The Nincompoop Nominee

By Begala, Paul | Newsweek, November 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Nincompoop Nominee


Begala, Paul, Newsweek


Byline: Paul Begala

What's next? The Santorum Surge? The Huntsman Hiccup? Why Newt Gingrich would be a godsend to the Democrats.

What are we to make of the ascension of Newt Gingrich?

Perhaps the day has finally, belatedly, blessedly arrived when the Republican Party has found the transformational, revolutionary figure it's been pining for. Perhaps the GOP has awoken to the charm that was always there: the constant use of "frankly," the know-it-all historical references, the grandiosity, the bombast. Perhaps Republicans have found the fresh face they feel they need--in a 68-year-old man who first ran for Congress in the Nixon administration.

Or perhaps not.

More likely the Gingrich surge is just the latest Republican tulip craze (count the pedantic historical references I use in Newt's honor!)--with Newt simply serving as the latest vessel for the ABR movement: Anybody But Romney.

Mitt Romney has been running for president nonstop for about five years now. And he has gone from 25 percent in the 2007 Iowa caucuses to 18 percent in the latest Bloomberg poll of Iowa voters. He's the Harold Stassen of 2012. Face it, Mitt: they're just not that into you.

Republicans, apparently, will date anyone before they'll marry Mitt. Remember their brief fling with Donald Trump? Then, after he decided not to throw his hair into the ring, they fell for Michele Bachmann, the Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya of the far right. Then it was Rick Perry--the guy who claims he jogs with a loaded gun (without a safety) tucked into his shorts. And now that they've tired of Herman Cain's, umm, hands-on style of leadership, it's Newt's turn.

And so, like MacArthur, Newt has returned. I, for one, could not be happier--but then again, I'm a Democrat, so I have to take my political pleasures where I can find them. I seriously doubt Newt will be the GOP nominee. But a guy can dream, can't he?

Maybe Newt can be the Tea Party's Baron von Steuben, disciplining a ragtag insurgency. Newt could go down in history as having contributed crucially to reelecting two Democratic presidents. …

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