Newt Gingrich Calls Obama a Con Man

Gingrich clearly enjoys the speculation about whether he will enter the presidential sweepstakes - which is part of the reason he encourages it just about every cycle. (It also doesn't hurt his public profile and speaking fees.) The former House speaker and elder statesman in the party seems more serious this time around, however. One stumbling block might be his personal life -- he's been married three times -- which could alienate social conservatives. Newt Gingrich Continues to Discuss 2012 Run More Coverage on Newt Gingrich Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski

An April 2010 file photo of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
AP Photo/Bill Haber
Commentary by Dan Farber, Editor in Chief of CBSNews.com:

President Obama came into office with a promise to change how Washington works. It hasn't worked out well so far, and many supporters of the president who helped to catapult him into office are frustrated, at least according to various polls.

During a nationally televised press conference on Friday, Mr. Obama was asked if he had changed Washington.

He responded first with some of his administration's accomplishments, but then blamed the lack of a more cooperative spirit in Washington on the dire economic situation he inherited and the Republicans.

"Now, if you're asking why haven't I been able to create a greater spirit of cooperation in Washington, I think that's fair. I'm as frustrated as anybody by it. I think part of it has to do with the fact that when we came into office, we came in under very tough economic circumstances, and I think that some of the Republican leaders made a decision: We're going to sit on the sidelines and let the Democrats try to solve it. And so we got a lot of resistance very early."

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who may have presidential aspirations, is apparently really frustrated with the president. The respected politician has taken criticism to a new level of insult, describing Mr. Obama as a "con" man who is "authentically dishonest."

Speaking to the National Review Online, Gingrich said, "This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president."

"I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true. In the Alinksy [Ed. note: Saul Alinksy, an American community organizer] tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest," he continued.

On Fox News Sunday, the former Speaker criticized the president's economic policy by merely saying, "The thing that the president doesn't understand and the thing that Keynesian economics get wrong is real simple: Do you want people to have enough money to invest to create jobs? If they have a surplus of income so they can create jobs, that's somehow bad and the president wants to take away the income. That means he's leaving them with no money to create jobs."

Gingrich's more inflammatory comments on Mr. Obama's character were in response to a similarly inflammatory article by Dinesh D'Souza published in Forbes, contending that the president channels the "anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr." and "is trapped in his father's time machine."

D'Souza concluded, "Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son."

D'Souza can make his argument that Mr. Obama is an anticolonialist trapped in his father's time machine, and people can debate it. But claiming that Mr. Obama scammed or conned his way into office or is conducting the affairs of state under false pretenses rather than with some unfulfilled promises is a stretch — even for the Obama skeptics and his potential competitors.

  • Dan Farber On Twitter»

    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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