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King Features Column on Demagoguery as a Political Movement

(The current understanding with the indicators means this coumn appears here about a week after its newspaper release)

FROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 15th FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019

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BOB FRANKEN

FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, DEC. 16, 2011

NEWTMITTPICKING

BY BOB FRANKEN

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, or “Newt Romney” in the Book of Bachmann, are both right. Not “right” as in pretend ultraconservative, but correct. About each other.

When Romney suggests that Gingrich should give back the $1.6 million he was paid being a “historian” for the disgraced mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he was onto something. The payoffs were really for Newt's membership in the D.C. family, with relationships so incestuous that the theme song could be “Dueling Banjos.” For those barely past puberty, the song is from the movie “Deliverance.” Of course, Newt didn't really deliver anything but his inbred connections, even though he insists he was never a lobbyist. In Washington-speak, one doesn't have to be an official “lobbyist” in order to lobby.

As always, Newt Gingrich was ready with a scathing putdown citing all of Mitt Romney's money “earned bankrupting companies and laying off employees.” In case someone is wondering about Gingrich's promise to stay “positive,” in campaign-speak, “positive” means “negative.”

It also is possible that each can be on the winning side of the argument and the losing at the same time.

Gingrich has never missed an opportunity to take big bucks from the very same inside-the-beltway operators he trashes when it suits his purpose.

And Romney's highly touted business career is riddled with the kind of financial manipulation and job slashing that got us into the economic mess and keeps us mired in it.


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As Michele Bachmann gleefully pointed out, Newt and Mitt seem to morph into one big hypocrite. They both switch positions and gloss over their records whenever and however it fits into the narrative of the day.

Bachmann and some of the other candidates are noted for their loopiness and harsh extremism. NewtMitt (which I prefer) are no nitwits. They are a worse kind of extreme, as in extremely calculating. Their morality seems to be an embrace of what it takes to win, remarkable even in the amoral world of politics.

There is one huge difference between the two of them: Mitt Romney always appears to be a contrivance. Nastiness, by contrast, comes natural to Newt Gingrich. There is another difference: Mitt Romney declined to participate in a debate that was going to be moderated by Donald Trump. Trump pulled out after almost all the candidates said they wouldn't take part because it demeaned the race (imagine how low that goes). But guess who was going to APPEAR. Newt Gingrich.

And why not? After all, when his campaign was down below the doldrums just a few weeks ago, the debates were the only place he could be seen. He couldn't afford any other forum. It also was where all the others displayed their shortcomings, While all Newt Gingrich had to do was aim a few shots at the hated media questioners...That and just stand their grinning like a Cheshire cat while his opponents imploded.

One would think that for the Democrats, Barack Obama would merely have to stand aside while the GOP self-destructs. But that's his problem: Frustrated backers believe he's done too much standing aside waiting...while Republicans walk all over him. The latest polls show a bipartisan disgust at the direction of this country. With the way things are going and how the system chooses its winners, it's not hard to see why.

© 2011 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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