It took President Bush's reelection campaign five days to decide that it had better distance itself from Newt Gingrich's repellent comments linking Woody Allen to the Democratic Party's platform. Five minutes should have been enough.
Gingrich, the House Republican whip and honorary co-chairman of the Bush campaign in Georgia, suggested last Saturday that Allen's highly publicized relationship with the adopted daughter of a former lover falls right in line with the Democratic platform. "Woody Allen having non-incest with a non-daughter to whom he was a non-father because they were a non-family fits the Democratic platform perfectly," Gingrich said.
What exactly is that supposed to mean? Gingrich's own long-after-the-fact clarification was that the Democrats do not sufficiently recognize the family as a social institution. Oh . In that case, one is left to wonder why the usually articulate Gingrich, as he introduced the President, didn't simply offer his opinion that "the Democrats do not sufficiently recognize the family as a social institution," and let it go at that. While highly arguable, the directness of that claim would at least have left no confusion about the message it meant to convey.
The truth, of course, is that Gingrich overreached himself by trying to tar the Democrats with a non-relevant scandal, and ended up taking a political pratfall. When it became clear that he had gone beyond even the highly elastic bounds of oratorical propriety common in presidential campaigns, and that his calculated negativism was producing its own negative political fallout, the White House acted to dissociate itself from what had been said. "In no way did he speak for the President," said Charles Black, a top adviser to the Bush campaign.