The Super Tuesday primaries are make-or-break time for Newt Gingrich. He will probably go bust and go bye, but should he pull off a win or two during the 10-state extravaganza his campaign will receive a boost of life support – and maybe even a little press.
Press is one thing Mr. Gingrich has not received much of recently, and we feel we have a good idea why. To reduce it to the basics: His incessant castigation of members of the press most likely has something to do with the lack of coverage. Imagine that.
Back during the Florida primary Mr. Gingrich made the "liberal media elite" Public Enemy No. 1 in his attempt to woo the calcified right wing of his party. It is a truism among those folks that the press has "got it in for us," with Them Evil Journalists regularly asking such unfair and below-the-belt questions of GOP politicians as "What magazines do you read?" and "Is it true the National Restaurant Association paid out monies to women who made sexual harassment claims against you?" Despicable. Despicable, I say. That’s how the righties look at it, anyway.
Mr. Gingrich scored a few cheap points with the know-nothing crowd by castigating the press, kicking them off his campaign plane, masterfully and snarkily putting them down during his press conference after his Florida defeat, generally making life miserable for them. A few troglodyte supporters loved it, with the general refrain being, "Ha, shows them smartie-farties – who needs them, anyway?"
Remarkable how Gingrich news coverage has plummeted recently.
Free advice to politicians, especially those low on money: You really need all the free press you can get. You get less of it by constantly attacking the press. Believe it or not.
Is there anything about that truism that’s complicated?
The latest post to buckle in the Gingrich tent is the cancellation of the March 1 CNN debate in his home state of Georgia. Gingrich really needs to win Georgia, the only state where he is currently leading by a substantial margin. His poll numbers there have been dropping, from a 20-point lead a month ago to a 14-point lead two weeks ago to a 9-point lead last night. Mitt Romney and Ron Paul declined to attend the debate, citing scheduling conflicts during the busy pre-Super Tuesday days, and Rick Santorum quickly followed suit. We suspect an awareness that the Georgia crowd would be predominantly pro-Gingrich has more to do with the candidates’ decision than any sort of scheduling conflict – a positive debate performance there could resuscitate Mr. Gingrich’s campaign. (This gamesmanship by the Romney camp might be a mistake for him. He frankly needs Mr. Gingrich in the race, pulling votes from Mr. Santorum. Mr. Romney is showing that he is not much shrewder than Mr. Gingrich at Grand Strategy. Kudos by the way to Mr. Santorum, who is moving into frontrunner status while working with very little money – if he can stay smart and not let the recent cash infusions go to his head he has a real shot at winning this primary.)
Deprived of further oxygen – free debates and free press – we suspect that Moon Base Gingrich will not function much longer. We assume he had fun while it lasted. We would miss him, but we have heard his voice and seen his face so little recently that we have a hard time remembering any telling features about him...just a plump, space-suited figure in the distance, floating away...cut loose from Alpha Base One, untethered to any life support, receding distantly toward the stars.