Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When I Met Newt Gingrich

Did you catch the Newt Gingrich interview on Meet The Press a couple of days ago?  There is some lingering controversy about whether moderator David Gregory 'set him up' and unfairly ambushed Gingrich with questions concerning his views on healthcare reform.  If you like, you can watch the clip below of David Gregory addressing this issue on MSNBC this morning. The clip starts with a citizen in Iowa coming up to Gingrich yesterday and angrily confronting him, asserting that he'd 'undercut Paul Ryan.'  This confrontation reminded me of the time I met Newt Gingrich myself.

It was in 1999, after he had resigned his Speakership and House seat following the 1998 mid-term elections, which had gone poorly for Republicans. A buddy of mine and I walked into an English-style pub near Stanford University in Palo Alto, California one random weekday night and, to our amazement, there sat Newt Gingrich at the end of the bar, having a quiet beer.  The place was pretty much empty.  Just Newt Gringrich (accompanied by what looked like a young Secret Service agent to me, who was not drinking), my buddy and I, and a college-age guy and his girlfriend (who were vaguely hippie-looking).  I ordered a beer and tried to work up the courage to walk 10 feet down the bar and say hello to Gingrich myself.  But after I'd had just a couple of sips of my beer, Newt got up to leave.

As he walked toward the door (passing right next to me), the hippie-looking guy said something profane and  insulting to Newt (which I wont repeat here), in a childish manner that seemed intended to impress his girlfriend.  But unlike in this clip, where Newt politely walks away, that night a decade ago, Newt leaned back toward the hippie guy and said clearly and calmly to him, "F--k off."  

I still enjoy the vivid memory of how the look on  that hippie guy's face transformed so instantly from one of righteous, hands-on-hips indignation to stunned, open-mouthed amazement.

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