Leave poor children alone, Newt!

Gingrich’s big idea was that kids from poor neighborhoods should work janitorial jobs at school in order to learn a work ethic. His argument was that poor kids who live in housing projects don’t see people working and therefore “literally have no habit of showing up on Monday.” Instead, they gravitate toward, you know, pimping and prostitution.

So much for the big tent. So much for diversity. Sayonara, African American vote. Hasta la vista, Paco y Maria. In one flick of the tongue, Gingrich managed to alienate all those undocumented workers he winked at a couple of weeks ago when he telegraphed during a debate that 11 million illegal immigrants would not be deported during a Gingrich presidency.

The former speaker’s fumble is precisely what some Republicans have feared and others have breathlessly anticipated. The Washington Wager was whether Gingrich could make it for four weeks without self-immolating before Iowa. Or would he find himself so irresistible that he just had to express himself?