THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

We can always count on the mainstream media to ask the tough questions, like: "What's behind Gingrich's jump in the polls?"

Read the paragraphs of pseudo-analysis offered by a laundry list of hangers-on and campaign hacks if you want, or stick around here while we wallow in the bleedingly obvious. Gingrich is "on the rise" (based on a single poll) because the desperate search for anyone who is not Mitt Romney continues among the GOP inner circle and voting base. With Iowa six weeks away, the odds of a new Savior joining the field are essentially nil. The Bachmann carnival freakshow had its 15 minutes over the summer. Perry rode over the hill on a white stallion and leaves as a laughingstock. Things got so desperate that, at least for a short while, the GOP appeared to consider the black guy.

What alternatives remain? It's basically down to Gingrich, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, or Rick Santorum. Gingrich is basically a bridge troll with name recognition. Paul is way too far out there for the GOP insiders and has less charisma and fewer camera skills than any politician since Barry Goldwater. Huntsman is an apostate. It's continually surprising to be reminded that Santorum is still in the race. It makes all the sense in the world that Republicans being polled would choose the one name they know as something other than an abject failure (which, coincidentally enough, Gingrich is in every sense of the word) from the list if they're desperate to avoid Mittens.

Of course, the fact that Romney's eventual nomination seems all but inevitable is bad news for the networks, who very much want the appearance of a nail biter of a race. Let's face it: somebody needs to be the Romney alternative, and Gingrich stands as good of a chance as any of going the next six weeks without dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. Then again, that turned out to be too much to ask of Bachmann, Perry, and Cain.

So while Gingrich's "surge" seems like the kind of thing that would have a shelf life measured in hours, the reality is that he is probably going to stick around for lack of a viable alternative Romney alternative.

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28 Responses to “THE TOUGH QUESTIONS”

  1. Xynzee Says:

    I wonder if the GOP is feeling that same impending sense of gloom we felt with Mondale and Dukakis? Unfortunately, the Dems sucked at standing up to St. Ronnie and let him everything he wanted.

  2. FMguru Says:

    The only interesting thing about the Gingrich 'surge' is that it demonstrates just how much the rank-and-file of the Republican party wants someone, anyone other than Romney. That's really bad news for them heading into 2012. The GOP got stuck with a default candidate who outlasted all the others in 2008 (McCain) and he was a disaster at the polls. A large percentage of those red meat chewing Teabaggers are going to look at being stuck with Milquetoast Mitt as their tribune, say "fuck this", and stay home, or at least consume valuable campaign resources to get out to vote that should be spent on independents and swing voters.

    2012 is an entirely winnable election for the R's (the incumbent has presided over near-double digit unemployment for the entirety of his term with no end in sight, and his policy has been driven by a desperate need to demonstrate his reasonableness and moderation by pissing all over his actual supporters) and it looks like they're going to throw it away, just like they threw away several winnable Senate seats in 2010. Amazing.

  3. Eric Titus Says:

    Gingrich really has no shot. It's going to come down to Romney and the best other candidate in Iowa.

    FMguru gives cause for optimism. Much as I dislike Obama, I realize that a R president wouldn't even need congressional approval to make sure the EPA, DoEd, NLRB, etc never do anything productive again. The problem the Democrats have, though, is that the Republicans didn't "throw away" winnable seats–they became the part of principle and change. Certainly the principles and change they propose are horrifying, but the Democrats can't do a thing with the congressional gridlock. Even if they could, chances are they would simply pass one or two token measures and act like everything is going to be fine a year down the road. If change is going to come through the democratic party–and I'm not sure that it will–we may need to be prepared to lose a seat of two in 2012 as well.

  4. ConcernedCitizen Says:

    I, for one, think this coming election will have considerable historical significance; it will mark the lowest point yet in presidential voter turnout. I'm guessing the president, whoever he turns out to be, will have the express support of less than 24% of the voting age population.

  5. Mackeyser Says:

    Brewster's Millions.

    President Obama had both houses and tons of political capital. He spoke to a certain place and governed from an entirely different place. He campaigned as a moderate progressive and is governing as a moderate conservative.

    He's gotten some things done, but capitulated on the big things we needed him to stand up on.

    I dunno about 2012 because while Romney will have tepid Tea Party support, President Obama will have tepid progressive support. He has a record of mediocre environmental support and Constitutional support. Habeas Corpus is still not really there. Gitmo is still open. Extraordinary Rendition? Still happening AND supported as necessary.

    So, while the GOP field disintegrates, it's hard for me to enjoy with much schadenfreude because the Pres has already done that based on his record over the past few years. Couple that with voter suppression efforts and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Mitt Romney win. Not because he'd be better than Obama. I think he'd be a disaster. But when you abandon your base like Obama did… repeatedly, and embrace Wall Street and appoint guys like Larry Summers and Tim Geitner to key positions, I can just see the growing OWS movement disavow them both.

