For years after Japan surrendered in 1945, Japanese soldiers were found still fighting on this or that Pacific island, unaware that the war had ended. One of the last was Fumio Nakahira, an army captain, who was discovered on the Philippines island of Mindoro in 1980. He was the Newt Gingrich of his day.
Gingrich, too, has vowed to fight on. His sword will rust and his horse will die under him, but he and the loyal Callista will persist, taking their quest for the White House into the bush, the jungle, the mountain redoubts of America. There will be sightings — Gingrich appearing at some Holiday Inn, at a bowling alley, in the forest, at a meeting of the Tea Party. Most of these sightings will be unconfirmed, but occasionally the TV news will find someone who swears he saw Gingrich. “He was here,” the witness will say, “and he had some grand ideas.”
For a time, Gingrich will work as a greeter at the Las Vegas Venetian hotel, owned by his (sole) benefactor, Sheldon Adelson. This is what Joe Louis did at Caesar’s Palace in the 1970s, and some people thought it was beneath him. But the champ needed a job, and so does Gingrich, and these things can be explained away. After a while, though, even Adelson will tire of Gingrich and his incessant hectoring of hotel guests with one idea after another. “Let me unpack,” one guest was heard to plead. That was when Adelson sacked Gingrich despite his having converted to Judaism, his fourth religion.
In his own mind, Gingrich was a guerrilla fighter. He saw himself as living off the land, darting into some village or town and leaving a big idea behind. Every so often, he would call a news conference and announce the firing of his campaign manager, even though by then he didn’t have any. Mysterious position papers kept appearing, some of them nicely done and even making some sense, but then would come a tirade and a call to go to war — sometimes against a country no one ever heard of.
Gingrich blamed the elite media for not covering him. He blamed the Republican Party for shutting him out. He blamed the 21st century for not being the 20th, and he would make forays into Washington, showing up at the TV networks on Sunday morning, hoping to get on “Meet the Press,” which almost anyone could. He was always turned away, sometimes because Rick Santorum was the main guest, but usually on account of John McCain, who had taken an apartment in the NBC Bureau. Gingrich would then retreat, vowing never to surrender. “I will return,” he exclaimed, echoing Douglas MacArthur. He never did …
… But he never left, either.