Rep. Jim McDermott has a checkered and colorful history with Newt Gingrich, going back to the days when Gingrich was speaker and McDermott was investigating Gingrich’s actions as the top Democrat on the House ethics committee.
Today on “Top Line” today, McDermott, D-Wash., confidently predicted that Gingrich’s turn atop Republican polls will be short-lived.
“I know Newt very well, and he’s a chameleon,” McDermott told us. “He’ll do whatever’s necessary. He’ll say whatever’s necessary. There is no core to him. I think that’s why he’s rising up.”
“Now we’ve got Newt up here. And it won’t take long for the media to begin to pull him apart,” he added.
McDermott himself wound up receiving a rebuke from the ethics committee years after his investigation of Gingrich, after McDermott leaked a secretly recorded conversation including Gingrich – and future House Speaker John Boehner – to the news media.
McDermott also voiced some optimism that the deficit supercommittee will produce a final set of recommendations – “I think there will be something that comes out of this committee” — but said the members of the committee face long odds in getting something through the full Congress.
“The committee faces a major problem, and that is that the world is watching,” said McDermott, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. “The Republicans – I can’t tell where they are. [Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat] Toomey sounds like a shell game at the county fair, where he puts something forward and then takes it back. … The biggest problem here is nobody has seen anything written down.”
McDermott said there’s a “tremendous upside” to producing a final plan, even if it’s rough, since it will force all members of Congress to examine it closely.
“To walk out on Tuesday and say we didn’t do it, we couldn’t do it, we didn’t find any compromise, is going to be an awful PR disaster for the Congress,” he said. “If they come out with something, there’s a real upside.”
We also chatted with Steve Bell of the Bipartisan Policy Center about the prospects of a deal out of the supercommittee, plus his view that Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan is unworkable.