Pious Baloney, Then and Now

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I see that Newt Gingrich is retreating from his broadsides against Mitt Romney for “looting” the companies that Bain Capital invested in. But the atonement comes after several days of severe criticism, and Newt is now attacking Mitt on a second front involving his character and integrity. It also comes after a barrage of counter-criticism of Newt by prominent conservatives. Today I heard Rush Limbaugh saying that shots at Romney’s “vulture capitalism” are “indefensible” and “the way Fidel Castro thinks.” (Rush was referring specifically to Perry, but he’s also said much of the same about Gingrich.) It also comes after a remarkable brush-back pitch thrown at Newt’s guardian angel, Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, by Romney supporter John Sununu.

This back-and-forth reminds me of a great moment of what Newt himself might call “pious baloney.” Before he turned into the Republican race’s most vicious attack dogs, he was a paragon of Republican unity and goodwill–a role he played with dripping condescension in the fall debates. Remember this September sneer at a question from Politico‘s John Harris?

“I’m frankly not interested in your effort to get Republicans fighting each other…. I for one and I hope that all of my friends up here are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other, to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated. And all of us are committed as a team. Whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama.”

This baloney has a first name, it’s N-E-W-T…

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