How is Newt a no-go for the White House? Let me count the ways…
He’s back! He’s running! Like the eponymous amphibian who loses a tail and keeps on coming, the Georgia rascal is sliding back into the political game. If you have not yet seen therisible video of Newt’s jowly announcement that he will once again seek the nation’s highest office, then grab a coffee, sit back, and enjoy.
Newt’s candidacy is going nowhere, and will only serve to divert enormous amounts of corporate cash from his fellow Republicans. But it will brighten the days of progressive bloggers, who think him very entertaining and aren’t overworried about his chances of winning, because he’s got….
Too much nasty: Q. When does a pecadillo become a perverse pattern? A. When you have numerous affairs and then point the moral finger at a sitting president for his. And if you’re trying to convert Evangelical Christians to your cause, piling it on as Newt has done with the famous dumping-the-wife-recovering-from-cancer hospital scene is no-no. His bitter intolerance for gays, Muslims, African Americans, poor people, immigrants, and others who do not look, think, and act like him is likewise problematic for assuring voters that the GOP has made it into the 21st century. Which brings me to Newt’s second problem…
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Too much Old White Dude: If you want to run against a fit, handsome, young, mixed-race president, it’s not helpful to be a chubby, aging, white guy. Potentially being the oldest in the field of GOP candidates is not a helpful distinction — I mean, gravitas can work, but Newt is too prone to silly outbursts to pull this off. Looking like you’re completely out of touch with the young and hip — who can’t remember what it was like before cell phones, much less what you were doing with your first Contract with America — will not the White House win you. And to how women react to you when you’re on wife number three…well, let’s just say it does not add to the enthusiasm.
Too much crazy: Newt is a bright, contrarian type of guy who enjoys thinking about cool stuff like physics. I’m down with that. But unfortunately his brain seems to misfire in ways that are hard to reconcile with political viability. If you’re a guy who likes to write reviews on Amazon in which you display your penchant for deriving foreign policy ideas from spy thrillers, you may have a bit of explaining to do. But you’re courting real trouble if you go around flapping about Obama’s “Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior” and comparing freedom to beach volleyballs (See this helpfulcompendium of the “11 Craziest Things Newt Ever Said”).
Too many Newts: There have been many Newts, and unfortunately for his current incarnation, the Ghosts of Newts Past tend to haunt the politician in inconvenient ways. At one point, he was a Rockefeller Republican. Then he was an Environmentalist. Then he was a social conservative, a supply-side conservative, an Evangelist-courting-Roman Catholic, etc. etc.. An uncharitable view would suggest that he is Whatever Newt Has the Best Chances of Being Elected. And since he still doesn’t really have any chance of actually being elected, perhaps he’s never really found himself.
Too much Pay-to-Play: The number of ethics violations Newt racked up through unsavory money transactions as Speaker of the House is breathtaking. But the worst thing about Newt is what Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Tom Ferguson pointed out in a recent interview with New Deal 2.0: He can be credited as one of the architects of the current pay-to-pay system in Congress. You know, the one where you get a committee appointment bringing in the most cash. This crass, ruthless turn in American politics is among the most damaging to democracy and has done more to separate the will of the voters from the actions of the politicians they elect than perhaps anything else in the last fifty years. It’s the revolting mentality that induces Newt’s former buddy and fellow Georgia politician Ralph Reed to talk giddily about his need to “hump corporate accounts“. Americans have a deep anger just now about the degree to which Big Business buys the political system, and Newt’s coziness with that particular sector will open him up to all sorts of unpleasantness.
And that, in a nutshell, is why Newt will never be president.
Lynn Parramore is the editor of New Deal 2.0, Media Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute fellow, co-founder of Recessionwire, and the author of Reading the Sphinx.