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Wednesday, May 26, 2010  

"Things That Aren't Going to Happen" for $500

Over at fivethirtyeight, Tom Schaller is sounding very credulous about the prospect of a Newt Gingrich presidential candidacy. I just don't see it happening. Gingrich has been running a quasi-campaign for many years now, but his particular mix of publishing, punditry, and dropped hints at going for the big prize actually inverts the usual purpose of these things. Presidential-level politicians put out deadly-dull pseudo-memoirs or policy blueprints and get booked on cable news shows in order to raise their profile for a presidential run. The verbiage is sort of a loss leader. With Gingrich, it has always seemed to me to be the other way round. He talks incessently about running for president--with a naked graspingness that no actual candidate ever lets slip--as a way to keep up interest in his deadly-dull books and his by now entirely redundant talking-head appearances. I mean, this is a guy who left his last elected office in disgrace and failure a dozen years ago. The miracle is that people are still paying attention to him. What was Tom Foley up to in 2006? Who cares?

In other words, Gingrich's main challenge right now is keeping our attention. I highly doubt he wants to give up his lucrative and easy life as a guy who blathers all the time. I don't think he wants his personal and business lives examined, he doesn't want to bone up on policy issues he doesn't care about, and he certainly doesn't want to feign interest in Iowa's egg output (and no blaming him there--I wouldn't want to do any of those things, either).

And lastly, it's only because Republicans have been so solidly identified with ordinary American white folk that Gingrich could even be imagined as a modern-day retail politician rather than the low-grade management guru and gadabout he really is. Look at what he told Schaller:

Calista and I will make a global decision probably in February or March. We are methodically trying to think through what we’re going to do. We run four small companies and we have a lot of other activities. So we’re taking steps so that if we do decide to run everything will be in order.

And I have to say that the failure of the Obama Administration in practical, real terms—jobs, terrorism and other issues—and the radicalism of the Obama Administration, I think make both me and Calista more inclined to say, “Yea, looking at it in the context of what is our duty as citizens, how do we live that out?”

A global decision? Looking at it in the context of what is our duty as citizens? I don't know whether Gingrich thinks he's at a shareholders meeting or a seminary spirituality class, but this is clearly not a guy used to talking to normal people. You think you're just exhausted by listening to the hackery of the average politician, but nothing makes you yearn for the economical, homespun platitudes of a hack like hearing the business-jargon word-hash that Gingrich produces so effortlessly. Only upper-middle-class professionals, who are subjected to management-speak on a regular basis and thus find it ordinary or perhaps even soothing, could actually mistake a guy like this for a plausible presidential candidate. And really, more power to him. Man's a player, and I'm just left being a hater.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 3:58 PM
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