From John Cassidy at THE NEW YORKER:
Take the ludicrous suggestion that Freddie Mac, the smaller of the two government-sponsored mortgage giants, may have expected Newt to do some lobbying on its behalf when, in 2006, it paid him the very modest sum of $300,000. Any fair-minded person would agree that Newt quashed this idea during one of last week’s debates. He explained that Freddie’s executives hired him for his expertise as a historian, adding that he warned them to stop lending money to folks who couldn’t repay their loans. In Newt’s own words: “My advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, ‘We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do.’ As I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.”
That explanation was more than good enough for me. But darn it if a couple of quibbling scribblers from Bloomberg News didn’t put out a report yesterday, quoting former executives of Freddie Mac saying that Newt was hired “to build bridges to Capitol Hill Republicans and develop an argument on behalf of the company’s public-private structure that would resonate with conservatives seeking to dismantle it.”
According to this non-story, Newt attended brainstorming sessions with Freddie’s top brass about how Freddie Mac could gain more political support on Capitol Hill, and, in February, 2007, he visited the company’s headquarters and spoke to forty or fifty of the firm’s employees about the Presidential campaign. The article went on: “None of the former Freddie Mac officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said Gingrich raised the issue of the housing bubble or was critical of Freddie Mac’s business model.”
What is it about Newt’s explanation that his critics don’t get?
The folks peddling this lobbying garbage—today Bloomberg has another story, which says that Freddie Mac paid Newt a total of $1.6 million over the years—are probably the same people who are re-circulating a video of Newt’s speeches in 2007, when he referred to Spanish as the language of the “ghetto.”…snip…
As for the renewed gossip about Newt’s private life, I hesitate to dignify it by even bringing it up. But one ridiculous story has to be addressed, because it has already appeared in a book. That’s the claim that Newt purchased more than a million dollars in jewelry from Tiffany’s to “pay off” his third wife, Callista, so she wouldn’t object to his running for President. Tom Bevan and Carl Cannon, the two reporters from Real Clear Politics who make this allegation in their new e-book, “Election 2012: The Battle Begins,” quote an unnamed campaign strategist who told them that Callista was “the single worst influence on a candidate I’ve ever seen.”
Where do these bozos get off? Anybody who was in Webster City, Iowa, on Tuesday afternoon to see the fragrant Mrs. Gingrich speaking to G.O.P. supporters about American exceptionalism, could see instantly that she didn’t need any inducement to support her husband’s campaign to save us all from a threat worse than smallpox: i.e. “Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine.” My goodness, this talented woman has just published a book that is devoted to the same noble cause her husband is pursuing. Entitled “Sweet Land of Liberty,” it aims to teach four-to-eight year olds about the great events in American history through the eyes of Ellis the Elephant, her very own literary creation. If that’s not the stuff of a future First Lady, I don’t know what is.