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Don’t get on a tag team with Newt Gingrich

I’m not sure you want to have Newt Gingrich as your tag-team partner.

When last we addressed the topic of what is keeping Newt Gingrich in the race for the Repub presidential nomination, Gingrich had just lost the Alabama and Mississippi primaries (after his spokester had said that he had to win them both to remain a credible candidate). But Gingrich announced that he would stay in the race anyway. He described a “tag-team” approach that he and Rick Santorum would use to keep Mitt Romney from reaching the magic number of delegates for a first ballot nomination.

It didn’t really make sense. It ignored the winner-take-all states where running against multiple alternatives actually gave Romney an advantage, and it ignored the likelihood that if Romney limped into the convention just a few votes short, the Repub superdelegates would almost certainly put him over the top, even on the first ballot. But if you didn’t think about it too hard, it almost kinda made sense and in some of the remaining states it almost sorta might work.

But if you were trying to believe in that meshugana theory, you would want to assume that in today’s Illinois primary, where Gingrich is not a serious contender and where polls suggest that Santorum is on the ropes, you would expect Santorum’s “tag team” partner to be encouraging anyone within the sound of his voice to support Santorum.

Instead, Gingrich has put up a post, in his own name, on the highly-trafficked RedState blog, in which he brings up a series of votes from Santorum’s Senate days that call Santorum’s conservative bona fides into question (“voted to raise the debt ceiling five times,” “voted with Democrats and Big Labor to defeat the National Right to Work Act,” “bragged about his support for a higher Minimum Wage,” etc., etc).

I’m reminded of David Brooks’ recent excellent metaphor for the Repub race as “a series of heresy trials in which each of the candidates accuse the others of tribal impurity.”

Amusingly, Gingrich, who is inclined to credit himself for everything creditworthy that happened in the country during his years as speaker, also attributes everything bad that happened after he left to the work of what he terms the “Rick Santorum Republicans.” As chair of the Senate Republican Conference in those years, Santorum was roughly the third-ranking member of the party leadership in the last years before he was defeated for reelection in 2006, but on Planet Gingrich, it was the “Rick Santorum Republicans” who bear responsibility for all bad things that happened (even though the big ones were signed into law by George W. Bush).

I offer no new theory as to what Gingrich is up to but am reminded of Andy Borowitz hilarious parody of Gingrich’s remarks on the night of SuperTuesday when he lost every contest except his own state of Georgia but vowed again to stay in the race. Borowitz has Gingrich saying: “This race isn’t about winning or losing. This is about me standing in front of a microphone and listening to the sound of my own voice for as long as possible.”

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/20/2012 - 11:29 am.

    There should be no problem with determining “why is Gingrich is still in the race”.

    Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD):

    … a grandiose sense of self-importance

    …is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

    …believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

    …requires excessive admiration

    …has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

    …is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

    …lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

    …is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

    …shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

    It’s all ego. The most important thing for him is that he remains in the race, remains part of the public consciousness, remain relevant, be at least a convention king-maker, and ideally becoming a player in the next administration. Who knows, an especially “grandiose” speech in the convention may make him the presidential candidate to emerge from a divided convention.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/20/2012 - 12:39 pm.

    “She turned me into a Newt! Burn her!!”

    Andy Borowitz is on to something, as is David Brooks. What comes through most clearly in the Gingrich presidential campaign, at least to those of us not inclined to vote for him – for anything – is not only that he does his part and more to prove David Brooks right about the heresy trial aspects of the campaign, but that what might have started out as something relatively sincere, perhaps as sincere as Gingrich is capable of being, anyway, has morphed into an exercise in ego. He certainly has intelligence, and a great vocabulary, but it’s intelligence of the most facile sort, and command of the language means little if what’s underneath is little more than outright selfishness.

  3. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 03/20/2012 - 01:10 pm.

    REJECTED Who cares at all

    Except for his 3rd? 4th? wife who might be able to buy more jewelry at Tiffany’s with a Newt book deal than a “campaign”.

  4. Submitted by Rolf Westgard on 03/20/2012 - 01:24 pm.

    Well done

    Great analysis by Eric.

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 03/20/2012 - 01:56 pm.

    REJECTED The irony

    of course, is that Newt Gingrich actually has a successful record in government as a credential, including balancing the federal budget, welfare reform, tax reform, etc., unlike the current occupant who ran with no qualifications other than the knowledge and confidence that the majority of the people would vote for him because of what he looked like.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 03/21/2012 - 07:45 am.

      My, what a short memory!

      …the current occupant who ran with no qualifications other than the knowledge and confidence that the majority of the people would vote for him because of what he looked like…

      Seems to me that there were a few addition reasons of why to not vote the Republican candidate: an obviously clueless Republican president, a stumbling performance by the Republican candidate who had no answers for any of the big issues, two pointless wars that had no end in sight, a massive collapse of a crony-capitalism bubble economy. and a bizarre vice-presidential pick by the Republican candidate.

      That’s right, other than those minor issues, it was all about Obama’s skin color.

      Just like it remains to this day.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 03/21/2012 - 09:52 am.

      Let’s not forget . . .

      . . . Newt’s impeccable credential of having shut down the federal government after getting in a snit about where he would sit on Air Force One. Add in the willingness to spout thinly-veiled racist statements (far worse than your inbevitable rely reference to Robert de Niro), and you have a winner.

      By the way, everything you said about Newt Gingrich’s record could, with at least equal validity, be said about former President Clinton.

  6. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/21/2012 - 09:43 am.

    If you know what the Newt is up to

    then you know more than he does.

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