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March 29, 2012 4:18 PM The Next Harold Stassen?

By Ed Kilgore

It’s becoming apparent that the farewells to Newt Gingrich as a presidential candidate—somewhat forced, since he shows no signs of admitting defeat—will be more entertaining than coverage of his campaign. Here’s a gem from The Economist’s Democracy in America blog (forgive the length, but it’s worth it):

Last summer, Mr Gingrich fundamentally transformed the nature of modern political campaigning. How did he do that? By asking for money over the internet. You might think that’s nothing new; plenty of small businesses prefer low-overhead online sales to brick-and-mortar shops, particularly if, like Mr Gingrich, they already have a brand. And you might remember that a certain senator from Illinois proved pretty adroit at capturing online donations and using social media to organise campaign volunteers. But those people were not fundamental, radical change-agents like Mr Gingrich. You might also suspect that he moved his campaign online because it was cheaper. His campaign was $1m in debt, and his staff had resigned en masse, frustrated that Mr Gingrich and his wife Callista seemed to prefer plush cruises through southern Europe to actually campaigning for the presidency. If so, you might be a member of the elite, bent on cynically wrecking the campaign of the most brilliant leader American has never had. To Mr Gingrich, getting online donations was nothing short of earth-shattering. As Politico reported, Mr Gingrich “boasted that he was inventing a revolutionary new model of campaigning” by asking for money online. “I told somebody at one point, ‘This is like watching Walton or Kroc develop Walmart and McDonald’s.’” The real problem was not that he was a profoundly unserious and undisciplined candidate; the problem, as he was only too happy to explain, was that, “Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.”

As the Economist blogger subsequently noted, Newt’s refusal to leave the race and his demand for a candidate debate at the convention itself may reflect his belief that Republicans should generously be offered one more opportunity to absorb his brilliance and reconsider one last chance to nominate a new Reagan or Thatcher. Or maybe he just enjoys hearing himself talk so much that he can’t help but share. It wouldn’t surprise me if he became the new Harold Stassen, just perpetually campaigning for president until dotage overtakes him, oblivious to the growing mockery. After all, greatness is its own justification.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Tom Hilton on March 29, 2012 4:42 PM:

    This is kind of unfair to the memory of Harold Stassen, who in his day was actually one of the really sane and decent voices in the Republican party.

  • SteveT on March 29, 2012 4:47 PM:

    "To Mr Gingrich, getting online donations was nothing short of earth-shattering."

    It certainly was game changing.

    Gingrich went from keeping mistresses to finding a sugar-daddy and being a, umm . . . kept gentleman.

  • Rich on March 29, 2012 4:52 PM:

    Stassen wasn't trying to sell books and ultimately seemed to get the joke of his candidacy. he simply liked the attention. Newt wants more and without his phony runs for office, he could never make a living.

  • skeptonomist on March 29, 2012 5:01 PM:

    Newt invented campaigning on the Internet? Another phony claim swallowed by at least one reporter who apparently knew almost nothing about the Internet. There's apparently a sucker for Newt in the media born every minute.

  • Hedda Peraz on March 29, 2012 5:13 PM:

    I did not read it. The font is too small, and the type is not dark enough.
    Note to WAMO: electrons, unlike ink and paper, are NOT priced by size.
    Besides, some of us are old. . .

  • Lifelong Dem on March 29, 2012 5:23 PM:

    I'd heard this bullshit earlier from the believe-whatever-Gingrich-bloviates crowd. They're the ones who still believe tht Gingrich has Great Ideas. Jeebus. Obama blew the political world apart in 08 with OFA's online operation. Gingrich copied it but still needed his sugar daddy.

    Captcha nails it: rixpac sanctified, indeed!

  • AmusedOldVet on March 29, 2012 5:32 PM:

    Don't be so hard on Newt, Mr. Kilgore!

    Let the book tour continue!

  • Geoff G on March 29, 2012 6:33 PM:

    Laugh all you want. Newt has discovered a way to piss standing up. From the deepest reaches of time, man has stood before the urinal asking "How the hell am I supposed to sit on this thing?" Newt Gingrich, "Definer Of Civilization's Rules And Leader (Perhaps) Of The Civilizing Forces," however, was not satisfied with useless bitching, he sought a solution. (Start taking notes now) He noticed that both his trousers and his underwear had little slits, the former covered by a zipper, the latter a sort of cloth flap. By pulling down on the zipper, Newt was able to expose the slit in his undies. He then opened the slit, finding "Little Newt" inside, itching (so to speak) to come out and pee.

    The rest, as they say, is the biggest thing in history since Newt invented writing. A little wiggle, a little dance (called "giving Newtie a shake" in his honor) and his business was done. All that was left was to put the master-blaster back in its spot and pull the zipper northward. (Be extra careful with this last maneuver, as tragedy has erupted when lesser men, if you know what I mean, and I think you do, have attempted it.)

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you define civilization and (perhaps) lead the civilizing forces.

  • Doug on March 29, 2012 6:56 PM:

    Pathetic, actually.
    Gingrish has either slipped into senility and now believes the argle-bargle he spouts or, worse still, he's completely willing to completely destroy his party's electoral chances solely to feed his own ego.
    How...Republican of him!

  • ajay on March 30, 2012 5:38 AM:

    "I did not read it. The font is too small, and the type is not dark enough.
    Note to WAMO: electrons, unlike ink and paper, are NOT priced by size.
    Besides, some of us are old. . ."

    Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard and hit the + key to expand the size of the text in your browser.


    On the substantive point: when you basically believe yourself to be Churchill, spending several years in the wilderness after a couple of very public and embarrassing failures in government is not a bug, it's a feature.

  • MuddyLee on March 30, 2012 7:41 AM:

    Palin "sort of" endorsed Newt in the SC primary. To me this means that Newt, ipso facto, is not qualified to govern - just like Nikki Haley. (Is that the right use of "ipso facto"?)

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