Congresswoman and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) recently told Talking Points Memo that she has "dirt" about GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and will reveal it "when the time is right." During primary season, the right time is usually February, but the tradition of releasing "dirt at the right time" is likely to cause olfactory fatigue among voters -- the inability to tell whether something smells bad or not. Even if genuine problems with Gingrich's qualifications emerge, independent voters, who decide most elections, may no longer care which negative claims are made.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) experienced the "dirt at the right time" phenomenon in February 2008, when he was widely accused of having an affair with lobbyist Vicky Iseman. Iseman sued the New York Times for reporting that she'd had a sexual affair with McCain. She settled with the Times one year later for no money, but a retraction of the article's claims. As this story didn't work, attention turned to McCain's running mate, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the firestorm again ignited.
Following the February early primary election "dirt revelation" schedule, Pelosi is about three months ahead of the game: The public can expect these revelations about the third week in February 2012. A separate dirt schedule occurs in late September/early October prior to presidential elections. In September 2004, this schedule resulted in the George W. Bush "Rathergate" Texas Air National Guard memos. George W. Bush was also recipient of two October 2000 broadsides: In the first, on CNN's Crossfire show, Hustler's Larry Flynt accused Bush of forcing a Texas woman he was involved with to have an illegal abortion in the early 1970s (pre-Roe v. Wade), and media revealed early DUI convictions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
Gennifer Flowers was slightly ahead of schedule in late January, 1992, when she revealed that she and Presidential candidate Bill Clinton had a 12-year affair while he was Governor of Arkansas. This story was confirmed true years later, but the candidate received a major assist from his wife on 60 Minutes on Super Bowl Sunday following Flowers' statements, and millions believed Mrs. Clinton. President Obama was not immune, either -- the National Enquirer reported a cheating scandal in October, 2008.
Former Speaker Gingrich's oral sex adventures while cheating on one of his three wives famously appeared in Rolling Stone, and the venerable publication has continued its commitment to reporting all bad news-Newt. The candidate has been the Gingrinch Who Stole Christmas since 1995, and has already been mud-slathered and ousted as House Speaker. No matter what Speaker Pelosi says, people will make up their own minds. They may dislike the smell, or they may be absolutely immune to it, which is the risk run by all purveyors of smelly dirt.
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