On yesterday’s radio program Peter Wehner, one of the wiser heads in D.C., wondered aloud with me on how difficult it is to judge political conversion stories --the “new” Newt v. “old” Newt narrative, Catholic edition. Those old enough to have lived through the new/old Nixon debate aren’t interested enough to weigh in –well, there is Al Hunt—and in the 45 years since a disgraced and beaten pol mounted a comeback via the presidency has seen everything change in terms of rules and technology.
If Newt makes it to 1600, he will have material for three or four Enemies Lists.
Rick Santorum, also a guest on Wednesday’s program –transcript here—is restrained when it comes to talking about Newt, as is Romney. Newt has been unfailingly gracious towards his competitors, and they to he, and this has been a good thing for all concerned. The jabs will pick up and the elbows get sharper now, but Newt’s real opponents aren’t on the stage.
They are from battles fought decades ago in a town where memory is a bar stool away in the form of anyone who didn’t get what they came for, didn’t make the deal, didn’t get the job or the glory.
If you spend your life in Washington, D.C., the old saying goes, and you want a friend, get a dog. The friends of Newt Gingrich have just begun to embrace two other old sayings: “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” and “Paybacks are hell.”
What these old opponents don’t yet seem to grasp is that every attack from within the gates establishes Newt’s “outsider” credibility. To the battalions and brigades of Tea Partiers watching must occur the question: “If the D.C. elite loathes him so much, shouldn’t we be for him?”