Suggested campaign slogan:"Gingrich 2012: He will always love America. Unless it gets cancer"
~ ALEX KNAPP The Republican Party's field of presidential wannabes ranges from outright loons to mediocrities to perhaps two candidates who have the chops to run a smart campaign, although not beat President Obama. They would be Mitt Romney, who is likely to run, and Mitch Daniels, who would best cool his heels until 2016.
Then there is the massive ego who goes by the name of Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich, who plans to announce his candidacy tomorrow although he has the slimmest of chances of getting the nomination.
This is not because of Gingrich's serial infidelities and the fact that his third wife Callista, who "he began dating while still married," as The New York Times euphemistically puts it, will be at his side on the campaign trail and as a trophy wife a constant reminder of his deep moral rot. After all, it is only Democrats who get lambasted for their turpitudes.
This is not because Gingrich says some truly over the top things, like linking that moral rot to patriotism: "There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate."
This is not because of Gingrich's notorious flip-flopping, including being for health-care reform before he was against it, and for a Libyan no-fly zone until there was one and he was against it. After all, what's a little flip-flopping, even a lot of flip-flopping, among politicians. (Are you listening, John McCain?)
This is not because Gingrich is a chickenhawk who worked assiduously to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. After all, so did Tom Delay, Karl Rove and George Bush (with an asterisk), as well as Dick Cheney, who attacked Viet vet John Kerry in 2004 for being weak on national defense but himself did not serve because he had "other priorities."
It is because Gingrich, of any of the wannabes, represents the grouchy old man conservative political order that McCain so ably represented before him.
Gingrich also can point to the disastrous government shutdown that he engineered as his greatest accomplishment, he has the distinction of being the first speaker to be reprimanded in the House's history for ethics violations, and while he is a so-called intellectual heavyweight, that talent is subsumed by a gutter instinct.
Oh, and Gingrich's net favorability ratings among voters are in double-digit negatives (Sarah Palin, too), something which since 2000 has only been true of two other candidates -- Pat Buchanan and Al Sharpton.
Photograph by Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press