Oh, happy day — The Newt is in! And the national Republican Party's presidential nomination field just got goofier with his leap into the fray.
The former House speaker touts himself as a "futurist" and as a deep-thinking "transformationalist." Indeed he says he has transformed himself from a serial adulterer into a family man — just in time for the primaries.
Newt could be a hoot — except that he's a carefully constructed fraud. Gingrich is and always was little more than an old-time, business-as-usual corporate hack, and that's what he would be if he somehow made it to the White House. Since he left Congress in 1999, the essence of his K Street business empire (known as "Newt Inc.") is to work the back rooms of the Capitol to get legislative favors for corporations, which reward him richly for his efforts.
In other words, he is a Washington lobbyist. But that's not a great job title for one who now wants to pose as a champion of the average Joe, so Newt heatedly rejects it: "I am not a lobbyist," he barked in a recent letter to the Wall Street Journal.
Really? Let's call the roll of a few of those who've ponied up hundreds of thousands of dollars to have Gingrich work Congress for their benefit: AstraZeneca, Blue Cross, the ethanol industry, Freddie Mac, IBM, Microsoft and UPS.
These and dozens of other corporate powers have praised Gingrich for opening doors and opening the public treasury to benefit them, yet he refuses to register as the paid influence peddler that he is. Instead, he does a delicate little dance around rules that everyone else must obey when lobbying Congress on behalf of paying clients. He is not technically lobbying, he explains, because his legislative effort "benefits the country at large."
Wow — not only is Newt a fraud, he's also a megalomaniac.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.