Monday, June 13, 2011

Newt Gingrich's Total Implosion

One of the things the Presidential marathon accomplishes is that it weeds out the hopelessly inept. Candidates who can’t attract support or money or can’t figure out where to park their bus all blow up along the way. But the most spectacular implosion in my lifetime (and that includes Colorado’s own Gary Hart -- who dared the media to follow him to his illicit rendezvous) has been Newt Gingrich. For a man who’s both had power and been so close to power, and for a man who has spent his life studying politics, Gingrich proved to be a fool at best. I actually think he’s something slightly worse.

I’ve previously outlined the problems with Newt’s platform. Despite a reputation as a deep thinker/oracle of the Republican Party, Newt’s platform proved to be nothing more than tired platitudes, insignificant promises, and a desperate desire to feel loved -- something which has made his personal life a mess. But while my research showed serious problems, it couldn’t have predicted the implosion that was coming.

The very day Newt announced his long awaited campaign, he made an unforgiveable gaffe. Indeed, right out of the gates, Newt chose to throw Paul Ryan and conservatism under the Medicare bus. When he was offered the chance to recant, he only made things worse by trying to deny that he said what he said, attacking the media for reporting it, and then trying to explain it away while still standing by it. He finally realized he needed to recant, but by that time his support collapsed from 15% to 7%.

This seemed fatal to his campaign, but Newt wasn’t done imploding.

Last week, it was announced that 16 vital players in Newt’s campaign (including people who have been with him for decades) quit en mass in protest over the way he was handling the campaign. What upset them? They demanded that Newt spend more time on the campaign. Apparently, Newt thought he could campaign for President using Facebook and Twitter and a part-time-candidate approach. Not only did he ignore their concerns, he decided instead to go on a two week Greek cruise with his wife.

Yeah.

If someone wrote this in a book, they would be accused of writing the absurd. Yet, Newt thought nothing of taking two weeks off out of the country right after bombing the introduction of his campaign. When he got back, his staff quit.

And we’re not done yet.

Now it comes out that Newt burned through the campaign war chest so badly that they couldn’t afford the $25,000 entry fee for the upcoming Iowa straw poll. How could they be so broke? Well, for one thing, Newt wasn’t willing to do the fund raising that candidates normally do. . . and being on vacation didn’t help. But the bigger cause of his financial problems was that he was spending $500,000 on a chartered jet so that he could fly home each night.

Newt is either the stupidest candidate we’ve ever had or he was never serious in the first place. I suspect it’s the latter. I have long thought that Newt had no intention of ever running for President as he was satisfied being the party’s guru. But to maintain that position, he needed to maintain the illusion that he intended to run one day so that people would keep seeking his blessing and donating to his organizations. I speculate that he got into this race because he had no choice and he intended only to do just enough to give the appearance of running a campaign. Then he planned to bow out after Iowa on some trumped up reason and return to being the flirty guru again. . . always promising to make another at some point in the future. Sadly for him, it never dawned on him that his staffers might have expected him to run to win or that his donors wouldn’t be too thrilled to realize they’ve been had.

It’s only a matter of time now before Newt drops out. I would guess that his actual campaigning is finished and he will drop out after a few more weeks of pretending. We’ll see, but in either event, no one can take him seriously at this point. And he better watch his legal back before his donors start to scream fraud. They might just have a case.

In the meantime, his implosion opens the door for Rick Perry, who has hired some of Newt’s staff. Tune in tomorrow morning for the scoop on Perry.

So what do you think? Stupid? Fraud? Misunderstood genius?


(P.S. Don't forget that there's a debate tonight at 8:00 PM EST. Feel free to discuss in the comments.)

29 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

This debate is WAY TOO SOON. It gives the Dems lapdog media time to destroy all the early candidates and choose Obama's new McCain.

Yes, it is nice for us. I doubt you will see most of those faces by October. We'll see.

I am glad Newt imploded. The only problem I see now with him is that he drops too soon. I wish he had stayed around to take down another RINO or two.

DUQ said...

It must be a Speaker of the House thing about airplanes. I'm amazed at the arrogance that Gingrich would use donor money to do this. Those people donated to him in the hopes of getting his message across and they didn't think he would use it to travel in luxury.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I'm actually looking forward to it because I'd like to see how several of them perform. I think Pawlenty needs to come out swinging and take command. I think Bachmann and Cain need to really show that they belong on the stage. The rest... we'll see.

