Charlie Cook – the smartest elections forecaster and analyst out there – argues that campaign fundamentals still matter, and that we shouldn’t rush to think Newt will be the GOP nominee.
Even after stipulating that the former House speaker is a very smart guy with more ideas than any three politicians you will ever find, I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around the possibility that he will be the GOP nominee. To accept that scenario, you have to buy the idea that the laws of political gravity have been suspended this year, that things that normally matter a lot aren’t going to matter this year—or, to borrow a title from a popular book, This Time Is Different.
We are asked to believe that having campaign money isn’t important. That campaign organization and infrastructure don’t matter, even in a fight for delegates spread across 50 states. That it’s OK for the entire campaign brain trust of the apparent front-runner to reside under one head of hair and between one set of ears. That it’s feasible for one person to not only devise but also implement a national strategy and tactical plans for every state.
Then we are asked to believe that Republicans, specifically conservatives, are going to ignore some of the more problematic aspects of Gingrich’s background and policy positions. I personally like and respect Gingrich a great deal, and he has always been nice to me and generous with his time, so I won’t rehash all of his potential problems among conservatives. Let’s just take one—sitting on a love seat with the reviled Nancy Pelosi talking about climate change, in a 2008 ad that he was asked to do by former Vice President Al Gore, another Democrat not held in exceedingly high regard among Republicans. How is that appearance going to look when an opponent cuts it up and puts it into an ad aired on Fox? A large closet, if not a whole warehouse, of opposition research on Gingrich is being readied and is just now starting to be unloaded. This material is arguably much richer than anything ever assembled against any other candidate. After all, Gingrich has been in the political arena for a very long time and has had far more than his share of detractors willing to share their grievances.
None of this is to suggest that Gingrich cannot win the Republican nomination. It is to suggest that, now that the spotlight is aimed almost exclusively on him, Gingrich has to clear very real obstacles.
I agree with George Will’s assessment of Newt – he’s the classic retail politician who is not a conservative – and find that he also lacks the demeanor to be president. One need not be the perfect orator, but in the world of a fast news cycle, a slip-up can set an agenda back a day or a week, or even end it. What we don’t need is a president who leads with his foot in his mouth and is forced to resort to blaming the mainstream media for their liberal bias. And this is to say nothing of his inflated sense of self-worth.
TOTPS watches Gingrich with excitement to see his inevitable implosion, and with fear that it will not come soon enough.