Posted on | November 14, 2011 | 73 Comments
“Our best chance to put responsible and principled leaders in Washington starts here, with Dede Scozzafava.”
— Newt Gingrich, Oct. 16, 2009
“Former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells NRO that he is sure that endorsing Republican Dede Scozzafava in the upcoming special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district was the right thing to do.”
— Robert Costa, National Review, Oct. 20, 2009
“She’s dramatically better than the Democrat.”
— Newt Gingrich, Oct. 21, 2009
“The choice in New York is a practical one . . .”
— Newt Gingrich, Oct. 22, 2009
“Newt for 2012? No, thanks.”
— Michelle Malkin, Oct. 26, 2009
“If this third-party candidate takes away just enough votes to elect the Democrat, then we will have strengthened Nancy Pelosi by the divisiveness. . . . The money raised in the district is overwhelmingly going to Dede Scozzafava.”
— Newt Gingrich, Oct. 27, 2009
“In Bill Owens, I see a sense of duty and integrity that will guide him beyond political partisanship. He will be an independent voice devoted to doing what is right for New York.”
— Dede Scozzafava, Nov. 1, 2009 (endorsing Democrat)
“I’m very, very let down because she told everybody she was a Republican, and she said she was a loyal Republican.”
— Newt Gingrich, Nov. 2, 2009
“Guess who will not be representing the 23rd District? Dede Scozzafava!”
— supporter of Doug Hoffman, Nov. 3 (Election Night)
“This one was worth the fight. . . And this is only one fight in the battle. . . . Stand up and fight back.”
— Doug Hoffman, Nov. 3, concession speech
“We cannot forget how this whole thing happened in the first place. . . . The right message here would indict the way party bosses, Republican Party bosses and these big thinkers like Newt screwed the whole thing up, from the get-go.”
— Rush Limbaugh, Nov. 5, 2009
When Allahpundit first asked, “Second look at Gingrich?” on Oct. 18, my visceral reaction was, “Are you freaking kidding me?” Nothing astonishes me more than poll numbers — from PPP and CNN — suggesting that people are taking Newt seriously as a presidential candidate. And of all the prognotications I’ve ever made, of none have I been more confident than in predicting this: It won’t last.
The Newt Bubble is one of two things:
- A transition point for the erstwhile Rick Perry voters before they go to one of the other Not Romneys; or
- The final doomed hope before these fickle voters — the ones who started out for Tim Pawlenty or some other non-viable candidate, then hopscotched around amongst the Flavor of the Month candidates — shrug their shoulders, say “Why not?” and settle for Mitt Romney.
The croakers are once more pronouncing doom on Herman Cain (all day today the Fox News talking heads have treated Cain dismissively), which doesn’t bother me much since the croakers never believed in Cain to begin with, and they’ve been so wrong so often that I automatically discount their repetitive doomsaying. Cain will either recover or he won’t, but the ultimate non-viability of Newt remains a solid fact.
To get way ahead of the argument, Newt is unelectable, period. If Republicans actually were to nominate him, sending the twice-divorced Pillsbury doughboy up against Obama would be a fool-proof formula for catastrophic electoral wipeout on Nov. 6, 2012. Supporting Gingrich is therefore tantamount to advocating the re-election of Obama. I’m convinced that Republican primary voters will sooner or later wise up to that reality, and the Gingrich Bubble will collapse as suddenly as it has inflated the past two weeks.
What is ironic, of course, is that many of those prominent voices now cheering the Newt Bubble are the same people who often say that they oppose Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann or Rick Santorum on the grounds that those particular Not Romneys are not “electable.”
These self-authorized arbiters of “electability” are never going to have a chance to be proven wrong about Gingrich in the general election next November because, within the next 10 weeks, it will be demonstrated that Newt can’t beat Romney.
Prediction: Newt won’t even finish ahead of Ron Paul in Iowa.
Why do I say that? Because Ron Paul inspires fanatical devotion from his followers, and can muster armies of fired-up volunteers. By contrast, Newt’s staunchest supporters are respectable Establishment types who aren’t going to be trudging through the snow in Iowa on Jan. 3.