The more I think about Newt, the less I like what I see. My biggest fear with him has been that he's in this to be loved and not because he has a conservative plan. So I'm not too broken up about him leaving. I would like to see him toss out some of the conservative ideas he's supposed to be famous for before he goes though.

In terms of the media, I'm not that worried. They will try to destroy anyone who looks good, but these days that's a badge of honor. I'm just glad for the opportunity to get a closer look at these folks.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Good point, Pelosi had plane trouble too! LOL!

It really does show hubris that he thought this was a good use of campaign donations. I would pretty upset if I were a donor and I wonder how this will affect his ability to raise money in the future?

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

Funny you should say that. About raising funds. Most of the way former politicians earn money is by speaking engagements. Newt may have shot up that stream of income as well.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Interestingly, one of his friends came out and said "the problem is that Newt isn't understanding the difference between a campaign and a book speaking tour." So maybe that's what he's gotten used to and he just didn't realize that's not the right model for a campaign?

In any event, you make a good point. This is the sort of thing that can hurt his book sales, speaking career, etc. It depends on how people interpret his failure AND whether they were hiring him because he's a good speaker or because they thought he was a potentially important candidate. You never know?

Tennessee Jed said...

It was actually fun to watch Newt implode. When pretenders are out of the way, we can avoid the distraction they bring. The flip side to that, I guess, is if we choose someone too early, the democrat media will go into overdrive with personal destruction tactics.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

Just goes to show AGAIN how woefully out of touch Newt is. I remind everyone again on his sitting on the couch with She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. With every one of these gaffes, you just want to grab Newt by the shirt collar and say, "What were you thinking man?!?!?!?" Or as you say, maybe he sabotaged himself on purpose so he wouldn't have to keep pretending. It wouldn't surprise me.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I agree. Newt's implosion has been a heck of a show -- political theater at its best. The only that I see as comparable is Gary Hart.

And it is always best to get the pretenders out of the way before they start to mess with the rest of the field because you never know what a random element can do in a race like this.

But, we do need to be careful about picking too early because (1) we want to thoroughly vet these people and make sure they can stand up to what is coming and (2) the MSM will start to savage whoever we pick once it's clear that we have the nominee.

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, Let me clarify, I'm not saying he sabotaged himself intentionally. I think he intended to run a shallow campaign that didn't require much effort on his part and then drop out for some reason so he could go back to being a guru. I think the implosions have been entirely unexpected and he's probably pretty stunned by them at this point.

In terms of grabbing him by the shirt, yeah, that's my reaction -- "what the heck are you thinking?!!" Sitting with Pelosi, attacking Ryan, blowing $500k in an interest free probably corrupt loan from Tiffanies, blowing $500k on luxury airplane trips, taking a Greek vacation right after starting the campaign? Are you kidding me?!!!

patti said...

andrew: not a fan of newt's. he doesn't stand for personal responsibility and that alone marks him off my list. it be like rooting for weiner to stay, while casting a blind eye to his weakness. blech. i'm glad to hear of the implosion. one step closer to someone other than newt.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, There is a lot to that. He has occasionally spoken about personal responsibility, but boy has he not lived it. And I think a lot of people are completely turned off by his personal history.

To me, this is all part of a general lack of judgment. The personal history which shows no sense of loyalty or decency, the ethics issues that hit him, the utter lack of substance to his self-described "substantive campaign" and now this. All of this tells me he's not a man who should be trusted with much responsibility.

Ed said...

Andrew, I'll join the list of people who are happy to see this. I've never felt that Newt put conservatism above personal advancement and this rather proves that if he's using campaign donation to support his own comfort in a way that's hurt his campaign.

Ed said...

Also, I've never understood what people saw in Newt. Ok, the contract with America was a good idea but it wasn't all that original or unusual, and he managed to blow it within a couple years because he got arrogant almost immediately.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I get the feeling a lot of people are happy to see him gone. I was hoping he would at least hand out a few original ideas before he left, but so far that hasn't happened. Still, who knows? Now that it seems like his campaign is finished, maybe now is the time to swing for the fences with every good/bold idea he can think of.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I wouldn't go that far. I think Newt did a great job focusing the freshman Republicans giving them a solid ideological platform -- the party platforms are sadly useless. He did start to implode afterwards, but I don't think it was arrogance. In fact, I'd say it was the opposite -- insecurity. I think the problem was that once he had power, he wanted people to love him too and that led him to start making political mistakes which undercut his allies.

