Emmett Tyrrell

 Both Gingrich and Clinton benefited from the 1990s adjournment of character as a desideratum for public life. Very cleverly, candidate Clinton in the 1992 campaign managed to banish character as a campaign issue. He portrayed the topic as a Republican dirty trick, and the journalists swallowed it. Eight years later it became clear why Clinton was desperate to render the question of character a topic unfit for public discussion. By then Gingrich too needed this dispensation. Of course, Republicans are more fastidious than Democrats when it comes to personal morals, and so when Gingrich's cutie was discovered even as he was impeaching Clinton for lying about a cutie and obstruction, Republicans gave Gingrich the heave-ho.

 Now Gingrich is back, and he expects Republican women to forget his treatment of women. He expects Republicans to forget how he bungled the 1998 off-year elections, claiming at one point that Republicans were actually going to pick up seats when -- truth be known -- they were lucky to preserve their margin. One of the reasons for the Republicans' losses that year was that the Boy Speaker rushed an omnibus spending bill laden with pork through the House, to the dismay of Republican voters. The other was his sophomoric handling of one of the most important constitutional crisis of the 20th century, Clinton's impeachment. One day he would summon Republicans to attack. The next day he would claim to be aghast at their combativeness. Again Clinton bested him.

 Now he believes that he is a plausible candidate for the presidency. Given his erratic record, do I need to adduce any more evidence that he is a fantasist? He fashioned the Republican takeover of the House in 1994 with the indispensable assistance of his cogenerationists from the gaseous 1960s, the Clintons. In 1998 he recklessly imperiled his party's dominance and disgraced his name. Since his fall he has, as has his Democratic look-alike, strutted and pontificated tirelessly. Both had their moment in history, and both blew it.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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