The Melt-Downs of Spring

It is only mid-June a year out from the election, but already it’s been a banner month for political melt-downs.  

First, we had the embarrassing spectacle of serial sexter Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat of Brooklyn, whose narcissism appears to be exceeded only by his ignorance of how electronic communication devices work.  Then, in the very midst of the Weiner sexting scandal, we witnessed a melt-down of quite a different sort, when former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s nascent presidential campaign imploded with the mass resignation of nearly his entire campaign staff. 

Weiner already has been forced to announce his resignation (a foregone conclusion once the entire Democratic leadership in the Congress at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue abandoned him).  Whether Gingrich can survive his organizational melt-down remains unclear.  However, both cases offer important lessons for other political figures. 

For Weiner, the lessons are (or should be) obvious.  Rule Number One is, do not send sexually-suggestive messages or lewd photographs of yourself, to other people.  As a corollary to Rule Number One, if you happen to suffer – as Weiner apparently does – from an irresistible urge to violate Rule Number One, always double check to whom you are sending the photos or messages before you click the “send” button.  As virtually every young person beyond puberty knows, once you send a message (whether or not it contains a photo), you have forever lost control of it.  

Weiner Rule Number Two, also known as the “Nixon Watergate Rule,” is — once it becomes known you have violated Rule Number One, do NOT lie about it.  The sin, bad as it might be, is always made worse – sometimes far worse – by the cover up.  Here, Weiner failed abjectly and paid the price.

The nature of Newt Gingrich’s recent melt-down, however, affords him at least a thin life line with which to pull himself from the brink of political death; at least in the short term. 

First of all, and perhaps most crucial to Gingrich’s fate, his melt-down was not a sexual scandal; the most difficult of all melt-downs to survive.  While indications are that his personal idiosyncrasies in setting campaign priorities, were a primary cause of his staff’s decision to abandon the former Speaker, the fact remains the affair was essentially political.  And with so much happening in the GOP political arena right now, with other real or potential candidates jockeying for the limelight, there will be myriad other targets to attract and deflect media attention; offering Gingrich some breathing room in which to resuscitate his campaign.

For Gingrich, however, the most difficult factor he must address if he is to stand any chance of remaining a viable candidate, is Gingrich himself.  Once described as “someone who can focus like a laser beam on 50 issues at once,” the former Georgian must grasp that he is seeking votes from average citizens, not the former secretaries of defense and Fortune 500 CEOs who have been his audience over the past dozen years, during which he has built his consulting empire and accumulated substantial wealth.

Gingrich and Weiner, so divergent politically and in terms of personal weaknesses, nevertheless suffer from a common flaw – resistance to change.  The New Yorker is on the fast path to permanent political irrelevance.  If Gingrich can for once truly listen to and heed sound advice, and learn to channel his considerable intelligence to Joe Six Pack instead of Chivas Regal, reports of his demise may once again prove highly exaggerated.

By Bob Barr – The Barr Code

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June 17th, 2011
8:02 am

It is true that the behaviors of Gingrich and Weiner offer important lessons for other political figures. It is also true we can count on some of these other politicians totally ignoring these lessons and making the same mistakes. Learning from the mistakes of others is beyond many politicians.


June 17th, 2011
8:57 am

why are you writing about Wiener/Gingrich now? Geez, this story has been non-stop for the last 2 weeks.

the original and still the best John Galt

June 17th, 2011
9:55 am

These two politicians are actually quite similar. Both have trouble keeping their britches zipped, and they both let their mouths get them in trouble. As ever, about a nickle’s worth of difference.

Average Joe

June 17th, 2011
11:27 am

I like Newt and think he has a lot of great ideas (when ignoring his personal shortcomings). But I think he is running to promote his own personal agenda and for the ultimate financial benefits. He is smart enough to know he has no chance of winning the election. Therefore, I think he is financially motivated and that may be why his staff left him. I think Mr. Weiner put all his shortcomings out on the web, so that issue is moot.

Moral Citizen

June 17th, 2011
12:34 pm

There is nothing wrong with sending lewd photos of yourself to someone else. Who cares if they surface again? It is no one’s business unless your morals are somehow someone else’s business. There are situations when that is the case (e.g. politicians) but they are rare. For most people, your morals are simply no one else’s business. Americans need to learn to mind their own business.


June 17th, 2011
12:39 pm

Anthony Weiner sent pics of his schlong to a 17 year old girl.

Newty cheated on his wife while going after Bill Clinton for doing the same.

All in all, neither of these two will hold public office ever again. At best, Weiner will get a cushy job with either the DNC or the Obozo administration.

Newt will write more books, appear on Fox and act like he’s going to run for president.


June 17th, 2011
12:40 pm

“There is nothing wrong with sending lewd photos of yourself to someone else. ”

There is when you hold public office, Gump. Especially when you send pics to a 17 year old girl. Also, this Weiner loser spent most of his time ridiculing other people.

“Americans need to learn to mind their own business.”

Public officials ARE America’s business. Especially when our tax dollars pay these losers salaries.


June 17th, 2011
1:15 pm

Gingrich’s meltdown is the same as Weiner’s at it’s very core: Lack of discipline. Both involved sex and infidelity, and outrageous lack of morality. Gingrich’s meltdown took longer.

