Folks, as you know I am not personally fond of “nasty Newt Gingrich”. But I am astonished at his rhetorical brilliance. As you know, ABC News did an interview which is just being released today with Gingrich’s ex-wife in which she claims he requested an open marriage which would include his lover (now wife). John King opened today’s CNN debate by asking Gingrich about the allegation. Gingrich’s reply made for one of the most spirited exchanges I have seen in a political debate.
Okay, to call it an “exchange” is a misnomer of classic proportion. It consisted of Gingrich tearing into King and CNN for their irresponsibility with opening a presidential debate on what is little more than a piece of trash-talking salacious gossip. King was clearly shaken. It brought me back to the moment when my principal pulled me into the office in grade 4 for leaving the school grounds during class so I could buy candy at the local convenience store. “I bet you think you can do whatever you want just because you’re in grade four, huh!” he yelled, with flecks of spittle slamming into my blushing cheeks. After that verbal assault I was looking for the nearest rock to crawl under.
That about describes John King after this reprimand. In retrospect, I bet King would prefer thirty whacks with a Singaporean cane rather than three minutes of a Gingrichean tongue lashing. (Gringrich would probably also prefer that, so long as he got to hold the cane.)
In particular look how Gingrich builds to the crescendo of blaming the “elite liberal media”. In that moment he actually has the gall to defend his three opponents (the ones he’s been laboring mightly to tear down … well Romney and Paul anyway) in a laughable attempt to create a form of solidarity against this bogeyman dubbed the “elite liberal media”. (What’s with the “elite” reference? All those guys are elites. Romney is worth several hundred million dollars. If that’s not elite I don’t know what is.) But nobody can doubt that Gingrich knows how to play his audience. After that performance he could have a good shot at beating Romney and winning the Republican nomination.
If you haven’t seen it yet, behold Gingrich at the height of his powers: