Newt Gingrich has been a college professor, a congressman, speaker of the House, a big-time lecturer, a Washington insider, a Washington outsider (depends on the day) and a repeated presidential candidate. Today he became the tree in the forest that fell silently. He pulled out of the presidential race, and almost no one was around to hear it.
Gingrich made the announcement in a place called Concord, N.C., to whatever supporters he has left. The news was dispatched to a grateful nation by telephone and the usual stuff — Twitter, etc. — but not, as far I can find, by reporters on the scene. The Washington Post reported the story from Washington and the New York Times from New York. Politico reported the story with its usual banner headline, but it, too, seemed to have no one with Gingrich at the time. This has got to be the loneliest of all campaigns.
Whatever prompted Gingrich to cease his mad quest — aside, that is, from reality — is not immediately known. It could be that his major benefactors said enough, no more checks, or it could be that Republican Party bigwigs threatened him with ostracism and endless penury if he continued, or it could be that Callista hit him upside the head and vowed, “No more motel rooms.” Any of these are likely. In fact, with Gingrich, anything is likely.
It is sad to see the self-proclaimed Big Ideas man go. I long ago thought he would wind up like Occupy Wall Street — the odd sighting, the surprise that it is not yet over (What are they occupying?) — and that people would come in out of the woods and talk about Gingrich sightings as they do Sasquatch, another Republican no doubt. Gingrich would grow a beard, sport Howard Hughes nails, convert to yet another religion and talk up outer space, the only district he might have carried.
So it seems to be over. But Gingrich will be back. In four years, he will only be 72, which is younger than Ronald Reagan was as president and about what John McCain was when he ran last time out. He will never stop. It is the one idea that has never occurred to him.