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April 27, 2012 9:24 AM The Long Goodbye

By Ed Kilgore

I didn’t write yesterday about the reports that Newt Gingrich was going to shut down his campaign, since it hadn’t really happened yet, and I figured Newt would milk the final moment for all it was worth.

Sure enough, as Mark Leibovich of the New York Times reports, Gingrich is still roaming around North Carolina, pretending to be a presidential candidate just like he’s pretended to be president-in-waiting all these years since he was forced from the speakership:

One of the quirky indulgences of modern campaigns is that candidates announce their intent to run for president on multiple occasions — essentially, stunts to milk media attention. They announce the formation of exploratory committees, announce that they intend to run, announce that they are actually running, etc.
Ever the innovator, Mr. Gingrich has applied that ritual to quitting. While he has had no realistic chance of overtaking Mr. Romney for several weeks, he maintained until recently that he would stay in the race all the way to the Republican National Convention.
But at some point, Mr. Gingrich started referring to the race in the past tense. He shed nearly all of his staff. He pinned his hopes on Tuesday’s primary in tiny Delaware, saying that he would reassess if he lost — which he did, by almost 30 points.
On Wednesday, Mr. Gingrich indicated that he would suspend the campaign next week with a speech. He will offer some form of official endorsement of Mr. Romney.
A familiar analogy is to the Japanese soldiers who turned up in remote areas long after August 1945 and had no idea that World War II had ended. But Mr. Gingrich knows his war is over, and while not exactly fighting, he is not surrendering yet, either. His wife, Callista, was appearing at events nearby.

It must be weird for regular folks to run into Newt or Callista right now. What do you say to them? “Thanks for the memories?” “Have you had to hock the jewelry yet?” “Please go away?” “Can I call your care-giver for you?” “Is that a Secret Service agent with you, and am I paying for that?”

Leibovich offered a vignette from a custom racing car factory that Gingrich was visiting for no obvious reason:

“This is absolutely astonishing,” he said, transfixed while caressing a gray engine block in a prototyping lab. He walked slowly across a factory floor that resembled one of those blinding white rooms in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The place was largely vacant, as many employees had decamped to Brazil for a big race this weekend.
Mr. Gingrich gave a thumbs-up to a guy driving by on a maintenance cart and popped his head into an office. “Hi, I’m Newt,” he said to the startled occupant, Felicia Thomas. “I know who you are,” she said.
He lingered, in no rush at all.

Leibovich probably used the stranded-Japanese-soldier-fighting-on analogy because zombie metaphors are just too obvious as he watches Newt shamble along with no particular place to go. At some point, even if Gingrich doesn’t get around to officially announcing the end of his campaign, the Secret Service protection will be pulled, and we’ll all forget about him until he figures out a new way to give us one more chance to regard him as our Churchill.

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

  • Skip on April 27, 2012 9:30 AM:

    Good-bye...again...Newt.

  • stevio on April 27, 2012 9:35 AM:

    Good riddance...again...NitWit

  • Rich on April 27, 2012 9:38 AM:

    He's not so much like Churchill or a Japanese soldier on some obscure atoll. He's more like a more emboldened version of Gus Hall 9and frankly the modern GOP isn't so different in structure from the Communist Party) or an arrogant version of Harold Stassen. Stassen, at least, was in on the joke during his last runs and mostly seemed to enjoy his Stassenettes.

  • c u n d gulag on April 27, 2012 9:57 AM:

    "What do you say to them?"

    To Newt, how about, "You keep going, but you never leave. So, leave already! And don't let the door slap you on your rather ample buttcheeks on the way out."

    And to Callista, "No, please don't try to crack a smile. It's not that we'll know you'll obviously be faking it, it's that we don't need to pick up the million little pieces that will fall off after all of the plastic surgery you've."

  • Ron Byers on April 27, 2012 10:06 AM:

    Early in the campaign my brother, the Republican, attended a Gingrich fundraiser at the old Kennedy compound in Palm Beach (now owned by a rich Republican.) By the time Newt and Callista arrived the host and one of the compound's long time employees were showing the guests around the grounds, reliving Kennedy family stories, mostly concerning JFK. Newt and Callista fell into the tour and wandered around the grounds with the other guests. My brother later told me that the tour was worth the price of the ticket. He didn't say much about Newt except that Newt clearly enjoyed the tour as well. That tour was probably as close as Newt will ever again be to the Presidency.

  • MuddyLee on April 27, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Has anybody considered involuntary commitment to a government run mental hospital for Newt? Or since he was in North Carolina, how about a CITIZEN'S ARREST a la Barney Fife? Just in case whatever ego disease Newt has is communicable....

  • researcher on April 27, 2012 11:42 AM:

    Greetings.
    Goodbye to Gingrich and the comedy that was his campaign. Such a dramatic ego.

    Here's a new and fabulous campaign video from the president:


    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/04/27/1086884/-New-Obama-campaign-video-highlights-decision-to-launch-bin-Laden-raid

  • T2 on April 27, 2012 12:13 PM:

    How bad, how sorry is today's Republican Party? Newt Gingrich, who was literally thrown out of Congress by the Republican Party almost 2 decades ago, was one of the final three contestants for the party's nomination this year. And actually LED in polls for several weeks. And actually WON a primary or two. The only Democratic equivalent I can think of is if Joe LIEberman ran for the Dem nomination in 2016 and actually led for a period of time and won a few primaries.

  • stinger on April 27, 2012 1:10 PM:

    gulag: Nice to see your comment. So sorry to hear about your loss. Hang in there.

  • Anonymous on April 27, 2012 1:32 PM:

    The problem is that Newt started the whole thing as a book tour, but then, for one brief, shining moment, he became the front-runner.

    At that point, cynical just-in-it-for-the-money Newt was overcome by manifest-destiny Newt, who really believed that he was going to win the Presidency or at least have a glorious defeat with Newt standing alone against the liberal horde at some Thermopylae he had constructed in his head.

    As money Newt sadly re-asserts himself, he'll be figuring out how to milk this thing for all it's worth. He probably pushed it too far - if he'd quit earlier, he would have had more leverage - but he will almost certainly have books coming out, get a foundation gig, and get back on TV as a paid commentator.

  • c u n d gulag on April 27, 2012 1:48 PM:

    stinger,
    Thanks.
    It's been a tough week - to say the least...