An Eye of Newt – Gingrich (Finally) Pre-Announces His Candidacy for President
In not-so-breaking news that will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone at all, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is set (we think) to more or less officially kick off his candidacy for President of the United States. This comes only a couple of months after sort of doing the same thing before realizing he couldn’t legally do so. In any case, Gingrich is expected to make the announcement on Wednesday (after yesterday leaking the announcement that his staff would make a pre-announcement today of his announcement tomorrow). No one should be shocked that Gingrich is choosing to run given that he pretty much has seen himself as “President of all he can see” for years. And according to the Mayan calendar 2012 presents his only realistic shot at the office (unless you count 2016 when the field will be wide open again).
So can he win?
Well, that depends on the question “win what?” Are you talking the Republican primary or the general election?
Okay, that was a trick question. The answer to both is no, he cannot win, neither the primary or the general election. Which is pretty much why he decided to run. At least he can say he was a contender.
Don’t get me wrong. Gingrich has a lot going for him. For one, he is a master organizer and fundraiser. He is adept at spotting the trend, jumping to the head as the bandwagon forms behind him, and creating whatever new “non-profit” organization is needed to propagandize the issue of the day. Remember “Drill Baby Drill?” Gingrich spawned the original soundbite that morphed into the catchphrase made so familiar by VP candidate Sarah Palin in 2008. Like Palin, Gingrich is good at self-promotion. He has managed to create an aura of being an “idea man,” in part because of his obvious intellect and his ability to speak like he swallowed a very large dictionary. [In the words of my ancestors, “he talks real good.”]
Unfortunately for Gingrich, he also has a lot going against him. I suspect his fellow Republicans, and most certainly the Democratic-leaning advocacy groups, will remind everyone that Gingrich was lying about his 6-year long extramarital affair with a much younger staffer while impeaching former President Clinton for lying about an extramarital affair with a much younger intern. [For his candidacy Gingrich has euphemistically framed this affair as a “non-traditional start’ to his now 11-year marriage. Notably he hasn’t mentioned that he had cheated on his first wife with his second wife to be, which is the one he cheated on before marrying his third wife to be. No word on if there was other cheating with women he didn’t end up marrying. ]
Besides this particular looseness Gingrich has also left a trail of hypocrisy on various issues of importance. While he has a reputation of being analytical, if you really listen he gets a lot more credit than he deserves. And frankly, his tendency to speak in high falutin’ language often comes off as more than a wee bit elitist and egomaniacal. His “flip-flopping” has become legendary as his finger-in-the-wind speechifying has put him at odds with himself so much that it is difficult to pin him down exactly on what he believes.
As most will remember – and the Democrats are likely to remind those who don’t – Gingrich was the force behind the 1994 “Contract with America,” which helped propel Gingrich into the Speaker’s chair. The Contract promised that the House would pass 10 policy bills within 100 days of taking the majority, which it did with grand flourish. So why would the Democrats be the ones reminding the voters? In part because only 1 of the 10 bills ever became law (and at least one was found to be un-Constitutional). In part because majority leader Dick Armey was also very much involved – the same Dick Armey that is now a lobbyist behind FreedomWorks, the lobbying organization behind the tea party. In fact, the conservative lobbying shop The Heritage Foundation wrote most of the Contract.
Oh, and he almost single-handedly was responsible for shutting down the government.
The Democrats see this as a vast cornucopia of negative history for which to use against Gingrich, though many in the tea party might find his history to have many positives. We’ll see how that plays out in time.
So bottom line – Gingrich is in. He is a formidable fundraiser and organizer with an ability to merge his eloquent rhetoric with the winds of whim. All that should make him a serious candidate. PGH still predicts he won’t come close to winning.
I’ll explain more in future PGH posts.
Photo Credit: From Wiki entry for Newt Gingrich. Photographer Gage Skidmore