SCORCHED-EARTH NEWT MAY HURT THE ARTIST MORE THAN MITT ROMNEY
New York magazine's John Heilemann thinks Newt Gingrich really might be crazy enough to keep fighting Mitt Romney all the way to the convention. Heilemann thinks this is a real problem for Romney. I agree with Heilemann about the potential for a prolonged, futile Gingrich fight -- but I'm not so sure about the likelihood of harm to Mitt.
... in Gingrich's case, he might be serious, so much has he come to despise Romney and the Republican Establishment that has brought down on him a twenty-ton shithammer in Florida, and so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny. The same antic, manic, lunatic bloody-mindedness that has made him such a rotten candidate in the Sunshine State may be enough to keep him the race a good long time.
Waging a protracted battle would likely be an act of futility for Gingrich, but it could turn out to be something much worse for Romney.
But how much more harm can Gingrich do to Romney? In some voters' minds, he's helped create an image of Romney as an evil corporate predator -- but on that subject, what else has Newt got? Does he have anything that isn't in that attack film he released a couple of weeks ago?
Yes, that line of attack does seem to have hurt Romney with general-election swing voters -- though please note that it doesn't seem to have hurt him at all with Republicans, and it's conceivable it even shored up his support with the Randian base. Gingrich's current line of attack -- that Romney is "a Massachusetts moderate who's pro-gun control, pro-choice, pro-tax increase, pro-liberal judge" -- may actually help Romney with swing voters. (See? He's not so extreme!)
And really, how many of Newt's best punches are aimed at Romney anyway? Yes, Gingrich hates Romney -- but his most effective attacks have been aimed at debate moderators. And that's not working anymore, is it? A lot has been made of Romney's increasing skill as a debater, but debate moderators have a learning curve, too: Brian Williams and Wolf Blitzer learned not to do what Juan Williams and John King did -- goad Gingrich -- and now he looks toothless and impotent. And there aren't going to be very many more debates.
You know where Gingrich may be having an impact? In this year's Oscar race. Consider what happened at the Screen Actors Guild awards last night:
The Help was the big winner at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards last night, taking three awards many had expected to go to The Artist.
Hmmm ... Gingrich calls Barack Obama the "food stamp president," proposes janitorial work for poor children, attacks Juan Williams, and gets asked about old remarks in which he criticized bilingual education as reinforcing immersion in "the language of the ghetto," all in the space of a couple of weeks. Yes, I know there's always some idiot spouting racist nonsense somewhere, but this is pretty high-profile. Think it might be high-profile enough to be making movie award voters more supportive of a film that focuses on racism? Think it might benefit The Artist if just went away?