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How Newt Screwed Himself Over

I thought from the start that Newt Gingrich never really thought he had any chance of winning the nomination, that his campaign was launched only as a way of getting attention for his book and his network of non-profits and consulting interests. But that seems to have backfired on him in a big way:

In all other ways, however, Gingrich is a man reduced. And it is not at all clear he will ever be able to get back the many things he has lost.

These days, Gingrich attracts more attention for having been bitten by a zoo penguin than for a policy proposal, even a totally outlandish one. Recently, at the convention of the National Rifle Association, he proposed an international treaty to make the right to bear arms a universal human right; the nation shrugged, if it even noticed…

Prior to running for president, Newt Gingrich had built a very good life for himself. The former speaker of the House of Representatives resided in posh McLean, Va., with his third wife, who enjoyed expensive jewelry and singing in church choir.

He ran a profitable empire of think tanks, wrote and co-wrote books of fiction and nonfiction, appeared on television as a commentator, and traveled the country giving speeches, basking in his role as GOP elder statesman. Inevitably, as he finished one of his fiery orations on the endless circuit of rubber-chicken dinners, local activists would come away starry-eyed, wishing this dazzling man, with his charisma, insight and seemingly endless ideas, would find it in him to run for president.

Today, much of that empire is in a shambles.

The Fox News contributor gig is no longer, having been suspended when Gingrich became a candidate, and quietly canceled thereafter. Relations between Gingrich and the cable channel have notably soured. Recently, Gingrich told a Delaware Tea Party group that he felt the network had exhibited a bias against him, accusing it of “distortion”; the network fired back with a biting statement: “He’s still bitter over the termination of his contributor contract.” It seems safe to say that bridge, for Gingrich, has been burned.

The policy and consulting enterprise Gingrich helmed is similarly on the rocks. American Solutions for Winning the Future, his major nonprofit, shut down last August, and the Gingrich Group, his for-profit advocacy shop, filed for bankruptcy in Georgia earlier this month. Together, the two entities had grossed more than $100 million over the course of a decade, according to Bloomberg. Now, thanks to Gingrich’s quest for the presidency, they are defunct.

Gingrich’s campaign, nearly $4.5 million in debt, has stooped to renting out its donor and email list for money. On Tuesday, people who’d signed up on Gingrich’s presidential website received, under the heading “A special offer for Newt’s supporters,” an advertisement from LifeLock, an identity-protection company. “Special Offer for Newt Gingrich Fans!” the email said. “30 Days Free + 10% Off LifeLock Membership.”

This is clearly not what he had in mind when he decided to run. So what happened? I think that sudden surge in the polls, when he became the transitory not-Romney of the moment, leading to a win in the South Carolina primary, awoke his old delusions of grandeur. Over the last few years he had built that empire of organizations feeding his income based on pure pragmatism, selling his connections and his insider status. But then he got a brief taste of success and that pragmatism was quickly replaced by the ever-present vision of himself as a transformational figure, the Winston Churchill of America, and he immediately began to sense his own inevitability. And he deluded himself into thinking it was really going to happen.

I can’t really think of anyone whose fall from grace I would enjoy more than this one. He’ll be back to pimping businessmen for contributions with fake awards and giving incoherent speeches on the religious right rubber chicken circuit, likely for less than he could have commanded a couple years ago. Humpty Dumpty’s fall has been highly entertaining.

Comments

  1. says

    …he proposed an international treaty to make the right to bear arms a universal human right; the nation shrugged, if it even noticed…

    It couldn’t hear him over all the gunfire.

  2. matty1 says

    I have trouble with this use of non-profit. You see I am what is know as a sole-trader – I sell my services, deduct the cost of delivering those services and what is left is my personal income,also known as profit.

    However apparently if I structured things differently I could sell my services, deduct the costs, draw an income and declare that there was no profit involved at all even though the amounts were exactly the same.

    I had thought the use of non-profit in this way was US centric but recently I met someone here (UK) who did the same thing. So what am I missing, when is a profit not a profit?

  3. vmanis1 says

    Gingrich’s campaign will be remembered for at least one thing: his is (to my knowledge) the only political campaign ever to assign a staffer to dress up as an elephant in order to promote Callista’s new book.

  4. says

    I won’t be surprised if he manages to pick himself up in a couple years. I doubt his followers have a good memory, and the die hard ones will do whatever they can to spin his upcoming obscurity as being suppressed by The Liberal Media.

