Was pleased to learn this afternoon that Newt Gingrich is formally announcing his run for the White House. I literally cannot wait to get back to covering the insane reality show that is the presidential race, especially since the Republicans seem determined to run the most entertaining collection of mutants seen on earth since Tod Browning’s classic Freaks.
Purely from a political-theater standpoint, Gingrich brings several really outstanding qualities to this race. For one thing, he’s a legit threat to win the nomination. He wouldn’t be in any normal year, but when the field is Donald Trump, Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum, anyone who can successfully lick a postage stamp without an instruction booklet is going to be a contender. With Gingrich in the race, Republican voters will now be faced with a terrible, Sophie’s Choice-choice: they can either go the safe/uncontroversial route and pick a Tim Pawlenty or a human advertorial like Mitt Romney, or else they can gamble on a candidate with the “charisma” and “wow factor” to match up with Barack Obama.
The only problem with the latter strategy is that that the leading “charisma” candidate is Gingrich, a relentless mirror-gazer and attention-seeker with a wandering pee-pee and a talent for pseudo-intellectualism. Gingrich, hilariously, is the right’s idea of a “thinker,” which is to say he’s a pompous mispronouncer and Thesaurus-raider who lards up same-old/same-old right-wing rhetoric with quotations from obscure academic texts and inane historical references, so that friendly pundits can later describe the resultant utterances as “fresh new ideas.”
You will hear a lot about these “ideas” of Gingrich’s in the next 18 months or so. In fact, Paul Bedard at U.S. News is already buttering up the candidate in a piece called 11 Reasons Newt Gingrich Will be the 2012 GOP Nominee for President. It turns out that two of Bedard’s 12 reasons are sort of similar. Reason #1:
Ideas and solutions: Given the concerns voters have about the direction of the country, and particularly about the economy, they are more focused on the policies of politicians and the solutions they will produce. Policy is Newt's strength. He is well known for his constant generation of ideas and solutions.
Then there is reason #6:
He is the party's idea man: The number of ideas he has would fill up the to-do lists of most cabinet members.
Be prepared to read a lot of stuff like this without ever hearing exactly what Gingrich’s “ideas” are. Of course it’s not necessary for him to actually have any – it’s enough to have the reputation as an “idea man.” It will be very amusing to watch the press slobber over Newt’s intellectual reputation, and it will be even more fun to watch Newt try to live up to his rep in his campaign appearances. We definitely need to come up with a Newt 2012 drinking game – maybe drink every time he makes a Civil War battle reference? Or quotes Orwell? Reader input definitely welcomed here …