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“The Larger Debate Is Just Beginning”: What We’ve Learned From Romney’s Returns

Mitt Romney’s campaign, as promised, released the former governor’s 2010 tax returns, as well as an estimate for his 2011 returns, and we’re starting to get a sense of why the Republican candidate wasn’t eager to share these details.

Mitt Romney offered a partial snapshot of his vast personal fortune late Monday, disclosing income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million last year — virtually all of it profits, dividends or interest from investments.

None came from wages, the primary source of income for most Americans. Instead, Romney and his wife, Ann, collected millions in capital gains from a profusion of investments, as well as stock dividends and interest payments.

By any fair estimate, over $42 million in income over two years isn’t bad for a guy who jokes about being “unemployed.” Indeed, Romney would be in the top 1% based solely on the income he makes in one week.

Romney said last week that his rate was “closer to 15%,” but as it turns out, despite his vast wealth, he actually only paid a 13.9% rate last year — lower than his political rivals who aren’t nearly as wealthy, and lower than most middle-class American workers.

And what about those overseas investments?

His 2010 return also showed that he had a financial account in Switzerland that was closed in 2010 and that he generated income from overseas investments. He also reported financial accounts in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

A Reuters report added that Romney’s Swiss bank account was closed in 2010 “after an investment adviser decided it could be politically embarrassing to Romney.”

I suspect those with far more expertise in this area will subject these materials to considerable scrutiny, but at first blush, the disclosure appears to raise at least as many questions as it answers.

Why did Romney set up $100 million trust funds for his sons without paying any gift taxes? Were his accounts in the Caymans and in Switzerland created to avoid paying taxes? Was the closing of the Swiss account related to this IRS investigation? And given all of the questions surrounding Romney’s Bain-era work, why does the Republican candidate continue to insist he won’t disclose returns from previous years?

What’s more, following up on a point from last week, even if Romney argues that he’s simply playing by the rules — taking advantage of existing tax loopholes to pay lower rates than much of the middle class — this doesn’t explain why Romney is eager to exacerbate issues on tax fairness with his tax plan that makes the problem worse.

In a debate over tax fairness and income inequality, Romney is practically a case study for What’s Gone Wrong, but he can at least plausibly argue that this is a mess he benefits from, but didn’t create. Romney, however, prefers to believe the problem doesn’t exist.

Greg Sargent did a nice job capturing the larger political context:

I’m not sure the Obama campaign could have scripted this more perfectly. In a remarkable bit of good timing, President Obama is set to deliver a State of the Union speech focused on income inequality and tax unfairness on exactly the same day that Mitt Romney will reveal that he made over $40 million in the last two years — all of it taxed at a lower rate than that paid by middle class taxpayers. […]

Romney doesn’t just disagree with Obama on these fundamental issues; he personally symbolizes virtually the entire 2012 Democratic message. He is the walking embodiment of everything Dems allege is wrong with our system and the ways it’s rigged in favor of the wealthy and against the middle class. Yet this is the standard bearer the GOP seems set to pick.

Romney and his aides believe these materials should end the discussion. That’s backwards — the larger debate is just beginning.


By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, Janueary 24, 2012

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney: Goldman Sachs Guy

Mitt says he’s “not a Wall Street guy.” But in one key way, he’s pure Wall Street.

“I am not a Wall Street guy, classically defined,” said Mitt Romney in a December interview with the Huffington Post. Private equity firm Bain Capital, Romney’s longtime employer and the company that made him rich, he seemed to say, was a different breed from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and the other Wall Street financial titans. It was as if he was distancing himself from the unpopular Wall Streeters who helped cause the 2008 economic collapse.

But in one key way, Romney is pure Wall Street. A review of his personal financial disclosure records shows that a chunk of Romney’s wealth—he’s worth an estimated $190 million to $250 million—comes from investments in an array of Wall Street banks and investment houses, none more so than Goldman Sachs.

Romney and his wife, Ann, have investments in nearly three-dozen various Goldman funds together valued at between $17.7 million to $50.5 million, according to a financial disclosure form (PDF) filed in August 2011. Those investments appear in the blind trusts and individual retirement accounts belonging to the Romneys. Romney’s been a loyal Goldman Sachs client. His 2007 disclosure, filed before his first presidential run, showed Goldman investments valued at between $18.2 million and $51.5 million.

