You’re a smart guy, Newt, so just answer the question

Still licking his wounds after Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich gets a second helping from On the Record. Photo: Associated Press

SAN DIEGO,  May 18, 2011 — As if Newt Gingrich wasn’t in enough trouble already from his comments on  Meet the Press, another little bomb threatens to wipe out the former Speaker of the House’s campaign before his ships can even get out of Pearl Harbor.

Act One of the two-part drama took place on Sunday morning. When asked by NBC host, David Gregory about Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposed changes to health care, Newt said, “ I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.” (Meet The Press, May 1`5, 2011)

In this image released Sunday, May 15, 2011, by NBC News former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is interviewed on NBC's Meet the Press in Washington Sunday.  (Photo: Associated Press)

In this image released Sunday, May 15, 2011, by NBC News former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in Washington Sunday. (Photo: Associated Press)

Since then, poor Newt has been blasted by everyone from Bill Bennett to Rush Limbaugh. Although Gingrich deserves credit for trying desperately to put that horse back in his corral, Flicka seems to have long since galloped off into the horizon.

As others debate whether or not Newt’s creative clarifications and amorphous backpedaling constitute a true apology or another tired attempt on the part of a politician to pretend that he didn’t really say what he actually said, I am forced to focus on an additional blunder taking place with Greta Van Susteren. Ironically, Newt’s second shot in the foot happened while he was on a roll pulling out his first bullet and explaining to Greta how he and Paul Ryan are now cool.

Before Mr. Gingrich could breathe a sigh of relief, Greta quickly took advantage of her interview to bring up another controversy, namely a tab Newt was running at Tiffany and Co’s to the tune of  $250,000.00 to $500,000.00. Greta asked if he could explain the bill and if it had been paid.

Newt said, “My answer to you is, I’m not commenting on stuff like that…I’m perfectly happy to talk about what we need to do for America and what we need to do to help Americans. But I frankly don’t want to play the gotcha games in Washington and I’m just not going to participate.” (On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, May 17, 2011)

Is Gingrich correct to point out that a bill at Tiffany’s looks like low level stuff compared to the state of affairs in America today? Of course! So why not quickly dispose of “stuff like that” by simply answering Greta?

Contrary to popular leftist opinion, most conservatives (this writer included) thought the whole Obama birth certificate issue was a silly waste of time. Still, a fair question remained: “Mr. President, if it’s all a lot of nonsense, why not just produce your birth certificate and get back to the more important issues you care about?”

Obama finally did offer his official certificate (albeit several years late) and the issue has all but vanished from any major news media discussion.

OK then, my fellow conservatives: Time to check our consistency radars. What was true of Obama applies to Gingrich as well.  Assuming for a moment that the Gingrich campaign can recover, we share Newt’s passion for major problem solving and his distaste for unimportant distractions. If you’d rather play bigger games, Newt, your course is clear: Answer the Trivial Pursuit question and we’ll be more than happy to set up Monopoly or Risk in its place. Otherwise, Newt, conspicuous question dodging will give life to the very issues you wish would die. Unfortunately, once a mountain is made out of a molehill, we really do have a mountain. At the expense of sounding partronizing, your half a week old, dead in the water, campaign does not need another mountain right now.

Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at Comments to posts are discussed by Bob over the air where anyone is free to call in and respond/debate. Call in toll free number: 1-888-344-1170. Read more Forbidden Table Talk in The Washington Times Communities.

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Bob Siegel

A graduate of Denver Seminary and San Jose State University, Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and popular guest speaker at churches and college campuses across the country, using a variety of media including, seminars, formal debates, outdoor open forums, and one man drama presentations.

In addition to his own weekly radio show (KCBQ 1170, San Diego) Bob has been a guest on many other programs, including The 700 Club, Washington Times Radio's Inside the Story, The Rick Amato Show, KUSI Television's Good Morning San Diego, and the world popular Jonathan Park radio drama series, for which Bob guest starred in two episodes and wrote one episode, The Clue From Ninevah.

Bob is a regular contributor for San Diego Newsroom and San Diego Rostra. Bob does a good deal of playwriting as well (14 plays & 5 collaborations), including the award winning, Eternal Reach.  Bob has also published two books;  A Call To Radical Discipleship, and I'd Like to Believe In Jesus, But...

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