Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Letter to the Former Speaker of the House

Dear Newt Gingrich:

Congratulations on your hard-fought come-from-behind victory in the South Carolina primary.  Just a couple of weeks ago, you were left for dead and Mitt Romney was on the verge of wrapping up the GOP nomination for president.  But with Rick Santorum now the declared winner in Iowa and your huge win in the Palmetto state, this race is now a veritable free for all.

As you enjoy your moment of triumph and thank all your supporters, I thought you might want to send a shout out to a special contributor, without whom your victory might not have occurred.  That contributor is John King, the “moderator” of the debate that both sealed your win and might well have permanently derailed the candidacy of your chief rival, Mitt Romney.

Yes, John King of CNN – where journalism goes to die.  His first question to you really set the tone, didn’t it?  I mean, imagine your good fortune.  King could’ve begun the debate by exploring your claim that you worked with President Clinton to balance the budget.  “But Mr. Gingrich, wasn’t it true that the top marginal tax rate during the Clinton years was 39.6% and given that fact isn’t fair to assume that that might’ve had as much to do with balancing the budget as spending cuts?”

Yeah, that would’ve been a wonderful opening question wouldn’t it?  You could’ve used your superior, cat-like debate reflexes and dazzled the audience in yet another of your superlative defenses of supply-side economics, where two plus two always equals five.  But, alas, you were denied the opportunity to display your profound wit and intelligence.  That’s because Edward R. Murrow decided to open the evening with a question about your ex-wife’s interview on ABC in which she said you had wanted an open marriage.

Your response was sheer brilliance.  You pounced on the moderator and, in the words of Bill Maher, “stole his milk money and locked him in his own locker.”  This wasn’t the first time you went after the media – in fact it has become a familiar theme with your campaign – but this was special.  This time the question was so lame and the moment so ripe, it’s a wonder you were able to compose yourself.

I can only imagine how delighted you must’ve been minutes later when the same “moderator” asked your primary rival whether he would release his tax returns and the reply was, “maybe.”  How you didn’t burst out laughing when Thurston Howell III looked like a deer caught in a headlight was beyond me.  Personally, I would’ve been rolling on the floor.  But then I don’t have your discipline, your single-mindedness.  You, sir, are a paragon of statesmanship.

And now it’s on to Florida, as this race has now turned into a marathon.  Romney may have the cash to go long and deep, but that shouldn’t concern you that much.  As long as Mittens refuses to release his tax returns and the media continues to fixate on non-essential questions about your perverse and hypocritical personal life while ignoring the fact that in your one and only leadership position you comported yourself with all the grace of a drunken sailor on liberty, you should do just fine. 

The Tea Party adores you. And why shouldn’t they? You’re made for each other.  You’re myopic, insular, rude, obnoxious, a compulsive liar, and your ego could fill the Grand Canyon.  You weren’t kidding when you said you were the only Republican candidate who offered the voters a clear distinction with President Obama.

But really, getting back to John King.  You really should send the guy a thank you; perhaps a dozen roses; something for the effort.  How many political corpses get a chance to resurrect their campaigns in one night?  I know, I know, you probably don’t want to give him all the credit.  After all there were those negative ads that you swore you would never run, because, as you said on so many occasions, you wanted to run a positive campaign.  Yes, I realize those ads were run by your Super Pac and by law you can’t control what they say – gosh, it’s just like you to be so humble and defer to others – but trust me, this one was on the house.

And, like a buy back at a local tavern, you don’t refuse.  You just chug it down, burp and move on to the next round.  You’re good at doing that, or so your ex-wife says.

Sincerely yours,


Peter W. Fegan

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