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Gingrich: The Honest Liar

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Herman Cain quit. That he has suspended his campaign means that he can still raise money. How presidential. I feel for Cain’s followers, especially the ones who donated their money and their time to his populist posturing. However, I do not feel anything but contempt for their candidate. Narcissists never apologize for anything, like dishonesty. It is not the alleged sexless extramarital business, which he denies; it is his dishonesty that has further disqualified him.

Cain and GingrichStrategic ambiguity aside, Newt Gingrich will do the same thing as Cain – raise money on the pretense of a further presidential campaign. At least Newt is an honest liar. He admits it. But lying is still dishonest.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) said that Newt Gingrich is dishonest. Frank called Gingrich “fundamentally intellectually dishonest” about the former House Speaker’s consulting contract with Freddie Mac. Frank used the word “ludicrous” during a recent MSNBC interview on the topic. Then again, there have been words between these former colleagues. Gingrich said the Representatives Frank and Chris Dodd “should be jailed” for their oversight of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in one of the GOP debates. So, Frank qualified “dishonest.”

In fact, as Bloomberg reported, Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac. Gingrich said that he provided only “strategic advice” over an eight year period. The Gingrich assertion has been since that such advice is not lobbying. Obfuscation notwithstanding, it is paid political influence wielding.

We are supposed to forget about that just as we were supposed to forget about the multiple Herman Cain sexual harassment case settlements. Bygones are supposed to be bygones. The truth is irrelevant.

For examples, ten years ago when he ran for president, Gingrich said, “I helped balance the budget for four straight years. We did it by cutting taxes and bringing the unemployment rate below 4%.” He said that on Meet the Press. It was not true then and it has not become true since. President Clinton’s 1993 tax increase on the wealthy lea to a booming economy after it passed without a single Republican vote.

That Mr. Gingrich is known for saying misleading and contradictory things, however, does not cover such dishonesty.

Consider the Monica Lewinsky affair. The former Speaker of the House engaged in an extramarital affair at the same time he was going after President Clinton for one. Gingrich admitted it in a 2009 broadcast interview when he said, “There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards.” Moreover, he argued that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing the impeachment of Clinton over infidelity. Perhaps, more accurately, he meant his double standards.

Newt GingrichThe House Ethics Committee went after Gingrich on numerous ethics charges. They found Professor Gingrich wrongly used tax-exempt funds to teach a college course. The House reprimanded him for his using tax-exempt funds to promote Republican causes and then lying about it to ethics investigators. Gingrich paid a $300,000 fine in 1997. The next year, facing a revolt within his party, he resigned the speakership and quit the House of Representatives.

Cain caved because of his dishonesty. Gingrich has admitted to and paid for his. So the question is, do voters prefer a known liar to a discovered liar? With the Cain cancelation, eyes will focus on the comeback of Newt Gingrich. He has truly been there and done that. Under the circumstances, however, I have to question the veracity of a Gingrich candidacy. Dishonesty is still dishonesty, even if one is honest about it.

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About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • ProfBob

    After reading the book ‘Politics–the Science of the Possible’ (Book 9 at http://andgulliverreturns.info) I have to laugh and cry at the political mistakes the candidates keep making.

  • Cannonshop

    #14 if you’re looking for a metric of character, OAR, how ’bout seeing if your prospective candidate’s got a habit of owning his own mistakes as opposed to passing the buck, or as opposed to claiming the Bandwagon as an excuse.

    There’s something to be said for Truman’s “The Buck Stops HERE.” attitude as it relates to character and the ethical nature of a man. Excuse-Making is a sign of weak character, and it’s entirely too common in our political class, as is bald-face denials, and “Everyone else did it” or “Yeah, but the other guy did it too”.

    There is something to be said for a man who owns his own mistakes. Of course, such men are virtually absent from the pit of passions and narcissism that is the modern political scene.

  • troll

    well kinda – the relationship wasn’t publicly acknowledged

    also – a quick check points to the probability that H was screwing around in the early 30s even while involved with Braun

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Then call it a ‘common law’ marriage.

  • troll

    Adolf’s marriage to Eva lasted 2 days iirc…the body of myth indicates that he had no other mistresses though so Glenn’s not far off

  • Jordan Richardson

    I guess that’s two things I have in common with Hitler.

  • Glenn,

    I didn’t know that about Hitler – it is a bit surprising. I’m still looking for some metric of character, and I’m certain that I want that in a President, and almost equally as much in a Congressman. I would like for them to be above the petty problems of the working class schmoes. I don’t expect that we will find the perfect candidate with this or any method, but I like to play the game of what if.

