The Washington Post

The world wasn’t ready for Newt’s presidential candidacy

Twitter is exploding with the news that the inner circle of Newt’s presidential campaign abruptly resigned en masse, perhaps ending what may have been the worst presidential campaign launch in American history. I think this nugget in the Politico story on his campaign’s implosion gets closest to explaining what really happened here:

Gingrich was intent on using technology and standing out at debates to get traction while his advisers believed he needed to run a campaign that incorporated both traditional, grassroots techniques as well as new ideas.

It seems pretty clear that Newt believed that he could run for President on the force of his ideas alone — amplified and disseminated through new technology. After all, not long ago, Newt stated this explicitly:

“It’s going to take a while for the news media to realize that you’re covering something that happens once or twice in a century, a genuine grass-roots campaign of very big ideas,” said Gingrich. “I expect it to take a while for it to sink in.”

Gingrich, it seems safe to assume, probably came to feel the same way about his aides. They were insisting that he’d be unable mount a credible candidacy without doing all the grunt work of organizing, tending to the grassroots, sucking up to donors and local potentates, etc. etc. Indeed, Newt’s Iowa staff has now also resigned en masse, precisely because he seemed unwilling to do the work necessary to keep a presidential campaign running.

All these lemmings, clearly, were unable to grasp that his candidacy was something historic; something profoundly transformative; even something Messianic. Imprisoned by their inability to comprehend that the force of Newt’s ideas alone would be enough to propel his candidacy, they walked.

Of course, you really can’t fault Newt for seeing things this way. Commentators and Republicans have been telling him that he’s one of the GOP’s intellectual deities for at least a decade now. Why wouldn’t he believe them?

In all seriousness, it has been plainly obvious from the start that Newt never had any intention of running a real presidential campaign, and that the whole thing was nothing but an exercise in Messianism. Why is anyone even surprised by any of this?

UPDATE: I’d say he thought a combination of the force of his ideas, disseminated via new technology, could get him into the Oval Office. I’ve edited the above to reflect that.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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