According to reports, it seemed to his staff, Gingrich really didn’t want to be President of the United States. Was it really all about selfish promotion? Even to his strongest supporters, it seems so.


June 17th, 2011
1:33 pm

newt has little chance to win the nomination. i daresay that many southern conservatives are put off by the circustances of his divorces. the bigger issue is his apparent inability to communicate with or relate to those who are not on his intellectual level. that would include some 97 percent of the american people.

Pie Chart

June 17th, 2011
1:44 pm

One din’t have 2 read this article by Barr. The master of the obvious line strikes again. This guy is out of material and ideas. This blog is already on the ash heap of the hack stack.


June 17th, 2011
1:47 pm

Does a U.S. representative eating the breast milk cheese of a Kazakh journalist’s mother count as a political scandal?


June 17th, 2011
1:52 pm

My issue with Newt is leadership. I am very respectful of his past accomplishments in Congress and for the GOP in elections past, but leadership is situational and a policy wonk legislative mover and shaker is not what we need right now in the White House.

The next president needs to clearly communicate the right direction for this nation, a direction based on the core traditional values that made this country great and provide the backbone for leading our Nation and the world into the future, command the respect of the electorate and leadership in Washington to garner support for his or her Administration and programs, and rise above the partisan politics to govern unwaveringly in the best interests of the American people.

This pretty much narrows the GOP field, and in my book that’s three strikes and out for the current President.


June 17th, 2011
1:59 pm

Meeestur Bob. We thinks Mr Newt eez like the cheese…a wee sour. Meestur Weiner can come to our country and be a suasage maker. We will like Weiner’s Weiners in our land.


June 17th, 2011
2:46 pm

Nothing wrong. I am on the internet all the time at work, etc… no one elses business. I have things to do. If they too dumb to notice, their fault.

money pla

June 17th, 2011
3:54 pm

Gingrich can’t win—he knows that. But he can get millions in free publicity for his books and movies, which will give him even more millions in book and movie royalties, speaking gigs, media deals, consulting, campaign cash, etc. allowing him and his trophy wife to live the life of luxury and run a $500,000 tab at tiffanys—newt’s a money machine!

Pie Chart

June 17th, 2011
4:01 pm

THis blog blows along with any moron who comments on it. (cept’in moi, of course).

Chart Pie

June 17th, 2011
4:11 pm

“THis blog blows along with any moron who comments on it.”

You blow goats.


June 17th, 2011
4:46 pm

Republicans run on a platform of moral superiority and accuse liberals of lacking values. When a liberal gets caught with his pants down, they point and say, “see, I told you so”. When a conservative gets caught with his pants down, the liberals say, “what a bunch of hypocrites you Republicans are”. Bottom line, quit politicizing morality or the lack thereof. Doesn’t matter if you’re R- or D-, if you’re human, you’re flawed.

R or D.....they are the same

June 17th, 2011
5:15 pm

The Republicans, under Newt and after, spent like drunken sailors. The Dems, under everyone who’s ever been in charge, have spent like drunken sailors. Now, they each want to blame the other. They are all human, they are mostly in it for themselves, otherwise they’d reform lobbying laws, and get down to fixing the mess that they each have had a part in creating.


June 17th, 2011
8:08 pm

R or D – Yes, at the core they are all politicians, and we have to expect them act like politicians. But there are two important caveats: There IS a difference between current Democrats and Republicans (excepting RINOs, of course). Key is the philosophical difference regarding the role of government in our lives and business. Second, we are looking for leaders. Politicians CAN be leaders, but some are better than others and many are heading in the wrong direction. Better to follow the turtle down the right path rather than the hare racing over the edge of the cliff.


June 17th, 2011
8:26 pm

I always think of the internet as one gigantic party line. I like making comments directly to the online news. For someone to think that the internet is private is borderline ludicrous. MY computer harddrive has gone up on me and now there is nothing stored so I use a public computer. IT IS NOT THE SAME, i LIKE TO REseARCH MY STUFF.


June 18th, 2011
7:01 am

It amazes me that people always say Newt is so intelligent. When he was in Congress I was one of his constituents, and I must say that I have never, ever found the man to be intelligent. Self absorbed, filled with the wonder of his own voice, he was always belligerent and more intent on being right than he was in working with the rest of the Congress to get their job done. Intelligent people are usually ones that are able to see alternative points of view and compromise. Another thing about Newt is that he is a bender with the wind. If it’s his idea it’s good. If a Democrat espouses the same idea it become a bad idea. But then this is true of most Republicans.


June 19th, 2011
5:59 am

Newt is a yankee carpetbagger from PA who lived in GA, never a former Georgian – as he care very little for working and non-working(laid off) Georgians. He cares for the current wife and will lie to her in a heartbeat like he has done to the other wives. He will have health problems, he should take better care of himself if he is so smart.

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June 19th, 2011
11:41 pm

No one has commented on your blog Bob since 6 o’clock this am. I think the material should have been better thought out. Were you under a deadline? Hmmmm. Anyway, Mr Weiner is gone and Newt is simply a jerk who has zero chance of ever becoming president. NEXT!

Alabama Communist

June 20th, 2011
12:14 am

No doubt Bob has expose Newt as just another ego minded political fool who thinks he is still the King of the Weeners……..