Very few politicians have provided as much villainous entertainment over the years as Newt Gingrich, who now assures everyone that he has “matured” since his brief and tumultuous reign on Capitol Hill. While the former speaker may at last have settled into a third marriage, there is no sign of improvement in his character. He is rising in current polls because Mitt Romney repels many Republicans and he is the last alternative. But Gingrich’s most recent debate performance revealed the same brazen dissembler whose flaws proved ruinous to him and — were he to win the nomination — would be disastrous for his party. On Nov. 9, with millions watching, he uttered a bald lie that revived memories of his most embarrassing moments in Washington.
The moment of truth — or more accurately, falsehood — came when CNBC’s John Harwood noted that back in 2006, Gingrich was paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac, the gigantic federally backed housing financier. “What did you do for that money?” asked Harwood, while attempting to suggest that Gingrich sought to “fend off” stricter regulation of Freddie Mac and its sister company, Fannie Mae, by officials in the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve worried about the firms’ inflated $5 trillion in mortgage securities.