Sixteen years ago this week, the U.S. House ethic panel opened an investigation into Newt Gingrich's use of tax-exempt organizations for political gain. Mr. Gingrich would go on to become the first speaker in House history to be reprimanded over ethics, with a $300,000 fine. Nearly 200 Republicans voted against him. Resigning three years later, Mr. Gingrich referred to his intraparty foes as "cannibals."
Today, this week, Mr. Gingrich has emerged as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in Iowa. But what voters seem willing to forgive, his own party hasn't forgotten.
E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post told us last night:
I talked to somebody who was quite close to him once. He said when Newt gets power, somebody gives his head a helium injection and he starts attacking people.Another Republican I talked to said, you know, he had a file cabinet in his office. Four files were Newt's ideas. One file was Newt's good ideas.This is from Republicans who actually kind of like Newt, say about him. And I think the problem he has, there are lots of people who love to sit down and chat with him about stuff, and argue with him about stuff. But what they worry about is, does he have a presidential temperament?And they really worry that his tendency to attack other people -- the tendency to attack I think is hurting him in these scandals because when you use such large attack words against other people and then get involved in stuff where you are under the microscope, people are less forgiving toward you than if you'd been a little more restrained in those other attacks. I think those attacks still live with a lot of people in this town.
Below, Ron Paul's two-minute ad attacking Newt Gingrich goes from the interwebs to the actual TV in Iowa today, in one-minute form. Bonus, from Talking Points Memo: Nancy Pelosi vs. Newt Gingrich, rounds one, two and three.