No other Republican presidential candidate comes to close to matching the size and breadth of Romney’s investment portfolio. Nor do any of the other candidates’ personal financial disclosures list any investments in Goldman-run funds. Romney’s big bet on Goldman’s financial wizardry could give more ammo to his critics who attack him as a out-of-touch corporate elite who profited by flipping companies and laying off workers, and who has little in common with average Americans. (A Romney spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.)

Goldman Sachs is considered by many one of the villains of the 2008 financial crisis. In 2010, Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi acidly described Goldman as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.” After a lengthy investigation into the firm’s activities, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) accused Goldman last year of deceiving its clients by selling them complex investments that the firm’s own traders predicted would fail—a charge Goldman vehemently denied. Levin also accused Goldman brass of misleading Congress about its trading activities, referring the matter to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Goldman investments in Romney’s 2011 disclosure are spread across a variety of portfolios and investment funds. A private, Goldman-managed stock portfolio in Mitt Romney’s blind trust worth between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000 contains stock holdings in 32 companies, including Bank of America, McDonald’s, Staples, and Occidental Petroleum. Another Goldman fund, also worth between $1,000,001 and $5,000,000, invests in (PDF) everything from junk bonds to US Treasuries, derivatives to futures, foreign currencies to the government housing corporation Fannie Mae.

Here’s a list of the Romneys’ most recent Goldman investments:


Investment Lowrange Highrange Holder Type
GS Financial Square Federal Fund – FST Shares $5,000,001 $25,000,000 Mitt IRA
GS Private Client Portfolio $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
GS Strategic Income Fund Class 1 $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Small Cap Value Class 1 $500,001 $1,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
GS Financial Square Federal Fund – FST Shares $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Linked to GP GSCI Agriculture, structured note $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Trust GS Inflation Protected Securities Funds – INSTL SHS $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Linked to MSCI EAFE Structured Note $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Local Emerging Mkts Debt FD Mutual Fund $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Strategic Income Fund CL 1 $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc Linked to DJIA Structured Note $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc Linked to DJIA Structured Note $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS 2002 Exchange Place Fund LP $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Capital Partners Fund 2000 LP $500,001 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Global Opportunities Fund LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Partners LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund Partners II LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Trust GS Inflation Protected Securities Fund – INSTL SHS $250,001 $500,000 Mitt Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc Linked to Russell 2000 Index Structured Note $250,001 $500,000 Ann Blind trust
Cash – GS Account $100,001 $250,000 Ann Blind trust
Cash – GS Account $50,001 $100,000 Mitt Blind trust
GS Emerging Markets Opportunities Fund LLC $50,001 $100,000 Mitt Blind trust
GS Capital Partners III LP $15,001 $50,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Financial Square Federal Fund – FST Shares $1,001 $15,000 Ann IRA
Goldman Sachs Core Fixed-Inc Mutual Fund $1,001 $15,000 Ann IRA
The Goldman Sachs Group CMN (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Investment Grade Credit Fund – Inst (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
GS Global Equity Partners I, LLC (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
Cash – GS Account $0 $1,001 Mitt IRA
Goldman Sachs Ultra-Short Duration Government FD (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt IRA
Goldman Sachs Short Duration Government FD (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt IRA


Here’s a list of Goldman investments in Romney’s 2007 disclosure:


Investment Lowrange Highrange Holder Type
Goldman Sachs Financial Square (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Institutional LI (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Bank Deposit $500,000 $1,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Emerging Equity Fund $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Struct Intl Equity Fund $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
GS Global Equity Partners $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc 0% 9/25/08 (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc 0% Due 12/11/2009 (Sold) $0 $1,001 Mitt Blind trust
The Goldman Sachs Group Inc 0% Due 3/25/10 $250,001 $500,000 Mitt Blind trust
GS Emerging Markets Opportunities Fund, LLC $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Global Strategic Energy Fund, LLC $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs GTAA Fund, LCC $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Financial Square Federal Fund $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Intl Real Estate Secs Fund $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS 2002 Exchange Place Fund LP $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Global Opportunities, LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Direct Strategies Fund LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Hedge Fund Partners II LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Hedge Fund Partners LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Quant and Active Direct Strategies Fund, LLC $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Capital Partners Fund 2000, LP $1,000,000 $1,000,000 Ann Blind trust
GS Capital Partners III LP $100,101 $250,000 Ann Blind trust
Goldman Sachs Financial Square Federal Fund $1,000,001 $5,000,000 Mitt IRA
Goldman Sachs Emerging Markets Equity Fund $250,001 $500,000 Mitt IRA
GS Structured US Equity Institutional $100,101 $250,000 Mitt IRA
Goldman Sachs Japanese Equity Fund $0 $1,001 Mitt IRA
Goldman Sachs Financial Square Federal Fund $0 $1,001 Ann IRA
Goldman Sachs Core Fixed-Inc I Mutual Fund $1,001 $15,000 Ann IRA

Romney has grappled with accusations in both of his presidential bids that he’s a lifelong member of the wealthy elite who can’t relate to blue-collar Americans. Romney has recently compounded his 1-percent problem by claiming that $374,000 in speaking fees is “not very much,” betting Rick Perry $10,000 during a nationally televised debate, and revealing that he pays roughly 15 percent in taxes. (A typical middle class family pays closer to 25 percent.)

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, says that while Romney isn’t the first very wealthy man to run for president (think John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt), one of Romney’s basic problems is connecting with middle-class Americans. His many investments in Goldman could shape voters’ opinions of Romney. “The massive Goldman holdings would be another bit of the Romney mosaic,” Sabato says. “It’s another reason why Romney has to find ways to better connect with average people’s problems—because he doesn’t have any of the same problems on his plate.”


By: Andy Kroll, Mother Jones, January 23, 2012

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Food Stamps” Bigotry Feeds GOP Anti-Government Agenda

Newt Gingrich has rightly earned the derision he’s been getting for his performance last Monday night when he threw red meat wrapped in black skin to South Carolina Republicans who gave Gingrich a standing ovation for calling Barack Obama “the greatest food-stamp president in American history.”

When the master propagandist said President Obama “put” more people on food stamps than any president in American history he was deliberately confusing cause with effect.

Obama “put” no one on food stamps, as the New York Times rightly notes. People did that to themselves when they signed up for food assistance because they were poor, jobless or hungry. And the reason they were hungry was because America is suffering the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Indeed, as former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum helpfully reminds us, in South Carolina where Newt Gingrich is now slyly insinuating his poison, residents may be hungrier than most since portions of the state suffer the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the nation and where 100,000 households now depend on food stamps for their daily diet.

By waving foods stamps around like the Confederate Battle Flag which flies aloft the South Carolina statehouse, Gingrich is clearly trying to “feed the prejudice of people who already believe that blacks and other poor people don’t really like to work,” argues the Times.

But the facts belie the bigotry since whites far outnumber blacks who receive foods stamps, notes the Times, and where 30% of those depend on food stamps to supplement the income they earn from working.

So, if you’re looking for the logic behind Gingrich’s raising of the food stamp non-issue forget about it, says the Times, because it just isn’t there.

Gingrich’s comments have been singled out for the scurrilous dog-whistle politics they are, and rightly so. But more important than the racially-charged implications of his coded messaging against minorities is the fact that Gingrich’s impugning of food stamps as a collective response to collective suffering is another manifestation of the larger Republican strategy to blame the current crisis entirely on government itself.

Newt Gingrich’ argument that the President of the United States would deliberately “put” millions of Americans on food stamps, like some drug pusher trying to get the public hooked on government the same way addicts get hooked on crack cocaine, is not all that different in its underlying assumptions and premises from the charges global warming deniers level against climatologists who deniers say exploit fears of the earth’s impending doom to grab power for themselves – or to make life miserable for oil magnets Charles and David Koch, whichever comes first.

It turns out the big banks weren’t the only ones whose failures the government bailed out in 2006 and 2008. Conservatives and Republicans, too, discovered that government can be a life-saver.

For, just as banks dubbed “Too Big To Fail” were able to press the government to cover their losing bets with taxpayer money, so too were true-believing conservatives able to target the government as a ready-made scapegoat for their own grievous blunders and so keep intact their blind faith in economic orthodoxies thought to be Too Veritable to Fail.

Be that as it may, never before had a worldview been more thoroughly repudiated than was the infallibility of unregulated markets by the economic calamity of 2008.

That left Republicans with an important choice to make. They could either man up and defend their record and supply-side principles against mounting evidence they had failed. Or, they could oppose everything the in-coming president did or stood for, and thereby take the emergency steps Barack Obama was forced to make to rescue the country from the disasters bequeathed to him by his retreating Republican predecessors and recast them as steps down some nightmarish path as America’s ancient liberties succumbed to a hostile government takeover.

The GOP left no doubt about which fork in the road it intended to take when right out of the gates House Republicans on a unanimous party line vote rejected Obama’s first $780 million stimulus bill at the height of the economic crisis in early 2009.  This set the tone for all that has transpired in the preceding three years as Republicans execute their strategy of “blame the government first.”

While Republicans in Congress dig in with their rear-guard action to prevent President Obama from governing except on Republican terms, conservatives outside government are engaged in the task of feverishly rewriting history.

It’s what author Thomas Frank in his new book, Pity the Billionaire, calls “the classic switcheroo.”  Republicans have been successful, says Frank, because they’ve been able to lay down a “thick smokescreen of deliberate bewilderment” that replaces real economic fears among middle class families facing job loss and foreclosure with false ones about the impending government takeover of society. It’s a bait and switch tactic being used so that a new villain (the government) can be pushed on stage as target for all those rotten eggs and tomatoes meant for the real villain (Wall Street).

A falsity this vast requires an all-consuming effort to round up and smash any incriminating evidence that might expose the nonsense behind the resurgent Right’s fairy tale for what it is, much like a criminal syndicate does when it ties up loose ends.

And so, says Frank, when the Right refused to accept that the infallibility of “free markets” was a myth, the only other road available to it in 2008 and 2009 was to “declare their true faith in the myth” and then to preserve the delusion by casting out as heretics all those unwelcome reminders conservatism and capitalism had failed — which meant in real life purging from Republican ranks most of the previous generation of people who also called themselves “conservative.”

That is why George W. Bush is a forgotten man and likely to remain a silent one all throughout the 2012 campaign. It is also why so many veteran Republican incumbents were consumed in the purifying fires of the Tea Party or beaten by Tea Party challengers whose single claim on political virtue was that they had virtually no political experience at all.

“Many Americans who had never been politically active, never walked a precinct, never interrupted their golf games, family gatherings or vacations to discuss politics, government or the Constitution were suddenly gripped with the sense that their government, nation and way of life were being stolen from them.”

Listening to that you might think the source of the writer’s worries was the growing concentration of wealth at the top, the theft of our government by Wall Street, the attacks on unions and the right to vote or a Supreme Court that had unleashed an unchecked flood of corporate cash with which to swallow our democracy.

But you’d be wrong. The words above are by right wing Red State blogger Erick Erickson, who gives voice to Tea Party paranoia that providing a lifeline to states to keep teachers in the classroom or cops on the beat or to extend unemployment insurance another few weeks to those who have lost jobs in the worst economic downturn in a century, wasn’t part of the rescue mission we’d expect from any decent government in a crisis like this but was instead a milestone that marked the way as President Obama and lead us down the perilous road to “European-style socialism.”

When Roger Ailes hired Glenn Beck shortly after conservatives were booted from all three branches of government in 2008, he told his new host: “I see this as the Alamo. If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we’d be fine.”

Beck’s assignment was to take Barack Obama’s recovery challenge — that by logical implication exposed the Republican Party’s manifest failures with every problem President Obama managed to solve — and to turn that rescue effort into some vast left wing conspiracy to usher in a new “era of socialism.”

