Newt Gingrich has been in the news an awful lot recently for someone who’s essentially a washed-up has-been. And I think you have to understand him floating the idea of a 2012 presidential run in that context. The idea of a campaign keeps him in the news which helps him with his fundraising. And I’m sure he’s enjoying a very comfortable life raking in some special interest bucks to make occasional TV appearance and launch fake “ideas” that amount to “tax cuts and giveaways to fossil fuel companies.” But as Jason Zengerle says “the odds that Newt runs for president in 2012 are as low as they were in 2008. Still, you’ve got to love the way he carefully constructs excuses he can use for when he ultimately decides not to toss his hat in the ring.”
The latest twist on this is that his consultations about whether or not to run include the delicate sensibilities of his grandchildren. But the whole thing is preposterous. Even back when Gingrich was a powerful officeholder he was hideously unpopular! Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign strategy in 1996 largely revolved around painting Bob Dole as similar to Newt Gingrich. It’s very easy to paint Newt Gingrich as similar to Newt Gingrich. They even look the same. They’ve got the same name. The same voting record. The main’s a Gingrich clone. No, wait, it’s the same guy!
The strange thing, from where I sit, is how much difficulty the GOP seems to be having in finding a white Catholic guy from the Midwest and deciding that he’s the big rising star. It’s clear from the election results that a large number of white midwestern Catholics are Republicans, and that’s the winning identity for a GOP national figure. Instead you get Bobby Jindal, the bizarre Michael Steele, and a procession of warmed-over southern evangelicals.