The pot calling the kettle ‘nasty’

Kevin Drum flagged a Newt Gingrich quote yesterday that’s almost hard to believe. In fact, I watched the video just to make sure the Republican wasn’t misquoted in the print piece.

“Politics has become a really nasty, vicious, negative business and I think it’s disgusting and I think it’s dishonest,” Gingrich told ABC News aboard his campaign bus in Iowa.

I’d genuinely love to know whether the disgraced former House Speaker is so far gone, he literally doesn’t remember his own record. As Kevin noted a month ago, Gingrich is largely and personally responsible “for the poisonous state of partisan politics in America today.”

To be sure, Gingrich didn’t invent toxic partisanship, but looking back over the last three decades, no individual did more to create our nasty, vicious, and negative political climate than Newton Leroy Gingrich. Indeed, no one else comes close.

Hearing him complain about political maliciousness is akin to Mitt Romney complaining about dishonest rhetoric — it requires a stunning lack of self-awareness.

Speaking of Gingrich, Matt Bai has a lengthy item on the disgraced former House Speaker in the New York Times Magazine today, and it includes this jaw-dropper.

Gingrich says now, in what may be a characteristic bit of revisionist history, that it was clear early on that he needed to break free of his highly paid and conventional consultants, and that he and his wife, Callista, actually took their much-maligned Greek vacation last June — a pleasure trip in the middle of what was supposed to be his ramp-up as a candidate — in order to provoke a confrontation with the campaign’s leadership. (Gingrich later added that he really needed to see the Greek fiscal crisis up close.)

I’d love to know what it would take for a serious person to believe this. Gingrich’s new line is that he, just three weeks after launching a presidential campaign, decided to go on a luxury cruise to Greece. He did this in order to (a) infuriate his own staff, who had foolishly hoped the presidential candidate would start campaigning for the presidency, and who subsequently quit in disgust; and (b) be a tourist in a country facing a fiscal crisis.

We’ve all heard plenty of after-the-fact spinning to explain away embarrassments, but this clearly belongs in the “you’ve got to be kidding me” category.