Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goodbye Gingrich?

His opponents sound like Occupy Wall Street protesters as the SEC files charges against six top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who seem not to have profited from Newt Gingrich’s $1.6 million of advice as a historian.

The indictments could be a harpoon to bring down the GOP’s white-haired whale, sharpening attacks on his self-enrichment with court cases rather than vague accusations.

Asked if those ties should disqualify Gingrich as a presidential contender, Rick Perry tells Iowans, “People are sick and tired of being ripped up by congressmen and senators who are in cahoots with Wall Street financiers, and that’s basically what we have here.”

This follows Ron Paul’s debate attack on Newt’s non-lobbying: “They went broke. We had to bail them out. So, indirectly, that was money that he ended up getting.”

When Mitt Romney mildly observed that “people go to serve the people and then they stay there to serve themselves” and suggested that he return the money, Gingrich slid off the hook by retorting that Romney should give back “all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over the years at Bain.”

That kind of slick evasion won’t wash now as the SEC’s chief enforcement officer proclaims in bringing the cases:

“All individuals, regardless of their rank or position, will be held accountable for perpetuating half-truths or misrepresentations about matters materially important to the interest of our country’s investors. Investors were robbed of the opportunity to make informed investment decisions.”

Newt Gingrich may not have been among the masked men holding the guns, but he was around helping them with the getaway cars. Will primary voters be able to blank that image out of their minds?

Update: Even the Wall Street Journal joins the chorus: "Newt Gingrich's opponents aren't letting up in their criticism of his lucrative ties to the failed mortgage giant Freddie Mac after he resigned as House Speaker in the late 1990s.

"More damaging to his Presidential candidacy is that Mr. Gingrich doesn't seem to understand why anyone is offended."

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