“How do we stop Newt?”
I’ve now been asked that question by a lot of conservatives. It’s not that I’m the go-to guy for that sort of question. Rather, one gets the sense that many “establishment” conservatives are asking everybody that question — in staff meetings, at the chiropodist, even at the McDonald’s drive-through.
Not surprising then that there are more knives out for Gingrich than in a Ginsu infomercial. For instance, former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu has been nurturing a grievance against Gingrich since he was White House chief of staff in 1990. For two decades he’s been like Inigo Montoya in “The Princess Bride.” “Hello, my name is John Sununu. You destroyed my boss’ presidency; prepare to die.”
But Sununu’s barbs bounce off Gingrich, as has George Will’s more brutal rhetorical artillery fire. Conventional weapons are useless against Newtzilla.
First, what are you going to say about the guy that people don’t already know? Just as it’s OK to speak openly about the fact that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father, Gingrich’s backstory provides no spoilers. Herman Cain was undone because people were still forming their first impressions of him. Everything bad about Gingrich — the flip-flops, the wives, the ego — is known. Once voters have convinced themselves they can overlook that stuff, it’s hard to change their minds simply by repeating it.
Moreover, conservative voters distrust the conservative establishment — variously defined — almost as much as they distrust the liberal establishment (that’s why David Brooks, the notoriously moderate New York Times columnist, leveled the most vicious charge he could against Gingrich: He touted their similarities!)
Also, Gingrich benefits enormously by being the last obvious “not-Romney” candidate. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Cain were all well to Gingrich’s right, and many voters assume that Gingrich is being attacked for the same reason that his not-Romney predecessors were.
Way back in 1992 we first heard rumors that the Big Dawg was an Arkansas Leghound. Ever since then it has been tabloid grist and the fodder for late-night jokes. In the meantime Bill Clinton won two elections.
So when the story broke in January 1998 that Slick Willie didn’t come clean in his Paula Jones deposition, people were somewhat less than shocked. The GOP (led by Newt Gingrich) thought they finally found the smoking gun that would end Bill Clinton’s career. But most voters didn’t care anymore. Bill was innoculated against that kind of attack.
So is Newt Gingrich.
Thirteen years ago he left office in disgrace, with enough ethical and moral baggage to end several careers. But he didn’t go away.
Now he’s back from the dead, and his baggage has been turned to armor. It says a lot about Mitt Romney that so many Republicans now view Newt Gingrich as their savior.
I have to disagree with Uppity. Newt might pull it off.
I got a feeling I’m not gonna get a happy ending no matter how it turns out.
This is not an endorsement of Newt Gingrich. This is an assessment of his political skills and chances of winning. If you held a gun to my head and told me to choose between Newt and Obama, I would tell you to pull the trigger.