Richard Cohen (Washington Post): …The Fact Checker is possibly the most powerful force for good since Clark Kent encountered a phone booth. The other day it laid into Newt Gingrich, who had just announced he was running for president to save the nation from what would happen if he did not run for president.
Glenn Kessler had to use almost 2,000 words in the online version of his Sunday column – so many lies, so little newspaper space – to deal with just some of Gingrich’s exaggerations and wound up awarding him four Pinocchios. For most politicians this would be a titanic embarrassment, but for Gingrich it is not even a personal best.
….This core dishonesty is what separates Gingrich from the rest of the Republican presidential candidates, committed or not-quite-yet. Some of the others say things that are untrue – Sarah Palin’s “death panels,” for instance – but these untruths spill out of the mouths of ditzes. Not so with Gingrich.
He is a former history professor with a doctorate, someone who knows his way around the stacks …. He employs the ugly language of demagoguery not because he is oblivious to its history but on account of it. He mimics. He was, however, brilliantly original in explaining to the Christian Broadcasting Network why he had committed adultery. It had to do with “how passionately I felt about this country” – a genuine contribution to the annals of sexual fibbery….
…There is more than a little Richard Nixon in Gingrich – the same lack of place, the same keen intellect, the same petty fights and imaginary enemies, the same hallucinatory grievances, the same willingness to lie, exaggerate and smear. On a given day, Newt Gingrich could be a brilliant president. On any night, he could be a monster.
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Eugene Robinson: Newt Gingrich’s meltdown on the launch pad …. “I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad. So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have publicly said those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.”
A grateful nation thanks you, Newt Gingrich. The presidential campaign is just starting, and already you’ve given us a passage that will live in infamy – forever – in the annals of American political speech. Your delightful quotation shall be filed under “fiascos” and flagged with a cross-reference to “utter nonsense.”
I can’t remember when we’ve heard a politician plead so desperately to take back something he said. Then again, naked desperation is clearly in order. The favorite parlor game in Washington this week has been trying to remember a more disastrous campaign launch than the one Gingrich is having. Many candidates have stumbled coming out of the gate, but few have taken off like a shot in the wrong direction…..
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