This campaign has maxed out on irony. Example No. 1: The Texas Tribune observes;

Two of [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry’s longtime gubernatorial campaign operatives, Dave Carney and Rob Johnson, worked for Gingrich and his presidential campaign until a staff exodus in June. Carney and Johnson enlisted with Perry in August when the Texas governor entered the race. Now, they’re watching Gingrich overtake Perry in some polls, in an awkward, even ironic, campaign twist.

“Are they kicking themselves now?” asked Craig Schoenfeld, an Iowa political strategist who left Gingrich’s campaign and later worked on behalf of Americans for Rick Perry, an exploratory committee for the Texas governor. He’s now working for neither. “I don’t know if they’re having buyer’s remorse or not,” he said. . . .

If enthusiasm and applause from the crowd is any indication, Gingrich outperformed Perry and his other rivals at their last stage-sharing event, at Friday’s Reagan Night Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa. Gingrich was the only one of the five presidential candidates to attend who received a standing ovation — a frequent occurrence for him, particularly among Tea Party-friendly crowds. He’s even got the endorsement of two congressmen from Perry’s home state, Reps. Michael Burgess and Joe Barton.

Example No. 2: Herman Cain, who’s trying to claim that a series of women’s complaints are false, may have encountered a repetitive claim-filer. The Associated Press reports: “A woman who settled a sexual harassment complaint against GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain in 1999 complained three years later at her next job about unfair treatment, saying she should be allowed to work from home after a serious car accident and accusing a manager of circulating a sexually charged email, The Associated Press has learned.” If she were the only complainant this might be a bonanza for Cain. Alas, it’s just ironic that an alleged repeat harasser may be undone, in part, by a repeat plaintiff.

Example No. 3: Cain and his sidekick, Mark Block, are catching up in the accusation race. First, they went after Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the source of the story. Then, they falsely claimed that a Politico reporter is the son of accuser Karen Kraushaar. A Cain spokesman sheepishly admitted: “Based upon information available at the time of Mr. Block’s Tuesday night interview on Fox News, the campaign was led to believe that Mr. Josh Kraushaar, currently with the National Journal and a former employee of Politico, was the son of Karen Kraushaar. Mr. Josh Kraushaar is in fact, not related to Ms. Karen Kraushaar.” “Information available”? Now that’s rich. Always the victim (the poor dear was “led to believe”), never the culprit. And never, ever an apology.

Example No. 4: Cain is being surpassed by a candidate who was thought, because of his own personal baggage and character defects, to be a non-starter in the presidential contest. But Gingrich did his perfunctory apology and now is performing well. Perhaps Cain will have his turn, after appropriate rehabilitation, in some future election, when he will seem to be more stable than whatever fly-by-night operator is leading in that election.

But the greatest irony of all, certainly, is Mitt Romney. An establishment candidate in the first Tea Party-participating presidential race. The careful pol, the RomneyCare author and the polished professional in a race supposed to be about “authenticity” and dominated by vocal hard-core conservative voices. In the heyday of new conservative media, the nominee could very well be someone they abhor.

It’s a useful reminder that politics is about people, with all their faults, foibles and unexpected strengths. People under- and overperform. The unexpected is the only constant. And just when you think you know how it’s all going to turn out, you sense there are more hairpin turns to come. The irony list may grow by leaps and bounds before we see a nominee selected.