    That hurts the President.

    Frankly, I dunno that it matters if the rest of the debates devolve into fist fights or if the candidates each take turns making major, major gaffes.

    Ultimately, it'll be an R against the President. There will be a certain amount against the President. Likely that will be Romney and that number will be suppressed due to his flip-flopping on every issue ever. But will there be enough people showing up FOR the President? It took record crowds AND a depressed turnout for McCain to elect Obama. Does he get re-elected with "meh"?

    I have my doubts…Even if he's up against Gingrich… I have my doubts…

  6. eau Says:

    Stop it, @Mackeyser, you're scaring me.

  7. Middle Seaman Says:

    The circus is in town. If you add Obama to the Republican freak show, where he belongs, the clowns make you bawl uncontrollably. Mondale was a capable and decent guy. Dukakis signaled the continuation of the Democratic freak show that started with Carter, went on to Kerry and now is at Obama. (Puke).

    Obama will win easily over Mitt the New Englander from La Jolla, California were houses start at 8 figures. But then he will have to rely on WS because the unions are not going to exert themselves over a guy who showed them the finger.

  8. c u n d gulag Says:

    And there by his phone, waiting for it to ring, sits Lonesome Jeb Bush, repeating the mantra he's been saying most of his life, "I'm not George, I'm not George, I'm not George…"

    His wife and kids stop by, and one of the children asks him, "Hey Dad, you want to join us? We're going out to…"

    And Jeb says, "No! Maybe it'll ring. Because, damn it, I'm not George, I'm not George, I'm not George…"

    And his wife says, "Ok, suit yourself."

    And Jeb says, "Yes, I can. I can dress myself. Because damn it, I'm not George, I'm not George, I'm not George…"

  9. jazzbumpa Says:

    To cundgulag's point, I guess –

    Republicans being polled would choose the one name they know as something other than an abject failure

    When has being an abject failure kept a Rethug from being a candidate, or, for that matter, getting an 8-year gig in the White House?

    W was an abject failure at everything he ever did. The notable exceptions were executions (where he has now been eclipsed by Perry) and ruining the country by going to war, going to war, and lowering taxes.

    Why am I the only person who ever talks about that? Either he was the stupidist DECIDER in the history of history, or he deliberately set out to fucking ruin the country.

    In all seriousness, I do not know which of these is the correct assessment.

    But electing job destroyer Romney will finish the job.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/us/politics/after-mitt-romney-deal-company-showed-profits-and-then-layoffs.html?_r=2&hp

    WASF,
    JzB

  10. ladiesbane Says:

    What irks me most (for no lasting reason) is that this new sideshow is completely manufactured by the media for ratings. Gingrich has no money and no organization, and he is not pushing his new advantage…if you call being the floatiest bloated corpse in the river an advantage.

    It's all just mid-season drama until the manufactured cliffhanger finale. Yawn. Until then, it's GOP Debate drinking games, and arguing about when the Republican party jumped the shark. I never liked the show, personally, but the earlier seasons were a lot better than what we have now.

  11. Zak44 Says:

    Newt: Porky Pig in a wig.

  12. truth=freedom Says:

    I just came here to say I can't believe you'd bash Goldwater for his telepresence skills. I mean, seriously, the guy was probably still amazed they had talking movies when he was picked. Plus they were still embarrassed by Tricky's 1960 performance and figured stiff was better than flop-sweats.

    The real reason Paul isn't a plausible choice is because true Republicans know that you can't be America without kicking some brown-skinned ass every few years. Paul thinks that's a waste of his money and so doesn't want to go there, so he's right out. Same with Gary Johnson. Put his drug policy together with his foreign policy, and the Rs are just sure he's a hippy faking it in a suit.

    For amusement, I read Tea Party Nation (maybe I've got a sick sense of humor, or too much time on my hands). Those people are frothing at the notion that Mittens may win. There's a part of me that thinks Obama can beat him. A part of me that wants Obama, if only because the alternatives are too horrible to contemplate.

    As to @ladiesbane's point about the Show: the shark jumping occurred during the second Clinton admin. It's how they convinced themselves that W was a credible candidate who was upright and moral. Meantime, AlGore got the nod "because it was his turn," and ran a predictably wooden campaign.

    Now, we're all going to hell to pay for those sins, and we're going to drag everyone else down with us.

  13. Jimcat Says:

    Second Clinton administration? I thought the GOP Show jumped the shark with Grant.

