Whether Newt Gingrich ever wins another primary after South Carolina or not, he has performed an important service to American voters in this election. Not in the self-important way that he imagines, of course. But Gingrich’s mocking assault on Mitt Romney, his career at Bain Capital and reluctance to disclose his tax returns has driven a national discussion of economic unfairness, tax avoidance, and abuse of financial power that might never have occurred without the Gingrich intervention. The angry intensity of the former Speaker has overcome the usual timidity of the mainstream media – which hesitate to address such matters forthrightly or to offend Republican sensibilities — forcing the salient questions about Romney into the spotlight.
In the final hours of the South Carolina primary campaign, Gingrich verbally flayed his main rival in terms that the Obama White House would probably hesitate to repeat. “Don’t you sort of admire the arrogance and dishonesty of the Romney campaign?” he asked with typical rhetorical flair. “They can’t release their tax records. They’re hiding. He can’t even answer coherently (at) a debate. … Until he files his tax returns, I’m not going to take anything he says seriously about being open.”