Back in the 60s one of my very favorite sitcoms was an absurd contrast to the white bread perfect middle-class American family called the Addams family.
Whenever Morticia was cooking up a magic potion, she always added one very meaningful ingredient called Eye of Newt.
Just recently Eye of Newt has become a very important ingredient in American politics. And in this case the eye of Newt is twitching uncontrollably.
Only a few days after announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination for presiden,t former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich described the spending plan of Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican wunderkind from Wisconsin, in rather unflattering terms.
Appearing on Meet the Press, Gingrich described the house budget committee chairman's spending program as, and I quote," a radical step toward right wing social engineering."
Of course a firestorm erupted shortly after this in which various conservative luminaries such as Bill Bennett, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly expressed doubts regarding Gingrich's ability to engage his brain before putting his mouth in gear.
In a world in which every gaffe is caught on tape and in which Joe Biden has purchased a lifetime membership in the gaffe of the week club, Republicans could be urged to exercise some restraint in their criticism of the former Georgia congressman's very lonely trip off the reservation of central Republican party philosophy.
What made it so difficult for Gingrich is the fact that Congressman Ryan is considered to be the dynamic young face that much of the Republican Party is pinning its hopes on in years to come. Ryan projects a sense of confident courage and faith in the belief system that tells us government must shrink before it overwhelms all of us in red ink and socialistic management of our lives.
Ronald Reagan used to say that the 11th commandment was" thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican."
One would think that Gingrich would have been able to weather this storm because we are early in a campaign in which the news cycle switches over to the next big story in just a few days.
Unfortunately for Professor Gingrich, he made things worse by following his Meet the Press appearance with a statement on Fox News where he told the world that his criticism of the Ryan plan is " inaccurate and unfortunate." And then he really stepped in it. He told the Democratic Party that they better not run any ads quoting his Meet the Press statements.
What do you think happened the very next day?
The Democratic National Committee, fast on its feet, ran commercials all over the country replaying the video of Newt's attack of the Ryan program.
The Republicans are, generally speaking, forgiving of those who make mistakes and learn from them.
In this case, Newt Gingrich handed the Democratic Party a loaded gun and then with his challenge regarding the ads, practically invited the Democrats to fire that gun point blank, aimed at the centerpiece of the Republican platform.
In more recent television appearances, Newt Gingrich has eyes twitching almost uncontrollably with distress because he managed to sabotage the lift-off of his own candidacy.
Eye of Newt is an ingredient Republicans are likely to see very little of going forward for the Republican convention.
This candidacy is over.