The Village phone tree lights up for Newtie

The Village Phone Tree Lights Up

by digby

I have to admit that I'm really enjoying watching the wingnuts froth and fulminate over the media salivating over the private lives of their candidates. You would never go wrong by betting on GOP hypocrisy. Heather at C&L caught a doozy, from none other than the puritan heartthrob, Cal Thomas.

But nothing beats the Village Quilting Bee and Ladies Backbiting Society weighing in on the subject on Reliable Sources:

You can read the whole transcript here. But here's a little taste:

KURTZ: Sally Quinn, so, Mitch Daniels' wife, Cheri, she leaves, she marries another guy, she comes back. She marries her husband.

How or why is that a front page story?

SALLY QUINN, "ON FAITH": Well, you know, that's going to play really well one way or the other with the Evangelicals. This is a whole issue that I think people haven't figured out.

KURTZ: But should it be an issue?

QUINN: With these people it is an issue. You know, Hillary Clinton once said, you know, I had hoped that there would be a certain zone of privacy when I got to the White House.

KURTZ: Yes. What happened to that?

QUINN: Forget it. There is no such thing as a zone of privacy.

And with Mitch Daniels and his wife, people are going to look at them and they're going to say what a great dad he was. He was there for three or four years.

KURTZ: Bringing up the kids on his own, yes.

QUINN: Bringing up the kids on his own, this is great. Or they're going to look at her and say what kind of a woman would abandon her children for four years?

So the family values issues is going to play. It's going to be a big deal in this election if he decides to run.

Right. And Quinn and the other Village gossips are just innocent bystanders in that little scenario.

KURTZ: Now, I confess, Michelle Cottle, when I heard about this from a reporter two days before The Times story, I ordered up a story for "The Daily Beast" for two reasons. I thought it was fascinating, and I said Cheri Daniels holds the key to whether or not her husband runs for president. But at the same time, I'm a little uncomfortable with all the attention it's getting.

What's your take?

MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "NEWSWEEK": I think no matter how much we like to say, oh, it doesn't matter about the family, it's the candidate, especially when you're electing a president, people are picking somebody. You know, the joke is that they're a boyfriend. You're not picking a president, you're picking a husband or a boyfriend or a father to run the country.

And people want a glimpse. You know, talking to Republican consultants this week, you know, you hear constantly that they want a glimpse into the candidate's personal life, what he is like, values. And they look to the wives for that.

Oh good god. I guess this is the female equivalent of picking the guy you want to have a beer with.

No, you are not picking a husband or a boyfriend or a father to run the country. You're picking a politician. Period. I apologize on behalf of all women for that idiotic statement.

KURTZ: And today's "New York Times" has a piece about all of this, and says "Voters are hungry for details." Come on. Is it voters who are hungry, or is it journalists who are looking for a juicy storyline?

COTTLE: Journalists don't make up kind of what people read. We follow the stuff really --

KURTZ: We make decisions about what to put on the front page and what to put on the cover of your magazine and my magazine.

COTTLE: Yes. But we pay very close attention to what people are interested in and what catches their attention. I mean, this is a business on some level, and we know what they like to read.

KURTZ: Debra Saunders, in this case of Mitch Daniels, there is no scandal here. They split up, they got back together. Is this the kind of journalistic intrusiveness that drives people out of politics?

DEBRA SAUNDERS, "SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE": Well, I don't know. I sort of wonder if we in the media are being played. I mean, I don't have any inside information on this, but Mitch Daniels' candidacy, if he runs for president, is based on the fact that he's the guy who can win, he's the heavyweight. And so, you know, the Ron Pauls, the Rick Santorums, the Haley Barbours, they can't win. Mitch Daniels has this inevitability.

But he can't say hey, I'm not sure. He looks like Hamlet.

So what do the Daniels people say? They say, well, we are waiting to hear what Cheri wants to do. And, of course, that puts a lot of attention on her.

Now, we know that there is a story about how she left him and married somebody else for a couple of years. And I think this humanizes her, it makes her look less political. So I don't know that this is a strategy, but I should hope it's a strategy, because it's a really good one. And I think we in the media in a way are sort of being led by a leash.

KURTZ: It hasn't occurred to me that this might be a grand play by the Daniels' forces.

Yeah. I don't think it's occurred to Daniels either. But hope lives on in the conservative heart and Saunders doesn't have much to cling to with this Republican field.

The panel of Quinn, Michelle Cottle and Deb Saunders went on for some time dishing about the Schwarzennegers and Newt Gingrich as well, explaining all along that as distasteful as they find all this, well, it's just so ... juicy. How can we help ourselves? The people demand to know!

I was getting that really queasy feeloing I always get when they pull together a group of women like this to explain why it's so important to gossip about politicians' sex lives and was even feeling a little bit sorry for the Republicans in their crosshairs in this coming campaign. But then came this:

KURTZ: After Gingrich announces his candidacy on Twitter, actually, he gave his first interview to Fox, Sean Hannity. And this question about his personal life came up in a very, shall we say, indirect way.

Let's roll it.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: But already, the media, you know, they are going after you. They're going after your personal life. You have been divorced, all these things that they keep bringing up.
NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, if you are a conservative, you have to start with the assumption that you are not going to get an even break from the elite media. And that's just reality.

Ok, fuggedaboudit. If there was ever a swine who deserved the full "Quinning" he's about to get it's this sanctimonious creep. And judging from that Reliable Sources conversation, no matter how much he tries to insist that he never judged President Clinton for his immoral behavior, he's going to get it hard.

As Greg Sargent noted a couple of months ago:

[I]n an article for Human Events in 1998 (via Nexis), Gingrich made the high-minded claim that impeachment was all about law and the Constitution, but then he added:

“Around the world today, the institution of the presidency has been degraded to the point that it is viewed as the rough equivalent of the Jerry Springer show -- a level of disrespect and decadence that should appall every American.”

What’s more, during the 1998 midterm elections, Gingrich was intimately involved in the creation of a GOP ad campaign that made this claim about Clinton: “What did you tell your kids? ... It’s wrong. For seven months he lied to us.”

Have at it, Village gossips. Don't hold back. Nobody deserves this karmic blowback more than he does.

As for Daniels? I don't choose presidents to be "my boyfriend" or "my daddy" and I already have a husband so I don't care about his marriage and I don't think it says anything about his ability to be president. It's his association with Bush' economic policies that creeps me out.