Here Ends The Lecture
– by David Matthews 2
GOP Presidential wannabe Newt Gingrich finally accepted reality the other week and shut down his campaign to become the next President of the United States.
Normally such news is not worth doing a full column on. Very little was said about Rick Santorum’s departure, and he was considered the closest competition to front-runner Mitt Romney, having actually pulled out multiple victories in several state primaries and caucuses. Likewise, little was said about some of the other wannabe and never-can-be contenders. Governor Rick Perry and Congresswoman Michelle Bachman each fell by the wayside quickly and with almost no fanfare. The dragging down of businessman Herman Cain during the holiday season certainly should have warranted some mention, since it amounted to nothing short of a political and media lynching.
Likewise, the media silence of Ron Paul’s continued campaign speaks volume about the ongoing bigotry that has existed about libertarians and libertarian-leaning politicians. How damnably hypocritical that a clear alternative to the “status quo” is mocked, ridiculed, and even rejected outright, without giving it the opportunity to present its case to the public.
But let’s get back to Mr. Gingrich, because that’s what he would like people to focus on anyway.
Gingrich’s “farewell” speech wasn’t so much an acknowledgement of defeat as it was a lecture to the American people, and the primary and caucus voters in particular, for supposedly choosing the wrong candidate to lead the GOP in November.
“Today, I am suspending the campaign,” he said in his usual condescending tone, “but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship…”
I’m sorry, but did anyone suggest, or even infer, that Gingrich was giving up being an American for acknowledging defeat? Was there some sort of unwritten rule in the GOP handbook that we don’t know about that said that if you back out of the campaign that you have surrender your passport and move to Dubai or Beijing and give up being an American citizen? Actually that sounds like a rather interesting idea. Certainly would make the race for the White House that much more of a challenge and weed out a lot of the wannabes.
Most likely, the ex-Speaker of the House was simply serving notice that his retreat was not going to follow the path set by Richard Nixon after his failed run for Governor of California in the early 1960’s. We could only be so fortunate if we wouldn’t have Gingrich to “kick around anymore”! Then again, Nixon found it hard to really stay out of the limelight as well.
No, Gingrich does not want to go away, quietly or otherwise. He loves the attention. Who wouldn’t?
And it’s not like he would be the first lingering candidate either. Sarah Palin has certainly demonstrated that there’s plenty of media shelf-life after losing an election. In fact, she couldn’t even wait for her term as Alaska’s Governor to end before, as sports writers describe it, she went “all-pro”.
But one has to give credit to Pat Buchanan for accepting failure with dignity. Maybe it’s because he did it frequently, but at least when Buchanan conceded, he didn’t lecture the voters about their choices. He congratulated the winner, said his peace, and then went back to his normal job of being a political curmudgeon on TV.
Maybe that’s too much to ask for with some of today’s presidential wannabes. Maybe they really just cannot accept defeat.
Certainly Gingrich did not want to leave the race. Even when his senior advisors left him in 2011, he refused to admit defeat. Even after losing state after state after state, he believed that somehow he would still win.
Perhaps the most telling part of how Gingrich treated the whole campaign came in the days before his announced departure. Even after coming in dead last in five states and his own people were publicly confirming that Gingrich was going to announce that he was suspending his campaign, Gingrich himself was complaining about Romney carrying on as though he was the “presumptive nominee”. He considered it “insulting” to have either Romney or the media carry on as though the primary and caucus processes were over with. “They deserve some respect,” he said of the voters that he had not yet formally discarded.
Bear in mind that it was no big secret that Gingrich was going to suspend his campaign at that point. It was long overdue. He was out of Super-PAC money. He was coming in dead last on elections. And yet here he was still going through the motions, pretending that there was still a chance for him to win.
Let’s get brutally honest here… Newt Gingrich ended his campaign neither with a bang nor a whimper, but with a condescending lecture. At times he sounded like he was wrapping up a seminar of political science instead of running for the highest office in America.
Now for purposes of full disclosure, I should note that I do a regular segment on ShockNet Radio where I provide historical information while pretending to be a stuffy college professor. But in that particular instance, the audience knows full-well that I am playing a character. I don’t claim to be an actual professor, nor do I claim to be an actual expert on history. Gingrich, on the other hand, really believes that he is such.
Sure, Gingrich loved to talk about big ideas… like his dream of somehow ending up with $2-per-gallon gas, and putting up American colonies on the Moon. But then he’d suggest that maybe children should clean their own school toilets to save on paying for janitors. And while he claimed that he would have never supported the bailout for “Too Big To Fail”, he quickly skirted around his connection to Freddie Mac that helped to create the 2008 October Surprise, and then said that he probably would have ended up voting for the bailout anyway.
Perhaps one of the most blatant examples of hypocrisy in Gingrich’s campaign is that while he complained about government spending, he ends his quest for the White House with over four million dollars in debt! One would think that if you were to claim credit for the first balanced federal budget in thirty years, and that you were to complain about other people wasting taxpayer money, that you would also have a better mastery of your own campaign finances. While Gingrich would not be the only candidate to wrap up his campaign in the red, it certainly does not help his credibility to not live up to his own hype.
Then again, such is the contradiction that is Newt Gingrich. The same man that reportedly told his then-future ex-wife “It doesn't matter what I do… People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live.” This is the man that wanted to be President.
While his non-concession concession speech ends Gingrich’s quest for the White House this time around, we clearly will not be hearing the last of him. No doubt he will go right back to his special interest groups and to his cushy “contributor” position on FoxNews. He will, no doubt, call up his talk radio friends Sean Hannity and Neal Boortz to continue his lecturing of the American people about how screwed up things are, write a few more books, and probably even throw his support behind Mitt Romney… the very man that he claimed was a “Massachusetts liberal” and once described as “Obama-Lite”.
Or perhaps we all misread his intentions. Maybe Gingrich borrowed a page from Captain Yossarian’s logic in “Catch-22” and didn’t really back out of the campaign. Maybe he just announced his early candidacy for the 2016 Elections. That would fit right in with Gingrich’s apparent mastery of Political Crazy.