Sure, Blame the Woman

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 10 2011 8:29 AM

Sure, Blame the Woman

Newt Gingrich's fleeing staffers decide it's not classy enough to quit en masse and destroy their boss's campaign, so they go the extra mile and find a scapegoat .

The euphemism offered by departing staffers was they disagreed with Gingrich’s "strategy" for the campaign. Indeed, they did disagree. But it was a strategy – a part-time campaign, in effect – that Gingrich’s wife favored... his wife wanted him to go [on a cruise] and she won the argument... his wife wanted him to pursue the presidency at less strenuous clip.

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If I want to hire one of the 16-plus people quitting the Newt campaign, the anonymity's annoying -- I really want to know which guys, when faced with a problem, portray the candidate as the whipped plaything of a shrew. Come on, this spin isn't even new. It's what we were supposed to believe about the somnolent collapse of Fred Thompson's campaign. Jeri Thompson was brilliant, until her husband sleepwalked through his campaign, at which point Jeri became the problem. It's an amazing coincidence.

I don't buy the idea that Gingrich was struggling with donors because his wife wanted him to take it easy in the past two weeks. Why not? Because as Jon Ward reported, Gingrich started losing donors and bundlers right after his disastrous Meet the Press interview. Yes, my understanding from talking to Gingrichland is that no one was happy about the cruise. Why blame the decision on Callista Gingrich, spin that implies that your candidate is a lovesick, irrational beta male? Why keep it a secret until Ben Smith finds it in a message board? Was that Callista's fault, too?

Come on, failed strategists. This story was fresh when Eve was at the tree of knowledge, but it's getting kind of stale.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.