If you’re a presumptive Republican candidate for president, tearing across crucial states such as Iowa and Ohio, you don’t want to lose a news cycle to a biting editorial generated by the Wall Street Journal.
Alas, this is what has happened to Newt Gingrich, dubbed “Professor Cornpone” in an unsigned piece published today. A few tastes:
The former Speaker blew through Des Moines last Tuesday for the Renewable Fuels Association summit, and his keynote speech to the ethanol lobby was as pious a tribute to the fuel made from corn and tax dollars as we’ve ever heard. Mr. Gingrich explained that “the big-city attacks” on ethanol subsidies are really attempts to deny prosperity to rural America, adding that “Obviously big urban newspapers want to kill it because it’s working, and you wonder, ‘What are their values?’”
One senses a generational gulf in this next paragraph:
Mr. Gingrich is right that ethanol poses an intellectual problem, but it has nothing to do with a culture war between Des Moines and New York City. The real fight is between the House Republicans now trying to rationalize the federal fisc and the kind of corporate welfare that President Obama advanced in his State of the Union. We’ll dwell on this problem not merely because Mr. Gingrich the historian brought it up, but because it and he illustrate so many of the snares facing the modern GOP.
Finally, the knife with a twist:
Some pandering is inevitable in presidential politics, but, befitting a college professor, Mr. Gingrich insists on portraying his low vote-buying as high “intellectual” policy. This doesn’t bode well for his judgment as a president. Even Al Gore now admits that the only reason he supported ethanol in 2000 was to goose his presidential prospects, and the only difference now between Al and Newt is that Al admits he was wrong.
A note to younger readers: The key to understanding the “Professor Cornpone” label can be found in an essay by Mark Twain, published after his death, discussing the self-interest embedded in opinions generated for public consumption.
Stripped of dialect: “Show me where a man gets his corn-pone ground, and I’ll tell you what his opinion is.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider