Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Newt Gingrich Is On Fire

Sources: Gingrich set to propose shipping national debt to Mars at tonight's debate.

Newt Gingrich is the frontrunner in the Republican contest for presidential candidate. He has this status because he isn't a flip-flopping, cardboard-cutout, Mormon Ken doll named Mitt. If you believe the media narrative -- not always wrong -- the theme of the Republican campaign so far is "anyone but Mitt."

A case -- and a media narrative -- could be made that Mitt Romney is still the frontrunner even though he's behind Gingrich in the polls. Why? Two reasons: one, Gingrich can't beat Obama and Romney might be able to, and, two, anyone who has listened to Newt Gingrich in the last decade knows he's going to convince voters he's mad as a hatter. Romney, on the other hand, will be able to convince voters he's sane. Not any more trustworthy, but at least sane.

So why is Gingrich currently polling on top? It's simply because the Republican base is "dating" him. Sure, he's the same clown he's always been, showing up at every dance, enthusiastically assuming everyone wants to dance with him or listen to his extraordinarily, fundamentally earth-shattering new ideas that will change Washington forever, even though anyone who even paid the slightest attention would know that he's been sucking on the Washington teat for as long as, well, almost as long as Pat Buchanan.

Soon enough, the powers that be in the Republican Party will acknowledge what a smarmy quack he is  -- even if his actual ideology is lockstep with the rest of the pack -- and usher him out as quickly as possible. They might even succeed, but you never know. What if the base just can't stomach Romney? What if the base refuses to listen to the grown-ups, you know, like Karl Rove or Judd Gregg, and go all in with the huckster?

We shouldn't say it's hard to imagine. But the knives are already out. Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post's arch-conservative blogger, just called him "a font of loony ideas," just because he suggested yesterday that we could transform poor neighborhoods by abolishing child labor laws, which he decried as "stupid."

See for yourself:

Good on ya, Newt. At this rate we won't have you to kick around much longer, and we were just getting used to having you around. Keep coming up with these extraordinarily, fundamentally breathtaking sea changes, and the Koch brothers will personally put a contract out on you.

But at least you were on fire for another fifteen minutes. But we progressives were rooting for you, Newt, we really were. Why'd you have to screw it up?

What if we're wrong, what if you've got staying power? What if they like you, really really like you? We can only pray.

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