Is Newt Gingrich About to Be Herman Cained?

Remember when Herman Cain was doing what no one thought he could do? He was beating Mitt Romney nationally, telling us that “9-9-9 means jobs, jobs, jobs,” promising to gut the EPA and repeal Obamacare, all with a southerner’s grin and a gentlemen’s manner. But as he pulled further and further ahead, and people actually wondered if he might upset Romney’s bid, a funny thing happened: there was an orchestrated attack on him based on rumors about a relationship he denied having with a woman nearly 20 years ago.

When that failed to stop him, the attacks were stepped up so as to include comments from less-than-savory characters who claimed to have actually seen Cain sexually harass that woman but who would not, or could not, provide details. So the pile on game began, and rumors of Cain’s harassment of other women began to be floated. Some of those women were even paraded out before TV cameras in hopes of finally getting the American voter to turn on Cain. Who can forget watching Romney’s supporter-and-chief, Karl Rove, declaring Cain “finished” in late October then watching Gloria Allred parade out “a fourth accuser” for a press conference in early November?

Long story short, Cain eventually had to pull out of the race. And my point here isn’t to try and defend Cain, as much as it is to remind everyone of the tactics of the Republican establishment and their willing cohorts in the media who all want to see Romney get the nomination. (The establishment wants him to get the nomination because he’s an establishment guy and the media wants him to get it because they plan to watch Obama beat him in just the way Gov. Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have predicted.)

Enter Newt Gingrich: He’s gaining on Romney not only in South Carolina but also in polls nationally. His Reagan-like statements at the GOP debate are being replayed again and again and praised for their conservative substance. So ABCNews is now debating whether or not to air an interview with his ex-wife, wherein she unloads on him.

For the record, that there is infidelity in Newt’s past and that his divorce was ugly isn’t breaking news: It’s nearly 20 years old, it’s widely known, and it’s recently been discussed on FOX NEWS Sunday and other outlets. What is breaking news is the fact that ABCNews is apparently trying to rejuvenate the story by adding the emotional touch of Newt’s former wife giving every tantalizing detail on camera, and probably some tears to boot.

While this is no more a defense of Newt than my earlier paragraphs were a defense of Cain, the bottom line is that we have to look past the emotion–past ABCNews’ new ethical low in reporting–and understand that Newt’s real crime is in daring to beat Mitt Romney in South Carolina.