio. I'm asking where you were tonight. And I won't keep my voice down. I want the neighbors to hear.

Newt Gingrich:

And let me just say two things...

Moderator:

Speaker Gingrich, quickly.

(APPLAUSE)

Newt Gingrich:

OK, I want to say two things. First, my policy is to break up both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is not anything like what she just described...

A really fabulous defense. Gingrich's position, today, isn't anything like the position Bachmann says he used to take, for money. While dressed as a bear. He seems to be saying she has her facts wrong, again. (Typical chick.) But what he's really saying, like it's a good thing, is that he's not just a shill, he's also a hypocrite.

She's completely mischaracterized what he believes, now, in terms of what he used to say he believed, for 1.6 million dollars. Has she no shame?

Second, I want to state unequivocally, for every person watching tonight, I have never once changed my positions because of any kind of payment...

Even if I was a shill, it's okay, because I love the product.

I've never quite understood this line of argument, that it's okay for public servants to take money to do things, if they were going to do those things anyway. Someone's wasting their money. And I don't think Michele Bachmann was saying that the problem with Gingrich taking the money from Freddie Mac was that he was only pretending to be their friend and then selling them out later. That's just a bonus he throws in.

Because I -- the truth is, I was a national figure who was doing just fine, doing a whole variety of things, including writing best-selling books, making speeches...

I don't know exactly what Newt is saying here, because it's the kind of thing people usually say where they're denying something. "Why would I steal your car? I have my own." But in Newt's case, he's admitting he stole your car even though he has his own, and it's better than your piece of shit.

How dare you accuse me of taking the money I admit I took? It's not like I needed it.

And the fact is, I only chose to work with people whose values I shared and having people have a chance to buy a house is a value I believe still is important in America.

If you see me having extramarital sex in some kind of costume, it's only because I love my country so very much.

Newt Gingrich isn't a lobbyist, and even if he is, he's not legally a lobbyist, and even if he was, he's changed his mind, and even if he hadn't, it was something he would have done anyway, and he won't again, and he still believes in America, a shining city on a hill. Unlike some people.

He still took the money. And that's the trouble with the truth.