In 1952, desperate to get on Eisenhower’s VP short list, and trying to defend against allegations of improprieties concerning the use of political funds, Richard Nixon made his now-historic “Checkers Speech.” In an attempt to connect with regular Americans, Nixon painted a picture of a modest life that he shared with his family, and in particular, highlighted the fact that his wife Pat didn’t own a mink coat, but instead wore a respectable Republican cloth coat. The ploy worked, and support for Nixon as Ike’s running mate surged. Nixon, ever the “operator,” had a sense of what would resonate with struggling families, and sowed the seeds of resentment towards what he considered the elitism of that period and beyond.
Newt Gingrich, a purported history scholar, is well familiar with Nixon’s rise, but only time will tell if he sees any lesson in it. Gingrich’s fabled “revolving account” at Tiffany’s raised a few eyebrows earlier this year, but not as much as his lame attempts to dodge related questions about his $250,000 to $500,000 debt to the jeweler.
If Gingrich somehow becomes the GOP nominee (not impossible), I’m sure that someone will make an issue of Callista’s diamonds and how ostentatious and out of place they seem at a time when so many are unemployed and are losing hope. I doubt that Newt will be able to respond by claiming that his wife wears "a respectable Republican cloth coat.”
Gingrich has reportedly closed his Tiffany's account and settled his outstanding debt. But as they say, diamonds are forever.