FORTUNATELY (OR PERHAPS UNFORTUNATELY), NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM
Is Newt Gingrich really going to run for president in 2012? Well, compare the wording of his statement on C-SPAN yesterday...
"Callista and I are going to think about this in February 2011. And we are going to reach out to all of our friends around the country. And we'll decide, if there's a requirement as citizens that we run, I suspect we probably will. And if there's not a requirement, if other people have filled the vacuum, I suspect we won't."
...with the wording of a statement he made about 2008, as reported by The Washington Post in 2006:
In remarks that were critical of both parties' recent performance, Gingrich told a luncheon group of scholars and reporters at the Brookings Institution that he will make a decision in the fall of 2007 about running.
"If at that point there's still a vacuum ... then we'll probably do something," Gingrich said....
So it's always about the vacuum. He's always putting this in terms of a Newt-sized vacuum that desperately needs filling.
My guess, therefore, is that he's not going to run this time either. He's beginning to remind me of Ted Nugent, who's always on the verge of running for something, and never follows through.
I've been thinking it would be fun to have Gingrich in the race, because he's long been a very unpopular figure, except on the right, but strange things have happened: his approval rating in the general public has gone up -- check out his recent poll numbers at Polling Report, and compare them with the awful ones from, say, 2007 -- while he's become a bit of a pariah in the GOP base. He and Rush Limbaugh have been feuding for a while, for heretical statements like his declaration that he doesn't want President Obama to fail, and he's recently infuriated wingnuts by backing the Republican (rather than the wingnut-approved third-party candidate) in that special congressional election in New York's 23rd District.
So what does that mean? If he does decide to run, would he -- Newt Gingrich -- be the McCain of the race? The seeming moderate who's the right choice if you don't want to vote for an extremist? Heaven help us.