The Republican presidential field is a lot thinner than it was three days ago. Donald Trump dropped out as soon as NBC announced it was picking up Celebrity Apprentice for another season. I’m actually a bit disappointed Mike Huckabee dropped out, because I was prepared to go all out to tell the world about Frankie Parker if the Huckster became a contender.
And then there is Newt. Newt is still running, but his campaign has gone so far off the rails it’s almost painful.
Newt became a political powerhouse in the early 1990s both as a lightning rod and as chief spokesperson for a particular moment in movement conservatism. That moment has passed.
It has struck me all along that much of what Newt was saying seemed weirdly dated. He was picking up some of the current buzzwords but didn’t seem to know what to do with them. In his mind, it was still 1994. It’s like trying to talk about popular music with a great uncle who still thinks Neil Sedaka is hip.
On Sunday, on Meet the Press, Newt dissed Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, calling it “right-wing social engineering” and “radical.” No doubt Newt had seen the poll numbers that said the plan is wildly unpopular with a large majority of Americans. It may have seemed a shrewd move to position himself as the Republican alternative for people who don’t like Ryan’s plan.
But the howling from both the teabaggers and the Republican establishment must have caught Newt by surprise. By Monday he was furiously walking back what he had said on Sunday. “There is little daylight between Ryan and Gingrich.” a Gngrich spokesperson said.
Then Newt fell back even further, blaming the media for taking what he said “out of context.” But it’s not just “the media” trashing Newt over his apostasy. It the right-wing punditocracy and other Republican politicians, and they are letting him have it, big time.
One wonder if Newt will get his pundit gig at Faux News back when his presidential hopes finally die. He’s become persona non grata on the Right.
This isn’t what happened back in 1994. Back then, the Republican establishment rallied to back Newt’s every pronouncement. Now it’s obvious Newt has no support from within the Republican establishment, and he doesn’t seem to have a popular base among voters, either.
He’s delusional enough to stay in the race for a while, but for all practical purposes, I’d say his campaign is over.