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The Fix’s Aaron Blake talked about the latest in politics and elections.

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Posted at 10:04 AM ET, 06/10/2011

Gingrich implosion: We’ll miss him

I’m not at all happy to hear that Newt Gingrich is no longer running for president. Oh, sure, he says he’s still in the race – but come on. His entire senior staff quit! That’s such a classic implosion they should teach it in engineering schools.

To understand what’s going on here we don’t need Chuck Todd, we need Enrico Fermi.

The Gingrich campaign is nothing now but a smoldering crater, the product of right-wing social engineering conducted by the man’s own staff while he was cruising the Mediterranean. (Greece DID need some economic stimulus.)

The senior staff surely didn’t quit because of a high-brow strategic disagreement among political professionals. They quit because they learned something along the way about the man they were working for. In their collective professional judgment, they could no longer support his candidacy. They decided: Our guy is toxic.

Remember, these weren’t all hired guns. A couple of them had been with Gingrich for more than a decade. Wonder how that conversation went yesterday. Maybe a bruised feeling or two?

What does it feel like to be thrown under your campaign bus as if you were a duffel bag?

The Gingrich implosion may ultimately be good for the Republican party, but it’s bad for journalism. Newt is interesting. He may be the most quotable GOP candidate other than the former governor of Alaska who must not be named. You never know what he’ll say. He’s smart, mean and undisciplined. He can say something very wonky and history-professorish one minute, then segue into a scurrilous attack below the belt. “Bomb-thrower” has been on his business card since the 1980s.

But he has some fatal flaws. He lacks intellectual modesty. Gingrich has the overpowering need to be seen as the smartest guy in the room. This makes for interesting copy, but it doesn’t make for a winning candidate. The intellectual grandiosity undermines team play. It makes the candidate incapable of taking advice. (And by the way, I’d be skeptical of the whispering campaign against Mrs. Gingrich. Sounds diversionary to me. These are pros — they’ve survived tricky spouse dynamics before. Their problem was with the candidate, not the wife). In a Politico story, an unnamed aide says Gingrich refused to follow the staff’s advice to do retail politicking in Iowa and New Hampshire. Said the aide: “Sometimes the smartest guy in the room thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room.”

The fact that he’s multiply divorced and a man of confessed personal flaws makes him all the more compelling. He’s no picket-fence Republican.

When he announced his candidacy he immediately crafted a phrase we hadn’t heard before from a Republican candidate – “right-wing social engineering.” Maybe he’d been eager to lob that verbal bomb against Paul Ryan, but more likely it came to him a nanosecond earlier and he decided to go with it. Quotable, tweetable, Gingrich is a guy you can’t take your eyes off of for a second.

Whereas Tim Pawlenty does not need to be monitored.

Or Mitt Romney. Romney wants to be the nice guy next door. Easy going. Reasonable. He’s even opined that humans contribute to climate change – apostasy for the GOP primary base. Next thing you know, he’ll say he believes in evolution.

Without Newt, the GOP field got a little duller. So I guess everyone can go back to obsessing over what’s-her-name.

By  |  10:04 AM ET, 06/10/2011

 
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