In case you missed it, last night’s debate started with fireworks. CNN’s John King led off by asking Newt Gingrich about the allegations leveled by ex-wife #2, Marianne Gingrich. That story really is nothing more than the type of salacious material normally found in National Enquirer, but new CNN is desperate for viewership. And ABC news has been desperate for relevance ever since Peter Jennings’ death. (For those of you who revel in those sorts of details, Marianne accused Newt of being a womanizer and wanting an “open” marriage. Big deal.)
So, Newt did what Newt does best: leveled a broadside that was so effective it knocked King off his game for the rest of the evening – and effectively painted his ex-wife as nothing more than another vindictive divorcee.
Here’s the full exchange:
Late yesterday afternoon, the Drudge Report reported that ABC is sitting on a “bombshell” interview with Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife.
Color me unimpressed.
First, consider the source. Matt Drudge is, at best, a muckraker. His career was built on looking for the most salacious headlines. Slander and innuendo are his modus operandi. He is more publicity hound than reporter, and this story is exactly what he needed. After a few years of being an afterthought in conservative circles (and even less in liberal ones), people are talking about him again.
Further, rumors abound in conservative circles linking Drudge and James Dobson. Dobson, founder of the conservative group Focus on the Family, is backing Rick Santorum and has thrown some very un-Christian barbs at Newt’s current wife. Now Drudge leaks that ABC is sitting on an interview with Marianne Gingrich, promising details “that will destroy Newt’s campaign.”
Suddenly, Marianne has details that will destroy her ex-husband’s Presidential campaign? Sorry, but scorned women don’t make the best witnesses. What could she possibly tell us that we don’t already know? Newt is a womanizer? He has a nasty temper? He’s ambitious? He believes he’s better than the rest of us?
All of those things are already well-documented over Newt’s 30+ years in elective politics. I have my own doubts about Newt being Presidential material (that temper is troubling when deciding whose finger is on the nuclear button), but Dobson and Drudge seem to be heading into John Quincy Adams territory with this line of attack. The end result of that smear campaign was Andrew Jackson winning, his wife dying, and a man with a well-pronounced vindictive streak seeking retribution for the 8 years of his Presidency (and very nearly causing the Civil War to break out 30 years early in the process).
Rather than inflaming passions of the more prurient, Dobson would be best served by focusing on Newt’s questionable policy arguments.
UPDATE: Andrew Breitbart is now reporting that ABC will air the interview on their Nightline program tonight. Since they’re bypassing higher profile (and viewership) slots to air it, it further reinforces my thought that this doesn’t break any new ground.