  14. acer Says:

    There's a solid takedown of Family Guy Gingrich in an issue of Esquire from earlier this year that the teabaggers should've checked out before they picked him over Paul. At least betting it all on hardcore libertarianism would have made the race exciting, and raised some talking points besides the usual kiddie-scaring bullshit. Now they're really stuck with Mittens.

    Because there's no way the Newter will outlast Super Tuesday. He doesn't just lack character – his personality is a slow-motion loop of a car crash.

  15. JohnR Says:

    Hey, ease up on Uncle Newty – don't forget why he's so popular with the base (well, OK, it's mainly that he's not Mitt and he's such a repulsive sack of slime that he _must_ be one of us) – he's a good ol' intellectual that despises book-learning just as much as the rest of the GOP. Sure, he's a little suspect because he talks about facts, but luckily his facts are every other R's beliefs, so he'll do if nothing better comes along.

  16. Rick Massimo Says:

    I could still see Bachmann making a run. She didn't drop in the polls because she actually did or said anything more clinically insane than usual; she just got steamroled by Our "Librul" Media's crush on Rick Perry.

  17. Daniel Says:

    What a sad lineup the GOP is trotting out. Newt??? How fucking sad is that?

  18. PWL Says:

    I guess another term for "republican candidates" would be "Ship of Fools."

  19. Major Kong Says:

    So this is what we've come to as a nation?

    One party is completely batshit crazy and all the other party has going for them is "Hey, at least we're not batshit crazy like those other guys".

  20. Barry Says:

    c u n d gulag Says:
    November 15th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    "And there by his phone, waiting for it to ring, sits Lonesome Jeb Bush, repeating the mantra he's been saying most of his life, "I'm not George, I'm not George, I'm not Georgeā€¦""

    His best hope would be a Tea Party candidate doing a Goldwater, and losing the election by a landslide in '12. Then the GOP (40+ Senators + Blue Dogs) could keep the economy in the sh*tter for 4 more years (while much of the Tea Party leadership which isn't already astroturf could be purged or co-opted by the GOP leadership.

    At that point people would have forgotten about Bush, and would vote for Jeb.

  21. Andrew Says:

    @Middle Seaman: http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-search/La-Jolla_CA/price-na-1000000 shows plenty of houses for sale in La Jolla for under $1 million and certainly dozens for under $10 million.

  22. c u n d gulag Says:

    Barry,
    Oh, I agree.
    I think if a Republican doesn't win in 2012, he's definitely a first-tier candidate in 2016.
    No doubt about it!!!

    My point is that he must feel like he'd be perfect this year – if only the Little Boots/Darth Cheney administration wasn't the biggest disaster since Buchanan's/Coolidge's/Hoover"s.

  23. Mackeyser Says:

    @eau…

    Imagine how I felt writing it…

  24. Ellie Says:

    One thing I do wonder is if a not-popular-with-the-lunatic-fringe cadidate like The Grinch or Mittens managed to win the primary, would putting the established fetus-fetishizer – excuse me, I mean the "family values guy"- Santorum on the ticket as VP get the base out? Could a Grinch-Sanatorium ticket have a chance of turning out enough people to…nah. Couldn't happen…could it?

    I need another glass of wine.

  25. Patrick Says:

    It looks like the Grinch received a huge payment from Freddie Mac, so perhaps his shelf life will be measured in hours….

  26. don Says:

    Well, I read all this and I thought, I'm already missing Herman Cain and it's only been a day and a half since watching him fuck up Libya. Then I thought, huh, "missing him"? That's' just like when my most favorite villain gets offed on America's Next Top [insert career choice] Whore… and I realized, with a little prick of regret, or at least nostalgia, that it really has all become stupid entertainment to me. I guess to them too, it's all just book tours and auditions for a slot somewhere next season. They know it, we know it, whatever. The kind of entertainment that fills a couple hours, gets you all worked up but makes you feel sort of wasted afterwards and your eyes hurt but at least now you can go to bed, and you forget all about it in a day or two. This shit is so over. If you're young enough, I'm so sorry for how much it's going to suck when you're old, if you even get to be old, and for me I'm just about half-glad that if I keep smoking and drinking hard enough I won't even make it to 2020. None of these ridiculous carnival freaks – the ones with even a dim trace of sentience, that is – is going to do anything to stop the clusterfuck of catastrophes on the way (or already here, but lacking in narrative flow and good camera angles), and they will make goddamn sure nobody else gets a chance either before it's too late. Except it's already too late. FDR, Helen Keller, and Billie Fucking Dawn could descend tomorrow, smite the wicked, and steer us away from the cliff but the cliff's behind us now. Maybe this is all just people starting to throw up as we go airborne.

    (I meant Judy Holliday Billie Dawn, not Melanie Griffith Billie Dawn. From "Born Yesterday". Great movie. Fiction.)