There is no Fountain of Youth in Florida. Newt Gingrich acts as old as his 68 years, turning in weary, sub-par debate performances, getting cranky with the reporters in his train, insisting he’s not going to drop out of the race regardless of what happens in Florida.
When they start insisting they’re not going to drop out of the race, you know they’ve been seriously talking about dropping out of the race.
The numbers: They’re tanking. Mr. Gingrich is down to Romney by over 10 points in the latest polls. Ten percent of the vote is already in, mail-in ballots sent when Romney was leading by almost 25 points. On Tuesday, primary day, Mr. Gingrich will begin a 40,000-vote underdog.
It’s all breaking bad for Newt Gingrich. He got the Herman Cain endorsement; following hard on the heels of the Todd Palin (dude!) endorsement, and the Sarah Palin just-short-of-an endorsement (the former Wasilla, Alaska, mayor has commitment issues). (We are following the burgeoning journalistic trend of referring to Mayor Palin with the title of the most recent job she did not abruptly quit in the middle). We call this endorsement trio the "triumvirate of doom" in political endorsement land. We await the George W. Bush endorsement, permanently sealing Mr. Gingrich’s fate.
Accompanying the poor debate performances, his moon-base insanity almost sealed his fate. Mr. Control the Budget wants a permanent moon colony by the end of his second term. He says it’s dreaming big. We say it's madness. And we say this as, we must admit, a long-time science fiction nerdy type who thinks a permanent moon-base would be not only awesome but, eventually, inevitable. We also know that the technology for it is nowhere near reality at the present, and that a plausible time-frame would be 80 years from now, not eight. The trillions of dollars it would cost, and the mobilization of the entire planet’s brain trust and resources, to do it in eight years is, in a word, impossible. As in Ain’t Gonna Happen. It’s Newt telling unemployed and under-employed space workers on Florida’s Space Coast what stuff he thinks they like to hear.
Finally, Mr. Gingrich’s very lame television commercials permanently sank his ship. The health care ads were the most visible, and the most ineffective. First off, he began the most prominent commercial with a sepia-tinted profile shot of Mr. Romney, trying to make him look scary. Count Dracula-like. We hate to point it out to the Romney camp, but the shot was the first time in this campaign that Mr. Romney has actually looked kind of cool. The commercial devolved into the typical attack line from the right wing, that Mr. Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan is pure evil, that it’s like President Obama’s health care plan, which is even more purely evil. Etc.
Really. Dear Right Wing Tea Partiers: Nobody is all that angry about health care plans. Truly. Neither Mr. Romney’s nor Mr. Obama’s. We don’t care, the undecided voters don’t care, and frankly, you don’t care. (We are reminded of the line from noted atheist Penn Jillette, who said – paraphrasing here – that he was such an atheist that not only did he not believe in god, he also didn’t believe that anybody else really believed in god, either.)
We don’t believe anybody on the right is all that upset about health care. It’s the Thing they’ve latched themselves to, like pissed-off little limpets who had to find something to grab hold of. This is what they’ve got to work with, so they try to get themselves all het up about it. If it weren’t health care it would be something else. They can’t stand there and scream that they hate President Obama JUST BECAUSE. They need an issue. This is it. And nobody cares.
Their anger is free-floating, personal. If it is attached to anything it is attached to the man: his foreignness (to them), his color, his brains, his ability to skewer whoever they put up against him. They can’t understand how a guy with a middle name of Hussein can be President of the United States. None of their friends can understand it, either. Their anger is not about issues or events. If they were event-oriented people, they would have been angry at the last president. They would have been angry at the incompetent fool who allowed New York City to get blown up. They would have been angry at the manipulators of the truth who lied through their teeth to drum up a pre-emptive war in Iraq, slaughtering thousands along the way just ‘cuz. The worst decisions by a president of the last hundred years occurred on the Bush watch. Where was the ire of the Good People of the Right Wing? Where was the shrillness as he wasted the Clinton budget surplus and ran up record deficits? Nah, no ire. No shrill. He was a good old boy. He talked like a good old boy. Mr. Yale Man rich kid elite snob SOB, but all he has to do is dumb down the speech patterns to Texas Moron and all the right wing lemmings loved him.
Now they howl, writhe, froth at the mouth in worked-up outrage at "health care." They don’t care, and beating that drum was a misstep by the Gingrich camp.
His day will soon be finished, and he will slouch back to the land of K Street lobbying, right wing punditry, golf with Donald Trump and indulging at random whichever of the Deadly Sins rears its temporary head. After Tuesday, Mr. Gingrich, we suspect we will be bidding you adieu.