I hope I ever love anything as much as Newt Gingrich loves public speaking.
It’s one of the great tragic love stories of all time.
His campaign is more than a million dollars in debt and has laid off a third of its advisors. And Newt is now in Frederick, Md., at Hood College, speaking to the College Republicans. There are, according to the group’s vice president, Sarah Morris, only 15 regular members. But they have managed to muster a formidable crowd of about 400 in the school’s Hodson Auditorium.
To say that no one was enjoying himself more than Gingrich might be an understatement. Everyone seemed mildly interested at best, and Newt positively exulted in every minute of it.
If he doesn’t get the nomination, he will still cover the country attempting to have the equivalent of sixteen three-hour Lincoln-Douglas debates, all by himself.
This wasn’t a campaign in ruins. It was Newt Gingrich doing exactly what Newt Gingrich has been doing all his life — lecturing exuberantly about intriguing impossibilities. Twice in the course of the speech he attempted to assign projects to the assembled students.
If West Georgia College had just given him tenure, we might not be sitting here today. He’s a professor without a class, all dressed up with no place to lecture. And it’s an old lecture.
“Test tube babies, brain transplants, personality pills and courses you can take in a capsule are some of the developments being discussed in ‘The Year 2000’, a course offered for the first time this quarter at West Georgia College.
“This course is offered to help students prepare for rapid change — to recognize it and keep pace with it,” according to the instructor, Dr. Newt Gingrich. “The world is changing so rapidly that this country is, in effect, creating a whole new culture.”
That was January 1971.
On April 2, 2012, Newt Gingrich was addressing another crowd of nonplussed college students.
“We’re in a world that is changing very rapidly,” Newt said. “Nobody actually understands that very well.”
The more things change, the more things stay the same.
This presidential campaign is just a minor inconvenience that Professor Newt has to undergo in order to fill an auditorium.
“Newt is the only candidate with the experience necessary to rebuild the America we love,” Callista read, dutiful in teal. But when she introduced him as “the next president of the United States,” the four hundred gathered in the Hood College hall could not suppress a chuckle.
After that, they contained themselves admirably. The point of the exercise, after all, was the exploration of remote possibilities. That’s always been Newt’s area of expertise.
Newt Gingrich has a strict policy banning all fat ladies from coming within a two-mile radius of his campaign events. The temptation to start singing might be too great. Newt lags in delegates. He hasn't won a state since his home state of Georgia. He hasn't come close. But he’s in it for the long haul. Just today he affirmed that he would be going to Tampa.
If he stopped, hundreds of speeches would wither, undelivered, on the vine. Dozens of observations. Leave? Now? And quit show business?
That’s a fate worse than debt.
Perhaps it’s cruel to say that this is what the campaign has always been: not a campaign, but a lecture tour. This is the sort of thing that makes Gingrich rail against the media.
At the Gingrich speech, two men distributed pins reading, “Don’t Believe The Liberal Media!”
Newt has been running for months on the idea that the Mainstream Media are trying to keep him down and out of contention. If we stopped being so distracted by all the news that is reported and all the polls that are published, we would soon see that he was winning.
Why doubt him? Making potentially erroneous predictions about the future has long been Gingrich’s area of expertise.
Hang mirrors in space to light the streets! Revisit the moon! Did somebody say brain transplants?
The great thing about the future is that anything can happen there.
“I wouldn’t count any of the candidates out,” said Sarah Morris, Vice President of the Hood College Republicans. “There’s still time… Our club does not count him out.”
If the campaign were realistic, it wouldn’t be any fun. And in the mean time, Newt gets to talk. And talk. And talk.