We were soon to learn what that assignment meant. Typical was a show aired in March 2010 when Beck said: “Most people will dread economic recessions and depressions. But some people don’t dread them. Some people are a little more opportunistic. They view this as their big chance, a window of opportunity to seize power to fundamentally transform things. They don’t see this as, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re struggling.’ They see this is as, ‘Now is our time.'”

You’ve got to hand it to Republicans. After their worldview collapsed in a pile of rubble around them they did not retreat or take time to rethink the fundamentals of their major premises. Instead, they responded like French Marshal Ferdinand Foch at the First Battle of the Marne when he declared: “Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent. I attack.”

Watching the way the Republican Party pursues power, I’m reminded of another quote, this one from the character Matt Hooper in the Spielberg classic, Jaws, when the marine biologist calls the Great White Shark a “machine” – a machine that does nothing all day but swim and eat and make little sharks. And that’s all.

Republicans today are just that single-minded — and also that ruthless and unsentimental — just like those Manifest Destiny expansionists that historian Robert W. Merry describes as rallying behind President James K. Polk and his war of conquest against Mexico to divest that often tragic country of its American possessions.

Unlike those Northern Whigs like Abraham Lincoln who opposed the Mexican war on moral grounds, or Southern Democrats like John C. Calhoun who opposed it for disturbing the delicate balance of power between slave state and free, Polk’s land-grabbing supporters understood that ethical considerations miss the fundamental truth about history, which Merry says is this: History does not turn on “normal suasion or concepts of political virtue” but instead moves forward “with a crushing force,” based on “differentials of power, will, organization and population.”

And so from the point of view of history, says Merry, the dismemberment of a “weak and dysfunctional” country like Mexico by a “vibrant, expanding and exuberant” democracy like America was not so much justified as inevitable.

These are the narratives and propensities that Newt Gingrich embodies with a vengeance with his dog-whistle references to food stamps that feed not only racist appetites but also the right wing/Fox News survival-of-the-fittest storyline that doing anything to repair the damage Republicans and free market capitalism have wrought — short of applying an even purer and more robust version of unregulated, untaxed capitalism – is nothing more than socialism and so contrary to the American Way of Life.


By: Ted Frier, Salon, Open Salon Blog, January 20, 2012

January 24, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Poverty | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newt Gingrich Used Gimmick To Avoid Paying Taxes On Millions In Income

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) caused a stir during last week’s Republican presidential primary debate when he released his 2010 tax return and revealed that he had paid a 31.5 percent tax rate on $3.14 million in income. The release came amid widespread calls for Gingrich’s fellow candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R), to release his own tax returns, after Romney admitted his tax rate was about 15 percent.

But further scrutiny of Gingrich’s own returns from tax experts has revealed that his tax rate should have been even higher. That’s because, according to Forbes, Gingrich dodged “tens of thousands of dollars in Medicare payroll taxes” by classifying most of his income from two companies he owns as profits and dividends, therefore avoiding the payroll tax — a technique the IRS has “consistently and successfully attacked” in the past. Newt and Callista Gingrich classified only $444,327 of their income from Gingrich Holdings and Gingrich Productions as ordinary income. Meanwhile, the other $2.4 million earned was classified as profits or dividends, meaning it was not subject to payroll taxes.

According to tax experts interviewed by Forbes, that means Gingrich is dodging taxes he likely should be paying:

It appears that he is not paying his fair share of Medicare tax,’’ Robert E. McKenzie, a partner in the Chicago law firm of Arnstein & Lehr LLP concluded, in an email to Forbes, after reviewing Gingrich’s 2010 tax return. McKenzie, a past chairman of the Employment Tax Committee of the American Bar Association Tax Section and a member of the IRS’ Advisory Council, added:  “There are a multitude of cases where the IRS has successfully challenged the improper tax strategy of this candidate and his accountants. Service businesses are only allowed to distribute a fair return on investment from an S corp. as profits exempt from Medicare taxes. The remainder of profits must be paid as salary subject to a 2.9% Medicare tax levy.”