In fact, Michael Barone, who also says Newt's campaign is finished, says that his biggest flaw has always been how he would suddenly cut the legs out from under his allies so that he could work with his opponents. In other words, it's the couch sitting thing over and over again.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, in case anyone missed it, Perry went into major campaign mode today. He blasted Obama on various issues and even stared outlining campaign positions -- though not formally.

If I had to bet, I'd say 90% he jumps in soon.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I gave up on Newt way back when I found out he's a Tofflerite. I also think he suffers from some form of tourette syndrome. Only instead of shouting obscenities, he just makes crazy remarks and insults all his potential allies.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That would explain his strange outbursts. He has been positively brutal to his allies over the years. Indeed, the most common complaint against him for years was that he would come up with a plan and then go next door to a press conference and sell his allies out without telling anyone he intended to do this. That's why he had to face down a coupe attempt in the House and why he eventually found himself with no support when the ethics charges starting hitting.

LL said...

Newt's hubris always outran his skill sets.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I'm going to go with stupid/fraud on this one. He's trying to project an image of hard-core conservatism, while really being concerned with his Beltway status; and his manner of execution (so to speak) was really stupid. At this point, it's just kind of amusing that he's in the debate tonight at all.

And I won't be watching this one like I did the one on Fox News. I know, I'm falling down on the job.

T-Rav said...

Also, Bachmann has officially announced her run for President.

StanH said...

Newt was my congressman in the ‘80s, and have seen this guy go from a hero to a heel. When he had Reagan’s flank, and basically started televised Special Order Speeches from the, well of the House, pleading Reagan’s case, perhaps this makes me a wonk, but I used to sit and listen and cheer him on. The Contract for America was the culmination of a dozen years of good work. However, once he became Speaker, he lost his way. His gaffe was surprising and probably politically fatal, about Paul Ryan. And sitting on the couch with Pelosi while swearing allegiance to the religion or global warming hysteria, is very concerning. I could go on, I agree with your assessment, “Mr. Machiavelli is that you?” …Newt is a smart man, I’ll say that without equivocation, his credentials as a historian are beyond reproach, I believe he’s lost the fire, and will not make it far, probably a resume’ enhancer, I guess this makes me, “Son of Machiavelli…Ha!”

AndrewPrice said...

LL, That's true, and sadly that seems to be a common affliction for politicians!

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I agree with your assessment. He's trying to come across as the the conservative rebel, but he's really a big time insider at this point, and his whole campaign strategy has been horrible.

He did an ok job in the debate tonight, but I don't think anything is going to save him from his disastrous start.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I watched. I'm debating doing a round up -- though I can't post it until Thursday night. All in all, they did really well as a group. Cain came across kind of poor and Ron Paul is Ron Paul (Bachmann tripped over her thoughts a lot but not significantly), but I was genuinely pleased with the group.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I honestly don't understand what's gone wrong with him here. He knows better than this and he should have done a much better job... but he didn't. I just don't understand how he could make these kinds of mistakes unless he's really lost touch with the whole process or he was playing for some other prize?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

LL said...

"Newt's hubris always outran his skill sets."

I think that hubris is his skill set.

It wasn't always that way, as Stan points out but along the way Newt has not only lost touch with conservatives but with himself, too.

Sad to say it seems money n' power became more attractive than princlpes, integrity and humility (the good kind).

For the record, I don't think money n' power can corrupt people without the corruptee's willing cooperation.

Some politicians (albeit, not many) really can keep their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and place loyalty to like-minded friends and supporters above money n' power.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I think one of the biggest problems with politics is that it attracts people who either crave power for the sake of power or crave love/affirmation. Either craving will have horrible consequences for the politician, but they don't see that and they can't help themselves as they blunder around getting into deeper and deeper trouble.

I think Newt needed love. I think he needs to hear people tell him that he's brilliant and great and so much more than everyone else. What's more, he craved this the most from people who wouldn't give it to him. Thus, he was horrid to his friends and sycophantic with his enemies. And that led him to make a series of very bad judgment calls, both in his private and professional life, which blew up on him and wiped out whatever talent he might otherwise have.

I think Weiner is another example of someone like this, and now that's all blown up on his too.

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