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In endorsing Newt Gingrich for president, the New Hampshire Union-Leader said editorially that he “was a man who stood on principle.”

Newt?

Principles?

Former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards said Gingrich’s only real principles were the pursuit of power. Jack Abramoff, the convicted influence peddler, told NBC’s David Gregory that Gingrich is “engaged in the exact kind of corruption that America disdains.”

Gingrich was the first speaker to be brought before the full House of Representatives on ethics charges; he faced 84 ethics violations, including tax cheating and converting campaign funds to personal use. He was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee and fined $300,000.

House special counsel James M. Cole concluded that Gingrich had violated tax law and lied to the investigating panel; Gingrich acknowledged making “inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable statements.”

Despite that, Gingrich told a Charleston radio audience recently: “I wouldn’t lie to the American people,” and “I wouldn’t switch my positions for political reasons.”

Really? Gingrich enthusiastically endorsed Bush’s unfunded Medicare prescription drug plan in the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 20, 2003) but now claims otherwise; he strongly supported the health care individual mandate in a 2007 op-ed, then denied he had ever supported it; he was for the war in Libya before he was against it; he argued for “Zero Tolerance for Amnesty” in an American Enterprise Institute paper in 2006 but now favors a partial amnesty.

He strongly favored cap-and-trade during a February 2007 PBS interview but now denies he ever supported it. He famously appeared in a commercial with Nancy Pelosi urging action on climate change but now doubts anthropogenic global warming.

He criticized Paul Ryan’s budget plan as “right-wing social engineering” but then recanted that statement so vehemently that he asserted any ad quoting him was a “falsehood.”

Extreme partisanship and wild hyperbole are Newt’s trademarks. As speaker, he urged House Republicans to use words like “corrupt,” “illegitimate” or “criminal” when referring to the Clinton administration, and once called Bill Clinton “the enemy of normal Americans.”

In his 2011 book, “To Save America,” he wrote that the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress represent “as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.”

According to Esquire, he blamed Democrats for the infamous Susan Smith drowning her children in South Carolina and for Woody Allen’s affair with Soon-Yi. He blamed liberals for the Columbine shootings, and LBJ’s Great Society programs for the stabbing of a pregnant woman in Chicago by another woman to remove the fetus.

In 1994, Gingrich proposed that states end aid to poor single mothers and that their children be sent to orphanages with the money saved, something he had seen in the movie “Boys Town.”

Lately he has manufactured the claim that people use food stamp money to travel to Hawaii, and argues that “stupid” child labor laws should be rolled back so that children could work as school janitors.

As Paul Krugman said, “Newt Gingrich is what stupid people think a smart person talks like.”

From ethically challenged politician, Gingrich transformed himself into a professional influence peddler. His Center for Health Transformation collected $55 million from health care corporations over the last decade in exchange for “access to Newt Gingrich” and “direct Newt interaction.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that he received $840,000 from the Chamber of Commerce in exchange for attending dinners and lunches every few months. GE, IBM, and Microsoft are among the companies signed up for “access to Newt.”

He took hundreds of thousands of dollars from coal and oil companies to fight energy regulations, according to Esquire, and $312,000 to promote ethanol.

Gingrich touted Freddie Mac’s business model in an April 2007 interview but now claims he warned Freddie Mac of the impending crisis, for which he blames Barney Frank. He said Frank should be put in prison for his ties to Freddie Mac, although Gingrich was simultaneously collecting $1.6 million from Freddie for advice as a “historian.”

Besides his serial hypocrisy and flip-flopping, there is Gingrich, the serial adulterer; he had extramarital affairs with his eventual second and third wives (and others) while still married to their predecessors, but nonetheless led the investigation into Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair.

He defended his philandering by invoking patriotism, saying he worked too hard because he loves this country so much. Huh!?

Bill Clinton attributed Gingrich’s rise to “a political environment in the Republican primary that basically means you can’t be authentic unless you’ve got a single-digit I.Q.”

Gingrich’s hope is that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man will be king.

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