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Right Turn
Posted at 06:33 PM ET, 01/04/2012

Gingrich is out for revenge

It is symptomatic of Newt Gingrich’s ego and the distorted view of the world which accompanies it that he is convinced his woes are traceable to ideological enemies who lie and cheat to prevent his wonderfulness from becoming available to the American people. It was Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s fault he was brought up on ethics charges. It is the mainstream media that distorts his own words. And it is Mitt Romney who had the temerity to point out Gingrich’s own record and embarrass him, which has robbed him of his golden opportunity.

Sound farfetched? Well, if you saw his post-caucus speech, filled with venom, and watched his behavior thereafter you’ll come to see, I think, that he is now motivated purely by anger and spite. His ire is directed specifically at Romney (not Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.)) for reasons not entirely clear, although the notion of a viable candidate besting him for the nomination is probably too much for him to bear.

Consider his angry man routine in Iowa:

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I’ve frankly not seen a more self-destructive and mean spirited speech. Howard Dean’s yell was weird, but not malicious. A PR specialist described his performance this way:

If there’s one word to describe how Gingrich came across tonight, it’s this: pissed. He emanated anger, directed at Romney, for the negative ads run against his campaign. He went so far as to suggest that the negative ads against him were not worthy of the sacrifices of American men and women in combat. He then proceeded to unequivocally slam Mitt Romney’s leadership as the governor of Massachusetts. Americans do not elect angry candidates. Just ask Pat Buchanan or Howard Dean. If Gingrich can’t get a grip on his temper and radiate some optimism again, he’s going to implode before he ever makes it to South Carolina.

But I suspect it doesn’t matter to Gingrich whether he wins or not. He’s lost control. How else to explain his inability to even observe common courtesy? Politico noted that, after a speech in which he “seethed” at Romney, his anger did not cool :

Newt Gingrich still won’t congratulate Mitt Romney for winning the Iowa caucuses.
At a news conference in Concord, N.H., Gingrich was asked by CBS correspondent Dean Reynolds why he congratulated Rick Santorum but not Romney.
Gingrich stared at the reporter and raised his eyebrows in silence, eventually drawing laughter from some of the reporters.
“Because I know you would be a man of great professionalism, I know that’s a rhetorical question. And a good one,” Gingrich said.

This is not the behavior of a man aiming to win. It’s someone who has nothing to lose and who is willing to tear town the building around his own head to make his point.

There are two unintended consequences of this campaign-turned-public temper-tantrum. First, he’s doing the dirty work for Rick Santorum and Gov. Rick Perry, who can send Gingrich off as their errand boy to rough up Romney. They can sit back and pick up the support that Gingrich dislodges. Gingrich is now too scary for most voters, but the other two can reap the benefits of a Gingrich meltdown.

But more to the point, Gingrich’s behavior, his mere presence in the race in South Carolina, will likely ensure a Romney win. Romney knows Gingrich is unhinged and will meet Gingrich fury with calm resolve, making Romney look all the more presidential. That will also take time and attention away from more credible attacks on the issues. Moreover, so long as Gingrich is drawing 10-15 percent of the vote, he’s making it impossible for the only real candidate with a shot, Rick Santorum, to consolidate the not-Romney base.

It is useless to appeal to Gingrich rationally, for he is acting out of rage. It is possible, however, for the people of New Hampshire to short-circuit a faux campaign which is nothing more than a stunt that inevitably damages the party. They can put him in last place in New Hampshire. That would potentially cut him out of the CNN debate and make clear that any Gingrich votes from thereon out would be wasted. Heck, the Union Leader could even redeem itself by appraising the situation and selecting a different candidate to endorse, one who is not putting his personal satisfaction above the conservative movement and the party.

By  |  06:33 PM ET, 01/04/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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