Mitt Romney continues to push the envelope of free speech, on Friday essentially shouting "You’re fired!" in the midst of the imploded economy we call Nevada. In short – he accepted the endorsement of Donald Trump, whose good will he seems to care about very much, considerably more than he cares about the good will of "the very poor." Of whom he cares about not at all, or so he claims for the nonce.
He and wife Ann stood with the wannabe kingmaker, faces frozen at the antics of the surreal pasha of personal promotion. (Though Ann’s rictus grin slipped for a moment when Trump handed off the microphone to Mr. Romney and moved behind her. We are certain we saw her jump abruptly and grimace. Precisely why we will not speculate.)
Newt Gingrich also cared very much about receiving the Trump Stamp. (We search for a graceful way to make a "tramp stamp" pun somewhere in here but can’t seem to make it fly. Ah well. The reach must always exceed the grasp.) He, and much of cyberspace, assumed he would get it. Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Trump have seemed at times best of buds. The former speaker is a member of Mr. Trump’s exclusive Northern Virginia golf club. Mr. Gingrich was first to agree to the Trump-moderated GOP debate that never happened, as none of the other candidates were much on board with the idea. Mr. Trump has denigrated Mr. Romney repeatedly in the past.
But Mr. Trump backed the presumptive nominee (and presumably will try to take credit for Mr. Romney’s almost certain win). Mr. Gingrich did not handle it well. His campaign immediately fired off a spiteful letter to the Florida Republican Party, insisting they change the rules after the fact to allot their delegates proportionally. Grrrr.
Really, Mr. Gingrich, you have only yourself to blame. The Donald would have backed you, were you poised to all but lock up the nomination. You had a chance at it, too. Had you not abandoned your sole successful line of attack, we are certain you would now be in the catbird seat.
Mr. Gingrich won big in South Carolina. At the time he was running ads castigating Mr. Romney on the most effective terrain: Bain Capital, tax returns, Cayman Islands accounts. To repeat: Bain Capital, tax returns, Cayman Islands accounts. It was working. Big time.
Then, abruptly, something happened. Powerful Republicans cried foul, made criticism of vulture capitalism and shady offshore tax dodges off-limits, and Mr. Gingrich acquiesced. He returned to the theme of which no one cares a whit: health care. Romneycare = Obamacare = Whatever.
Honestly, nobody cares about the health care thing. Nobody. As in, for God’s sake, nobody. As we have pointed out in previous writings, the right wing has attached its flatulent wind-bag of hatred onto whatever issue it can dredge up – which alternates between "Obamacare" and "budget deficit" – and pretends to have an issue it's angry about. Right-wingers are not angry about any issue. They’re angry at President Obama personally: He doesn’t look right to them. His middle name is "Hussein." End of story.
Mr. Romney is vulnerable on his shady finances. Just say the words to him. Say, "Tax Return." He stutters and haws and hems and flails his arms about like that robot on the old "Lost in Space’ show. Say "Cayman Islands" and he almost rolls on the floor kicking his feet in the air and rants about how very very hard he was worked for everything he has.
That line of attack worked. Mr. Gingrich had a real shot at this thing. Not anymore. And now he stands alone, abandoned even by the one man on this planet who is his equal at combining that uniquely Republican mix of arrogance and ignorance: The Donald anoints Mittens. Newt – and perhaps even Ann – weeps.