  • Jamminsue,

    If I understand what you are saying in the first sentence, then if a man cheats on his wife, and owns up to it, then as long as he continues to cheat and is up front about it, it’s OK.

    If the second sentence is true, then we should not even be considering several of the candidates, since they are guilty of the same things they are castigating their opponents for. No?

  • That particular criteria is not the only one, just one that I think needs to be considered. There is a youth program, intended to make better future leaders, and better people in general, called Character Counts, which has six pillars upon which all character rests.


    I won’t go into their definitions of these characteristics, and they are slightly different for adults, at least in implementation, than they are for children. But, the gist of what it takes to be a good person, and in my opinion a good candidate, is contained in those six items.

    Does that address the issue?

  • That our country has a sexual hang-up is documented. Infidelity is only interesting. The ball in this particular court is deceit.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    OAR –

    There was once a leader who didn’t cheat on his wife and stayed true to her until death, who brought his nation’s economy from severe recession to strong profitability, and who built a nationwide highway for national defense and for aiding commerce nationwide.

    It wasn’t Eisenhower – he, like FDR, JFK, and Thomas Jefferson – DID cheat on his wife. But in Eisenhower’s case, if what Jackie O. said was true (that Mamie was a vindictive b***h since she essentially forced Jackie on a lengthy tour of the White House just days after she’d given birth to Jack Jr.), I’m not really sure I blame the guy. And I’ve always liked Eisenhower anyway – it couldn’t have been easy dealing with both Patton and Montgomery in the same room at the same time.

    By the way – the guy I was referring to in the first paragraph was Hitler.

    In other words, judge not a leader’s ability to govern by his marital infidelity.

  • jamminsue

    #7 OAR, you say, It just seems to me that if a man will cheat on his wife, he will cheat on other things.

    Maybe so, what is important is once one decides on their ethics, they should stick with them, and should b honored for doing so. If a person can prosecute someone for doing the same as they are, they are so bankrupt that they should not be allowed to be a public servant. I wrote a long paper on public service looking through Cicero’s work, which is one of my best projects. In it I suggested that people should be educated to be in public service (everyone) and those who can learn a certain amount, formulate and articulate their ethics should be allowed to be considered for service; those who don’t are too chancy and so should be rejected.

  • Cannonshop

    #7 We’ve only had three that we can confirm didn’t, OAR:

    1. Carter
    2. Nixon
    3. GW BUSH.

    are you sure you want to use marital fidelity as a measuring tool, instead of…y’know, maybe checking to see how effective your prospective candidates have been in their prior duties/careers?

  • I am working on a new presidential candidate rating guide (as useless as the one in my article “Who can be Pres…”) that uses flip-flopping as one of the criteria.

    I am not completely aghast when a politician lies, because I expect it, but the lack of faithfulness bothers me. It just seems to me that if a man will cheat on his wife, he will cheat on other things. Those are the ones that I don’t want to see in power.

  • Igor

    I remember when Newt first started making noise about 20 years ago, and since he was billed as a teacher and professor, a cable network (maybe CNN) started carrying his course lectures which I watched avidly, looking forward to having a real teacher in congress, but he was terrible! He was ill prepared and didn’t seem to have a point and didn’t even present content. Very lethargic. I decided that he was no kind of teacher.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

  • “Politicians lie” is what people say when they don’t agree with one. Strategic ambiguity and obfuscation are tools of the trade. Lying to investigators is a noose. It will be interesting to see the Republican contest unfold because the whole point of having primaries and caucuses is to see what a candidate will do under pressure. Romney and Gingrich have done this before. Which one hangs himself first loses.


  • Sue, you’ll have noticed that I damned Gingrich with faint praise?

    There’s nothing wrong with a competent and pleasant person, but there are only two people in the current Republican field who match that description and only one of those seems to have any realistic chance of the nomination.

  • jamminsue

    Tommy, Nice article and good sound bite – the honest liar. Figuring out how to make people think that is OK to lie and be hypocritical is something tht has always puzzled me.

  • jamminsue

    Dr D, What’s wrong with a competent pleasant person? And, if Newt could so anger his peers in the House that they kicked him out, what make you think he will be able to keep an administration together?

  • Meh. Politicians lie: you can tell, as the saying goes, because their lips are moving.

    So the question is not so much the lying, but whether a candidate is competent to do the job. Gingrich is an unpleasant fellow, but far from being the worst prospect in this regard.