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    Debunking The Myth of Newt’s “Historian” Comment

    Debunking The Myth of Newt’s “Historian” Comment

    Note:  This is the first Guest Post by Bryan Jacoutot, a law student at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, GA.:

    Although the November 9th Republican Presidential Debate in Michigan is now over a month passed, one critical line said by Newt Gingrich is still at the forefront of the minds of many.

    During the debate, a question was posed to Gingrich regarding his 2006 relationship with the mortgage lending giant, Freddie Mac. Debate moderator Ewen MacAskill asked about the $300,000 his company, the Gingrich Group, was paid that year by Freddie Mac. Gingrich responded (italics added):

    “I have never done any lobbying, every contract that was written during the period when I was out of the office specifically said I would do no lobbying, and I offered advice. And my advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, we are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do, is I said — I said to them at the time: This is a bubble. This insane. This is impossible.”

    Since that exchange, critics from all sides have attempted to morph what Gingrich said at the debate into a statement that Gingrich was hired to be a historian, as opposed to bringing his knowledge as a historian to bear on his consulting.

    Such claims have uniformly twisted exactly what was said by Gingrich in the debate, giving rise to a kind of urban legend, that Gingrich said he was paid by Freddie Mac to be a historian.

    The Washington Post recently came out with an article saying that Gingrich was being disingenuous and misleading in his remarks. Additionally, many of the republican candidates have cried foul play.

    Perhaps most notably, Governor Romney recently claimed in an interview that if Gingrich was indeed acting as a historian, then he is the “highest paid historian in history.”

    Romney and the others know better.  But perhaps that is too much nuance to expect at this point.

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    L.N. Smithee | December 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    OK, fine. He was paid for his “advice.” Would he like to specify which advice Freddie took to heart and implemented? How did that turn out? Did that advice mitigate the collapse of the real estate bubble, or aggravate it?

    Look, I ain’t saying he’s a criminal who deserves to be jailed a la Fannie/Freddie Fool$ like Franklin Raines and Mistress of Distress Jamie Gorelick, but if he’s one of the 98.99% of Beltway people who didn’t see the crash coming, he should explain how he missed it and what he’s learned.

    OK, but that’s still what Newt said and to the best of my knowledge, that’s all he has said.

    To be honest, I don’t believe he told them it was a bubble, insane, etc. Why? Because at the time he was on the Freddie payroll, you would have needed a chrystal ball to foresee the bubble. He might have said it was a bad idea to extend easy credit but that’s another matter.

    Of course, there is a simple way for Newt to enlighten us further about what “advice” he offered for $30,000 an hour. He can ask Freddie to release any and all memos and other documents pertaining to his work.

      JEBurke sez, in part . . .

      “Of course, there is a simple way for Newt to enlighten us further about what ‘advice’ he offered for $30,000 an hour. He can ask Freddie to release any and all memos and other documents pertaining to his work.”

      Precisely. My guess would be that he will not take that course of action, however.

      And, I have no doubt that he has secure copies of all of that correspondence in his personal records as well. But, I would also assume that he had some form of confidentiality agreement with them that would prevent him from releasing any of that correspondence without their express consent.

      If, however — contrary to what he now says — he did not warn them that there was going to be a bubble, what chance is there that the memos will not ALL somehow end up in the hands of the press after he secures the nomination?

    Ok, you are insufficiently nuanced. He was hired for his advice. He was NOT hired as a historian. When offering his advice, he qualified the advice by pointing out that he was/is a historian.

    The lefty comfortable analogy is when a woman, asked for her opinion on blue widgets, prefaces her answer with “As a woman….” You may or may not have hired her for her credentials “as a woman”, but you didn’t (probably) hire her to “be a woman”.

    I am not a great fan of Newtie, and have no idea whether or not he offered the advice he claimed. I also have no idea whether he was hired for his “advice”; his connections or as a “historian”. The object of this article was to point out that he said he was not a lobbyist and was hired for advice. The accusations that he was offered some Michelle Obama like sinecure is not supported either by his statements or any other evidence so far entered.

    Lots of fair things to criticize about Newt, don’t lose your credibility over making him say things he didn’t.


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