Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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"GINGRICH CRUSH!"

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Newt Gingrich hates bureaucracies. He loathes them, really—wants to watch 'em burn and see them replaced with a "conservative opportunity society" in which the government gets out of the way to allow private businesses to (for example) extract minerals from the moon. But there's one European bureaucracy Gingrich believes the United States could learn from: The German military, which the Georgia firebrand used as a model for how to manage the House Republican caucus. As Vanity Fair reported in 1994:

Gingrich's pal Stephen Hanser says that part of Newt's strategy in the House is based on combat theory, namely the German armed-forces doctrine of Auftragstaktik, or "mission orders." The problem is that in the heat of battle subtleties are lost. Standards fall. Atrocities are forgiven. Especially if the action is rapid-fire.

Connie Bruck offered some more context in the New Yorker:

Since his earliest years in Congress (he was first elected in 1978) he has lived by what he calls a "planning model"—which entails vision, strategies, projects, tactics. It is adapted from the German military model, having been introduced to Gingrich in the mid-seventies by his close friend and advisor Steven Hanser, who was a fellow history professor at West Georgia College and is a specialist on the Wehrmacht (the German armed forces).

Gingrich's love for the German language wasn't just a passing phase. In blurbing Rep. Steve Israel's 2007 collection of military speeches, Charge!, Gingrich wrote: "Steve Israel possesses that rare quality that the nineteenth-century German Army called 'fingerspitzengefuhl," which he defined as "a fingertip sense for the art of war."

A little more than two years ago to the day, while locked in a tight race with Republican Scott Brown for the vacant Massachusetts Senate seat, Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, offered up the quote that no number of foreclosure fraud lawsuits will be able to wipe from her obituary. Asked about her hands-off campaign style, she pushed back: "As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?"

On Saturday, Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat who's challenging Brown in November, tweeted this photo:

Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D) shaking hands at Fenway Park.: @ElizabethforMAMassachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren shaking hands at Fenway Park. @ElizabethforMAThat's Elizabeth Warren shaking hands in the cold, at Fenway Park, during a college hockey doubleheader. (Here she is standing outside Fenway, for you sticklers.)

As for Warren's campaign, the most recent survey of the race, from the Boston Herald, gave her a seven-point lead over the incumbent. And Brown appears to be feeling the heat. Last Monday, after Obama announced he'd appointed former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to chair the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—crafted by Warren—Brown broke with his party to endorse the move: "I support President Obama's appointment today of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. I believe he is the right person to lead the agency and help protect consumers from fraud and scams."

At Sunday morning's GOP presidential debate (not to be confused with Saturday night's GOP presidential debate!), front-runner Mitt Romney began his opening answer on his record in Massachusetts by noting proudly that he had created more jobs as governor than President Obama has created as president. It's a line he uses regularly on the campaign trail, and couples nicely with his (unsubstantiated) claim to have created 100,000 jobs while at Bain Capital in the 1990s.

But it's not really accurate. Per Factcheck.org, Massachusetts created a net total of 45,800 private sector jobs during Romney's four years as governor. Romney's not really making a fair comparison—Obama still has another year left in his first term and the trend lines are pointing in the right direction—but he's also blaming Obama for jobs losses that occurred before any of his economic proposals had been enacted. During Obama's first few months in office, the economy continued to hemorrhage jobs, due to a recession that had begun during the Bush administration. Since the end of the recession in June of 2009, the economy has added 1.4 private-sector million jobs. It's not a great record, there have been some ups and downs, but as former candidate Herman Cain might say, that's an apple! We're talking about oranges here.

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