On Tuesday night in North Carolina, Newt Gingrich made an unprecedented announcement. “Over the next few days we’re going to look realistically at where we’re at,” he said.
This is a sudden departure from years of Gingrich practice. Look realistically at where we’re at? Why start now?
The entire campaign has been unrealistic.
It was like the Hindenburg — blimpy, vaguely futuristic and doomed to unsuccess.
It resembled “Moby Dick” in its grandiosity and improbability. But in the Gingrich version, the monomaniacal, long-winded sea captain and the great white whale were the same person.
Now GOP insiders say Newt will be suspending his campaign within the next week. In the meantime, he says, he will continue to campaign “as a citizen.” I have no idea what this means. Most ordinary citizens do not have Secret Service details and fly around in private jets. But Newt has never made any pretense of being ordinary.
He’s always billed himself as an expert in the future. No doubt he saw this coming.
Newt won only two states, and those victories were based on the premise that, if nominated, he would challenge President Obama to a series of multi-hour Lincoln-Douglas debates. This actually swayed people! “Yes,” voters said, “that is what we want: a candidate capable of talking for three-hour stretches until President Obama wilts with despair.”
Newt got farther than anyone thought he would — except, perhaps Newt himself. It just goes to show what you can do with the power of simple tools like social media, a smile, and the backing of billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
The spotlight had grown dimmer as the weeks passed. The few sturdy facts that had remained by Gingrich’s side through all the debates (World War II only took us four years to win! That’s less time than it took the Army Corps of Engineers to study how to widen the Port of Charleston!) began to mutiny and long for shore. Callista’s hair would have evinced distress as well, if it were capable of movement.
What doomed it? Was it the penguin bite? Was it the moon units? Was it the creeping realization among the voting public that this was Newt Gingrich?
Now it’s all over but the shouting. All that’s left is a memory, and $4.3 million of debt. Like most good vacations.
What was this? Was it a lecture tour? A book tour? A vacation? A sideshow? All of the above? None of the above?
It was certainly grandiose, verbose and went on much longer than anyone thought possible. What else were we expecting from Citizen Newt?