Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
Practically speaking, the four-man GOP presidential contest has come down to a two-man race. Mitt Romney looks like the eventual winner, but Rick Santorum still has an outside chance. Ron Paul is running to promote his ideas, which is all well and good, but Newt Gingrich is done. Only an egotistical narcissist would not know that it is time to leave the stage. Then again, the above describes Gingrich perfectly.
Newt’s latest far-flung theory has him combining forces with Rick Santorum (who doesn’t want his help) to deny the evil Darth Vader, aka Mitt Romney, the nomination, which, in Newt speech, would “save Western civilization” as we know it.
Newt’s grandiose plan has Romney a few delegates shy of winning the nomination, due in large part to his own cleverness. Newt enters an open convention as the underdog, but somewhere between ballots, the delegates have an epiphany and see the light. They recognize that he is the “only candidate who can effectively debate Barack Obama” and that his third wife is the only one pretty enough to be first lady. Therefore, they anoint him their leader and a united GOP leaves Tampa worshiping at his feet.
There are a couple of things wrong with his theory: First, despite his ability to pontificate on any subject at a moment’s notice, when he was a front-runner in Florida and everything was on the line, Newt lost the Tampa debate to Romney, who is mediocre at best. Why? His past caught up with him, and he lost all wiggle room.
While Newt may be the better debater on issues, his past would be “the issue.” Should Gingrich be the nominee, the campaign would be about his many flip-flops, moral flaws, leadership failure as speaker and his role with Freddie Mac.
Despite his many campaign appearances and television interviews, we still don’t know why a “historian” received $1.6 million “not to lobby” for the quasi-government agency at the very epicenter of the housing crisis that lead to the Great Recession. Yes, I know Newt is the greatest historian who ever lived, but, even at that, $1.6 million is a steep price to pay for a little background information.
The second problem with this theory is his wife, Callista. He uses her in his campaign stops like a redneck uses a bobblehead doll on the dashboard to say, “Look at her. This is who I really am – sleek, slim and flawless.”
I’m not saying that Newt believes he is a woman, but he believes that putting her on the platform next to him at every campaign stop and in camera range before every speech actually helps. He sees her as the next Jacqueline Kennedy, whose presence helped propel JFK to the White House.
Unfortunately, when people see Callista, they are not reminded of Jackie. They are reminded of Newt’s moral failings. Yes, the nation accepted a divorced president in Ronald Reagan, but it was Reagan’s first wife, Jane Wyman, who wanted the split. Reagan met Nancy a year after Wyman filed for divorce. We have never knowingly put an adulteress in the White House.
For all his smarts, Newt simply doesn’t get that parading a third wife, with whom he had an affair for six years while claiming the moral high ground as speaker of the House, doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that she is the age of his daughters. Then there are her wardrobe and jewelry, which are enough to make the well-heeled fashionista Nancy Pelosi jealous. It reminds us of his six-figure charge account at Tiffany’s as he tries to paint Romney as the one who is out of touch with the common man.
Yes, it is a little past time for the curtain to come down gracefully on the Gingrich campaign, but there will still be some applause if he exits now and doesn’t drag it out any longer.
Michele Bachmann recognized the obvious after a disappointing finish in Iowa. Her exit was well-timed and magnanimous. She said, “Last night, the people of Iowa spoke with a very clear voice, and so I have decided to stand aside. … If we are going to repeal Obamacare, turn our country around and take back our country, we must do so united. I believe we must rally around the person that our country and our party and our people select to be that standard-bearer.”
By making that speech, she retained both her dignity and her political capital. If Gingrich fails to leave now, he will lose both.