Monday, December 19, 2011

Never Underestimate The Power of The GOP Establishment

Liberals and progressives can no longer rejoice at the prospect of Newt Gingrich gaining the Republican nomination. It it is fading fast and looks more unlikely by the day. When I replied to Chris Matthews's panic attack warning progressives to "be careful what (we) wish for," I also cautioned that Gingrich becoming the GOP nominee is "still uncertain — never underestimate the power of the GOP establishment."

Sure enough, Gingrich's meteoric rise is sputtering in the face of withering fire from establishmentarians, including the Beltway Media, and his opponents in the race. Last week Rachel Maddow held up the WaPo Op-Ed page which was plastered top to bottom with anti-Gingrich testimonials, from libertarian types like Dana Milbank to establishment conservative Kathleen Parker. They're all resting easier today, together with fake progressive channel/Beltway Media avatar, Chris Matthews. Why he believed Gingrich could win remains a mystery: "Relax, Chris," I wrote. "Newt Gingrich is unelectable. If nominated, he will be defeated in a landslide by President Obama."

The right wing National Review slammed the panic button most vehemently on the same point, from the right: "We fear that to nominate former Speaker Newt Gingrich, the front-runner in the polls, would be to blow this opportunity" to defeat President Obama. Rich Lowry's rag diagnosed Newt with a bit of amusing Lowry-Mama Grizzly projection: "Gingrich has always said he wants to transform the country. He appears unable to transform, or even govern, himself." However self-serving, the point is well taken. There is a difference between Lowry fingering his zipper and Newt fingering the nuclear button.

The ground and air attacks are sticking to Newt big time and his unconventional approach to campaigning is apparently failing, as we hear a collective sigh of relief from political strategists everywhere: "The conventional rules of politics still apply," one said defiantly. Two weeks out, Gingrich has spent little time or money in Iowa, has no ground game to speak of, and is dragging around his heavy "baggage"— the one word Iowans recall when Newt's name comes up — in the vain hope his opponents will refrain from saying bad things about him because, well, he's promised to be good.

The candidate himself is ultimately responsible for his slo-mo self-destruction. Making his wife Callista de facto campaign manager, holding book signings rather than campaign rallies, failing to build organization in primary states, bespeaks of a campaign that isn't serious or committed, except to the fool's notion that Newt's massive ego and misestimation of his political powers are enough to overcome the traditional rules of politics and campaigning. It's one thing to say the candidate can live off the land. But it's a different thing when the land is scorched and barren as his opposition recreate the political equivalent of General Sherman's scorched earth march of destruction through Georgia which, ironically enough, is the state that Newt represented in Congress.

One poll has Newt's "positives" at negative ONE. Ouch.  Here's a pictorial of the state of the Iowa caucus as it stands today ... It's really all you need to know:

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