Washington Prowler

Patriotic Gore

That's amore, Newt style. Plus: Manning up at Foggy Bottom.

By 3.14.11

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THAT'S AMORE, NEWT STYLE
Former Speaker of the House and possible 2012 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich got a taste of what he is in for should he run when he was recently asked about his cheating on his first two wives with other women. And his answer, as well as the lackluster launch of his "testing the waters," has people wondering about his desire to really run.

In response to his Clintonian behavior (though Democrats note Clinton never filed for divorce, let alone twice), his ego-driven comments rivaled those of his former Democratic foil: "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate," he told a reporter.

"In other words, patriotism made him do it," laughs a former Republican House member who served with Gingrich. "That's the Newt we know and love. The man is almost singularly focused on himself and his appetites."

Sources familiar with Gingrich's thinking say he remains somewhat ambivalent about a full presidential run, worrying about the impact a poor or mediocre showing in the primaries would have on his health care and policy consulting businesses, as well several of his other business operations, including a media company he operates with this most recent wife, Callista.

"He has serious people around him who believe he will run, and he has people out in the blogging and new media world who are constantly touting his smallest move," says a political consultant for a rival GOP presidential campaign. "But given the way he's rolled out his prospective candidacy you have to wonder how serious he really is."

MANNING UP
The resignation of State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley over critical comments he made last week regarding what he considered to be "stupid" treatment of the Army soldier accused of leaking tens of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, is only the most visible sign of an Obama Administration national security team cracking under the pressure of a chaotic world scene.

"The White House has no idea what the hell they're doing with Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, global economics and trade," says a career State Department official. "They are over their heads, and we're under an incredible amount of pressure to react. If foreign leaders were critical of the Bush Administration, they are probably looking back at those times wistfully, because they're not getting much action out of this crew."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, compared to past point people at State, has been conspicuous in her low profile at a time when the spotlight should be heavily on her. The highest profile foreign policy event last week for the U.S. was Vice President Joe Biden's embarrassing performance in fumbling the names of Russian dignitaries during a public appearance.

"Crowley was already being pushed out the door," says the State Department source. "But the timing was unfortunate. I mean, even the President seemed to be questioning the military's treatment of the Wikileak guy."

When asked at last Friday's press conference about the soldier's treatment, Obama seemed to hedge on endorsing the military's treatment of isolating the soldier in a way that would indicate he's being treated more like a national security risk than a routine data thief.

State Department sources say that Clinton in particular misses the hand and input of the late Pakistan-Afghan special envoy Richard Holbrooke, who was far more influential inside Clinton's circle of advisers than anyone wants to admit. "He was almost a shadow Secretary of State, who was engaged in a lot more than just the Afghan-Pakistan situation," says the State Department source. "He had a huge ego and could be difficult to work with, but he was up to the task and some of the Obama people simply aren't."

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