    But disappearing from the public consciousness is still a possibility.

  5. Dennis N says

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

    In fact, wouldn’t have happened, if he were a nicer guy.

  6. d cwilson says

    Newt will bounce back. He’ll be sending out blast faxes of his fake awards scam to strip clubs before the general election. /snark.

    His problem is that he’s always been the poster child for hubris. He always expects people to have the same grandiose opinion of Newt Gingrich that he does himself. That’s why it’s always such a shock to him when he finds out that not everyone thinks his latest brain dropping is the most brilliant nugget of wisdom they’ve ever heard.

  7. noastronomer says

    I don’t think Gingrich is peronsally hurting that badly, at least not financially. The non-profits were setup to support and promote the Gingrich personality, not the other way round. If his campaign is in debt so what? He will have no problem finding a way to pay it off.

    And I don’t think he’ll notice too much in the way of a reduction in speaking fees.

    I do think he got carried away though. As you say at some point he actually started to believe he could win. That prevented him from planning a proper exit and it eventually collapsed. Which has to smart.

    Meanwhile Sarah Palin looks like a raving genius…

    Mike.

  8. D. C. Sessions says

    I can’t really think of anyone whose fall from grace I would enjoy more than this one.

    Perhaps due to a more pragmatic turn of mind, I can. Easily. Starting with Paul Ryan.

  9. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    I can’t really think of anyone whose fall from grace I would enjoy more than this one.

    D.C. Sessions responds:

    Perhaps due to a more pragmatic turn of mind, I can. Easily. Starting with Paul Ryan.

    He’s up there though I’d start with Messers Bush and Cheney being indicted and sentenced for torture, then the Koch brothers followed by Rick Warren.

    Gingrich appears to have perfectly primed himself to take over the gig Pat Buchanan had with MSNBC.

  10. says

    There’s still mosqeophobia. Don’t be surprised if he drums more of that up just before Election Day. In an elder-stateman-y kind of way, of course.

  11. Moggie says

    He ran a profitable empire of think tanks, wrote and co-wrote books of fiction and nonfiction

    For small values of “think” and “non-”.

  12. Chiroptera says

    Reginald Selkirk, #17:

    From the link:

    That same day, some 60 Catholic social justice leaders, theologians and clergy also released a statement saying that “this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good.”

    Holy crap! The Church is remembering that it has an official ethical stand on things besides abortion and gay people? Are these theologians and clergy suddenly realizing that their leaders are dragging the RCC along the path to irrelevance?

  13. says

    Gingrich appears to have perfectly primed himself to take over the gig Pat Buchanan had with MSNBC.

    My thoughts exactly, though CNN might step in first.

    Failing that, I can see him doing quite well using his newly minted Catholic credentials to found an organization that is a slightly less irascible version of The Catholic League.

  14. davem says

    Recently, at the convention of the National Rifle Association, he proposed an international treaty to make the right to bear arms a universal human right; the nation shrugged, if it even noticed..

    Maybe the Afghans applauded. And possibly the Yemenis? Good company.

  15. d cwilson says

    Maybe the Afghans applauded. And possibly the Yemenis? Good company.

    I’m sure there was much rejoicing among the Somali pirates as well.

  16. Paul Neubauer says

    noastronomer says:

    I don’t think Gingrich is peronsally hurting that badly, at least not financially. The non-profits were setup to support and promote the Gingrich personality, not the other way round. If his campaign is in debt so what? He will have no problem finding a way to pay it off.

    Actually, as someone posted here recently, he’s not likely to worry about the debts. He’ll just let the campaign go bankrupt like so many other of his operations. I don’t seem to have the link from the other day handy, but googling “newt gingrich bankrupt” seems to bring up a whole slew of relevant stories. Lots of his “think tanks” have just been allowed to go bankrupt. If I were running a business that provided some product or service to any of Newt’s operations, I would definitely NOT extend credit. I would demand cash on delivery.

    Bronze Dog says:

    When was Newt ever graceful?

    I have a vague recollection of some old cartoon that featured ballerina hippos.

    Fantasia

  17. fastlane says

    Newt screwed himself over? So he’s like, his own 4th (5th?) wife now? Someone call the anti-gay-samesex-sameperson marriage brigade!!!

    Also, does his current wife know about this?

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