If a blogger really wants to have some fun, do this: Start collecting comments of pundits who are currently pumping up the Newt Bubble. Save the links in a special folder in your browser bookmarks, and wait until the morning of Feb. 1 — the day after the Florida primary — at which point those quotes are going to look silly as hell.
By Feb. 1, Newt will be 0-for-4, his campaign will be deeply in debt, and he’ll be ready to quit and endorse Romney. Take it to the bank.
Of course, if I’m wrong and the Newt Bubble proves an enduring phenomenon so that, on Feb. 1, we’re left with a choice between Newt and Mitt, I’ll endorse Mitt, because I can never forgive Newt for what he did to Doug Hoffman in 2009.
While thousands of grassroots conservatives all across the country were doing all they could to elect Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, Gingrich spent three weeks telling everybody that Dede Scozzafava was “our best hope.” He kept going on TV to repeat the counterfactual assertion that Dede was the unaminous choice of Republicans in the district, while suggsting that Hoffman — a mild-mannered accountant — was some kind of wild-eyed extremist, and that those of us who supported Hoffman were ignorant of the realities in the district. Of course, Newt himself never even bothered to visit that district, and was just repeating what he had been told by the clueless hacks in the New York GOP leadership and at the NRCC.
When push came to shove, as we all remember, Dede quit on Halloween — the Saturday before Election Day — and endorsed the Democrat on Sunday, which was just about the only thing she could have done to prevent Hoffman from winning. In the end, Bill Owens won by less than 4,000 vote out of more than 150,000 votes cast in the special election, with Dede leaving her name on the ballot to collect some 8,500 votes, which was greater than Owens’s margin of victory.
It was Dede Scozzafava, not Doug Hoffman, who was the marginal “spoiler” candidate in that election, a role she played with Newt’s wholehearted support.
Like many of other Republicans of his vintage, Newt never understood or sympathized with the Tea Party movement. Gingrich, like so many GOP Establishment types, seemed to fear the grassroots uprising as a potential third-party threat, and viewed Hoffman’s campaign in that context. But what happened in NY-23 was a unique circumstance that has never been repeated in the past two years, and Gingrich evidently couldn’t be bothered to do the research necessary to discover that his Republican buddies were lying to him: About Dede, about Hoffman and about the 23rd District.
As someone who traveled all over NY-23, I can attest that the district was mostly rural, with a few relatively smallish towns — Watertown and Plattsburgh being the biggest — and a bit of suburban Syracuse thrown in. It was a basically conservative district and there was nothing in Hoffman’s platform that made him unelectable. Frankly, Hoffman’s worst problem in the district was the open hostility shown by the publisher of the Watertown newspaper, who seems to have been a personal friend of Scozzafava and hated Hoffman with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns.
Newt couldn’t be bothered to learn any of that, and made a complete fool of himself: “She said she was a loyal Republican.” Chump.
Here we are two years later, and Gingrich wants to pretend none of that ever happened. Newt is currently prospering because he talks a good game. He’s always been brilliant at articulating issues, and has benefitted by comparison to the hapless Rick Perry, at a time when Herman Cain has been under siege for two weeks. But the Newt Bubble won’t last, because people will eventually remember Newt’s past and his lack of grassroots volunteer enthusiasm will doom his candidacy.
Nobody is going to volunteer to campaign for a career politician who blows half a million at Tiffany for his third wife and then goes off on a luxury Mediterranean cruise. Newt isn’t going to get those $25, $50, $100 campaign contributions from retirees and housewives. Whatever campaign Newt puts together, he’ll have to rely on paid staff, and he’ll get no help from Tea Party activists who remember what he did to Doug Hoffman, the original hero of the Tea Party movement. And if nobody else remembers, we’ll be sure to remind them.
“You have to answer for Santino, Carlo. You fingered Sonny for the Barzini people. . . . Barzini is dead. So is Phillip Tattaglia. Moe Greene. Stracci. Cuneo. Today I settled all family business so don’t tell me that you’re innocent. Admit what you did.”