The Ballad of Fannie, Freddie, and Newt
the last paragraph which goes after other GOP candidates, I can’t find a single word that strikes me as wrong or false in today’s lead New York Times editorial
about Newt Gingrich and Fannie and Freddie. My interpretation would be different from the Times’, however. They place the emphasis on Gingrich’s hypocrisy in criticizing the process which led to the housing crisis while he himself was a part of that process and profited hugely from it. That is true, but its larger significance to me is the way it fits into Gingrich’s overall profile. The problem is not merely that Gingrich is dishonest or self-seeking as many politicians are. It’s that nothing that Gingrich says means anything
. Each day of his life he spouts all kinds of intelligent-sounding things, but these things bear no connection with other
things that he says and does on other
days. He is a famed “intellectual” with no intellectual center. He has a highly charged brain and a mouth that never stops moving, but he has no developed human self—no conscience—holding these energies together. As he devastatingly said
about himself just last year (at the age of 67), he is a four year old child ever in search of a new cookie. That so many Republicans would support such a radically flawed and unformed individual for president of the United States does not, to put it mildly, suggest a party that is capable of defeating the Democrats and leading the country.
The truth about Gingrich is that the more intelligent, forceful, impressive, and conservative his statements seem, the less meaning and reality they actually have. Republicans should already know this about him. They have no excuse for not knowing it about him. But, amazingly, most of them seem not to know it, and if they are so idiotic as to nominate him, let alone elect him, they will will have to learn it to their infinite cost.
Here is the editorial:
The Inside Man
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For months, Newt Gingrich tried to ingratiate himself with the Republican Party’s right wing by tearing down the two government-sponsored mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He joined the counterfactual conservative chorus that prefers to blame the companies for the housing crisis rather than the banks. He lamented their cozy relationship to Washington’s insiders. And he was rewarded with a swell of support from the anybody-but-Mitt-Romney crowd.
The self-styled reform candidate left out a small detail. He made a great deal of money from Freddie Mac for many years, and he was deeply tied to its power structure.
In his latest book, “To Save America,” Mr. Gingrich slams the companies as “so thoroughly politicized” and “irresponsible” that they should be replaced by smaller companies, without government backing, that “focus on making a profit, not manipulating politicians.” In an October debate of the Republican presidential candidates, he suggested that Representative Barney Frank be put in jail for being close to Freddie’s lobbyists.
In a debate earlier this month, however, he was asked what he did in exchange for $300,000 from Freddie in 2006. He said he advised the company, “as a historian,” not to make loans to people without a credit history. That’s a nice sum for fortune-cookie wisdom, but it turned out to be just a fraction of his inside deal. This week, Bloomberg News reported that Freddie Mac paid him between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in “consulting fees” over eight years beginning in 1999, ostensibly to help design a program to expand home ownership, among other policy matters.
The real reason he was hired, as company officials make clear, was to act as a liaison to conservatives on Capitol Hill. It wasn’t technically a lobbying job, but in 2006 Freddie needed help with rising Republican anger at the companies, and the former speaker of the House had the right credentials. That’s typical of the mortgage companies, which over the years have handed out large paychecks to many of the biggest names in Washington, from both parties, in hopes of staying on everyone’s good side.
It’s also typical of Mr. Gingrich, who has become quite prosperous trading on his influence in Washington while simultaneously pretending he despises the city’s essential nature. The man who regularly rails against “the Washington culture of consultants” is one of its better-paid members. On Friday, The Washington Post reported that one of his think tanks collected $37 million over the last eight years from health care companies and insurers that wanted to be close to a prominent Republican.
Hypocrisy and hyperbole are bound up in the daily promises of the Republican candidates to shut huge parts of the government. Rick Perry wants to close two or possibly three departments; Michele Bachmann would close the E.P.A. and repeal its regulations; and Mr. Romney would scrap a health care system virtually identical to the one he created in Massachusetts. But Mr. Gingrich’s deception was offensive its own way. He has benefited lavishly from the very spendthrift cronyism that he attacks.
Richard O. writes:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 19, 2011 08:35 AM | Send
Each day of his life he spouts all kinds of intelligent-sounding things, but these things bear no connection with other things that he says and does on other days. He is a famed “intellectual” with no intellectual center. He has a highly charged brain and a mouth that never stops moving, but he has no developed human self—no conscience—holding these energies together.
That’s it exactly, Larry. Newt “gets” it lots of times but then you see him on a couch with Peolosi, supporting Scozafava, or playing the Washington insider role.