As Forbes notes, the IRS has specific rules on how payments from a small business like Gingrich Holdings should be treated for tax purposes, and the amount Gingrich says he invested in his companies — between $500,000 and $1 million — is likely “far too little” to “justify booking $2.4 million as profit.” The ploy, however, is used widely. According to the Government Accountability Office, S corps. like Gingrich Holdings underpaid wages by $24 billion in 2003 and 2004, allowing owners to avoid payroll taxes.

Gingrich’s dodge of Medicare taxes, though, pales in comparison to the tax break he’d give himself should he get to the White House. His tax reform plan calls for a flat 15 percent tax rate, slashing his effective rate to 14.6 percent and giving himself a $540,000 tax break in the process.

By: Travis Waldron, Think Progress, January 23, 2011

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newt Gingrich And South Carolina Were Made For Each Other

Hot-headed South Carolina and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are made for each  other. The state first to secede from the Union about 150 years ago remains  defiant, mischievous, and unreconstructed. Not all states are created  equal.

South Carolina, shall we say, made its name early as the   troublemaker. To this day, it doesn’t like to fall in line and sends   elected representatives to Washington cut from that cloth. Down home in   Charleston, men especially still brag on the firing on Fort Sumter, the  shots and  blockade that started the Civil War. Very nice.

So natch Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Republican   presidential primary over the front-runner, former Gov. Mitt Romney. There was no  way  the most viciously verbose and confrontational politician in our  time was not going to win over the weekend. Just like the  confident, beautiful people of the  New England Patriots were going to  see their football team beat the sincere,  scrappy Baltimore Ravens, any  which way. Gingrich’s victory was destined  by the order of the  political court.

The  243,398 Republicans who voted for Gingrich in the Palmetto State  gave him the  first statewide win of his life. Remember, the former  speaker only ever  faced voters in a congressional district in Georgia.  He is not necessarily a  man of the people, no matter what the South  Carolina verdict. Not that I care,  but Romney does not need to fear the  writing on the wall yet.

Gingrich,  like his new best friend state, is an outsider of the  establishment. Gingrich,  like South Carolina, home to the the Citadel,  likes starting the political  equivalent of war, although he never did  military service. Gingrich, like South  Carolina, is steeped in history  which each are capable of entirely misreading  and handing down like  lore.

A  few facts on Gingrich’s own history. As House speaker, he was awed by  President  Clinton’s political prowess and brilliance, as Washington Post associate editor David Maraniss pointed out on Sunday’s Post  op-ed page. He  knew he had met more than his match. Later in Clinton’s  presidency, he  masterminded the House impeachment strategy, carried  out by then-Rep. Henry  Hyde, that nearly doomed Clinton’s fate. The  Monica Lewinsky affair was only a  vehicle. No moral umbrage was  involved, as we now know Gingrich was then having  an affair with an  aide on the Hill, now his third wife Callista Gingrich.

Vengeful  hypocrisy still cuts deep. If Gingrich had his way, Clinton would be as gone as  the good King Duncan in Macbeth.  Sen. Lindsay Graham, then a South  Carolina congressman, was one of  Hyde’s dozen helpers. This was only over a  dozen years ago, but it  seems like “history” we have forgotten.  That’s what Gingrich is  counting on when he talks about God’s forgiveness and  “despicable”  debate queries. That’s what columnists forget when  they write that  Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr was solely responsible for  the  whole tragic circus.

Some  more history on South Carolina. When the greats gathered in a  room to invent  the Republic and its rules, South Carolina’s men were  most adamant about  protecting slavery as an institution. That was  formative fruit on the tree  since. A  South Carolina  congressman caned a Massachusetts senator for his abolitionist  views on  the Senate floor before the Civil War broke out. As noted, they were first to fight  “the Yankees” and call  themselves another country. Over much of the 20th  century, the stubborn  Strom Thurmond of South Carolina made an  indelible mark as an  arch-segregationist, a senator, and a presidential candidate.  Former Sen.  Ernest Hollings, the bright and capable junior senator  with the low country in  his voice, was thankfully a reminder of the  good men and women from that state.

The  Confederate flag has flown over South Carolina for too long. Not  only up  in the air but in the hearts of men. Gingrich won in a state  that is, in  a sense, another country.


By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, January 23, 2012

January 24, 2012 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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