Incensed by the negative ads that have spoiled his campaign, Newt Gingrich recently complained he’d been “Romneyboated,” an allusion to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose ads helped derail Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004.
John O’Neill, the swift-boat captain who led the anti-Kerry movement, is none too pleased with the comparison. “To me, it reflects Gingrich’s very cynical hypocrisy, which he shares with Kerry,” O’Neill tells National Review Online. That hypocrisy “is the reason why he can appear with [Nancy] Pelosi in climate-change ads and why he can take money from Freddie Mac: If you’re part of the political class, [you believe] you’re free from any public scrutiny of what you’ve done.”
O’Neill has been disappointed with Gingrich “ever since the debacle in the late 1990s, when he came close to squandering a Republican majority in the House and engaged personally in conduct that really hurt the Republican party.” The ex-speaker’s recent behavior hasn’t been much better. “I was shocked by his labeling [Paul] Ryan’s plan ‘right-wing social engineering,’” O’Neill says. “It’s deeply cynical conduct and hypocrisy. He has much more in common with Kerry than with any of the other Republican candidates — maybe not in ideology, but in other things that count.”
Indeed, O’Neill sees many similarities between the old pols. “Kerry is an extremely cynical guy whose policies change like a kaleidoscope, and Newt Gingrich is just the same. He’s a constantly changing kaleidoscope with one policy idea after another.” To Republicans, O’Neill advises, “You select a president based on the entire person, because the truth is, the policy issues are very likely to be different in a year than they seem to be right now.”
O’Neill concludes, “I would be really proud to win or lose with any of the other Republican candidates. But I would be ashamed if Gingrich were the candidate.”