Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gingrich Forgets to Show Up

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is getting killed in the polls. Public opinion polls show him losing one third of his support in the last few days.

What happened? My take on it is that the turning point was the job Gingrich forgot about. He started slipping about the same time word got out that Gingrich had completely forgotten about a job that paid him just over $250,000 a year.

I think it’s fair to say that the average voter can’t relate to this situation. Heck, most workers, if we have a minimum-wage job, will take it seriously enough that we will show up for work on time day after day. Gingrich had a job that paid 15 times that much, and he not only did not take the job seriously, he completely forgot he had it.

Maybe someone appointed Gingrich to a job of substantial responsibilities, and he completely blew it off, but they kept paying him in the hope that he would start working eventually. And that is one of the more favorable interpretations.

It could just as easily be that the job was not really a job at all, but merely a purchase of influence, a transaction with the same purpose and effect as a bribe. Either way, such a situation reflects poorly on a person’s work ethic, no minor consideration when the same person is asking to be put in what is said to be the most important job in the world.

It also clashes with two of Gingrich’s political positions. He has spoken harshly of unemployed workers, teenagers especially, blaming them for their own lack of work. And he has railed against the corruption of Wall Street. In both cases, given the recent news, the natural reaction is, “He is even worse than they are!”

There are only a handful of states more favorable to Gingrich’s cultural outlook than Florida. Today’s primary election in Florida will inevitably be compared to South Carolina. There, Gingrich took 40 percent of the vote, enough to win the state. But that was before people were talking about the job Gingrich forgot he had. Polls are predicting Gingrich’s results in Florida will be around 30 percent. If that comes to pass, it will show that voters took notice.