Newt Gingrich: An Opposition Researcher's Dream

After a big win in the South Carolina primary, Newt Gingrich, the snarlin’ darlin’ of the Tea Party crowd, has a very large target on his back. Fortunately for Mitt Romney, there’s lot of ammunition out there. A lot.

Consider some of it:

From 1993: A grainy TV attack ad taking Newt to task for being involved in the Congressional Check bouncing scandal — some called it Rubbergate.

December 1995: A transcript of a PBS Frontline Special that describes how the House Ethics Committee, the very body Gingrich used to take out Jim Wright, reprimanded Gingrich for his $4.5 million book deal with Rupert Murdoch. The Ethics Committee also appointed a special counsel to investigate the funding of the satellite history course. And the Federal Election Commission also sued Gingrich and GOPAC, charging illegal use of funds during Gingrich’s 1990 campaign.

December 1996: After two years of claiming he did nothing wrong, Gingrich made an about-face and admitted he did something wrong: Giving false information to the ethics commission. That means he was either lying when he said he lied, or now he’s lying when he says he didn’t.

In 1997: By a 395-to-28 vote, the Republican-controlled House fined Gingrich $300,000 for making 13 false statements in two letters to the subcommittee investigating him. It was the first time in the House’s 208-year history it disciplined a Speaker for ethical wrongdoing. Gingrich claims this was all just about politics, but the politicians that hung him were his Republican colleagues.

In 1999: This story on the acrimonious divorce proceedings with Gingrich and now ex-wife Marianne, his attorney Randy Evans said that Callista made an admission under oath that their relationship began six years earlier, a year before Gingrich became House speaker. So, essentially, he spent six years lying about that.

In 2007: Gingrich, gave a radio interview to be broadcast today with Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, in which Gingrich for the first time publicly acknowledged cheating on his first and second wives and acknowledged cheating while leading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. So if this was the first time he acknowledged the truth, does that count as lying about it from 1993 until 2007?

In August 201o: Esquire magazine published a story by John Richardson titled: Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican. It is centered on an interview with Marianne that contains much of the same information that caused such a flap when it was recently broadcast on ABC. It also contains a brief interview with Gingrich in which he is asked about some of the very non-conservative-small-government policy proposals he’s thrown out over the years, such as:

massive government spending on education, technology, high-speed trains, national parks, health care, Social Security, and a host of odd pet projects: compulsory gym class for every public-school student in America, forcing teachers to take attendance every hour, paying kids to read, even compulsory health insurance.

To which, Gingrich responded:

“I’ve always said you should have a choice between either having insurance or posting a bond, but that every American should provide for their medical future,” Gingrich answers. He seems a bit annoyed by the question — his tone is somehow both unruffled and peremptory at the same time.

In 2011: Gingrich can be seen flip flopping on the issue of intervening in Libya in appearances took that place within just days of each other.

1993-?: Most prominent of all is Gingrich’s consistent support for an issue that’s nearly identical to what he hopes to bludgeon Obama for supporting: the individual mandate. In this appearance on Meet the Press, Gingrich can be seen in a clip from 1993 speaking in favor of individual mandates, saying: “I have said consistently, we ought to have some requirement that you have health insurance — or you post a bond.”

He can also be seen in many other clips through the years saying the same thing. But Newt now says, he was wrong, all that time, to support individual mandates.

So, just to recap a little, Newt Gingrich — by his own admission — cheated on his first wife back in the 80s, got into hot water for his ethics in the early 90s, and cheated on his second wife by the mid-90s. He got into ethics trouble as soon as he became Speaker over a book deal with Rupert Murdoch, lied to Congress repeatedly for two years during their ethics investigation of him, and he then received punishment by an overwhelming vote of the Republican-controlled House. He’s been “wrong” non-stop for a minimum of 19 years on the issue of individual mandates for health care insurance.

And all of this is supposed to be OK since he apologized for it. In the field of opposition research, Mitt Romney has an embarrassment of riches.

I think those people who cover the Florida fracas and beyond might want to take a lesson from the people who flock to see the watermelon-smashing comic Gallagher perform. Bring a plastic cover-up — because this is going to get messy.