Poor Newt. The GOP’s beloved policy wonk, long revered as an innovative thinker, quickly discovered how unforgiving his party can be for those who trespass against its conventional wisdom.
The only real question now is whether Gingrich emulates John McCain by surrendering any claim to intellectual independence before he bombs out of the GOP race, which otherwise seems assured.
Like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump before him, Gingrich finds himself under fire in what would look like another coordinated assault, except of course these things are always called a coincidence.
First it was Palin. Long the darling of the conservative media, it finally dawned on the GOP establishment — watching her negative poll numbers climb — that she can’t beat President Obama, and isn’t making any real attempt to become “serious” by boning up on the issues.
But the GOP’s real problem? To paraphrase columnist Clarence Page, the GOP candidates with the best chance of beating Obama appear to have the least chance of winning the party’s nomination.
Worse, Palin was also a darling of the mainstream media and was getting more attention than anyone else in the GOP. So conservative pundits began attacking her. (Athough it must wound Gingrich, the idea man, to see a recent poll putting him behind her, the woman with hardly any.)
Then came Trump’s circus act. He rode to the top of the polls flogging birtherism, which the GOP establishment was trying to lock in the barn. The conservative machine shifted into gear again, and all of a sudden the usual suspects began to take down Trump, who didn’t really care because it was just a publicity stunt anyway.
But Gingrich does care, and thus it hurts. He has already issued at least one apology, for trashing the budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. What really rankled was that Gingrich reminded voters about the plan’s impact on Medicare, something all those House Republicans who voted for it when it seemed like such a good idea began to regret when they realized what a weapon it handed to Democrats.
So Gingrich seems doomed, and Trump and Huckabee, who were leading the pack, dropped out. Who’s next to attack? Probably Mitt Romney, polling barely ahead of a resurgent Palin, who started flirting with birtherism again after Trump’s success with it.