Friday, December 09, 2011


In this discussion between Ezra Klein and Steve Benen about whether the GOP establishment has the ability to deny Newt Gingrich the party's presidential nomination, I agree with Steve.

Ezra writes:

There’s just no way the Republican establishment lets Gingrich become their nominee. As Andrew Sullivan pointed out today, you're already seeing the anti-Gingrich mobilization among conservative thought leaders: Here's George Will, Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Tom Coburn and Ann Coulter, just for starters. There's this Politico story about all the Washington Republicans who hate Gingrich.

Now, I think it's more likely that this mobilization leads to a Romney win then a brokered convention or a new entrant. But I think it makes a Gingrich win almost impossible to imagine.

Steve adds an obvious name missing from Ezra's list -- Karl Rove -- but then disagrees with Ezra:

...I'm not convinced. There's no doubt that the party's establishment really does hate Gingrich, and has for quite a while....

But ... I'm not altogether sure the Republican establishment has the wherewithal to exert its will over the process.

He cites Sharron Angle's primary win, and Christine O'Donnell's. I think he's right -- the voter base is crazy; the insiders can't necessarily control the outcome.

Which leads to two possibilities: either these folks disagree with Steve and me, and are 100% certain they can stop Gingrich, or they're willing to have him as the nominee with no establishment support -- in other words, in that eventuality they plan to treat him as a tainted nominee, a David Duke or Alvin Greene, and just dissociate themselves from him.

I say this because the rush of pundit panic really looks coordinated -- I think the establishment has asked everyone available, all the people Ezra named, to contribute to this effort, stat. Which means the bridge to the party's possible nominee is burned.

And maybe the establishment just doesn't care.

Some of you will say the establishment doesn't care because Barack Obama has been as Republican a president as the GOP could ask for. I very much disagree with that -- he's pushing some things forward in a liberal direction and he's holding the line on others.

But to the GOP, maybe he seems manageable. The GOP thinks it knows how to contain him, and how to push him back. The GOP also knows how to use him as a foil. So maybe defeating him doesn't seem worthwhile, if it means trying to defeat him with the unpredictable Gingrich. Better to see this as a long war and try again with, say, the more biddable Marco Rubio or Chris Christie or Nikki Haley or Paul Ryan in 2016.

It could be that; it could just be a hubristic sense that they can stop Gingrich. Either way, they clearly aren't trying very hard to avoid a situation in which the nastiest quotes aimed at nominee Newt in the general election came from fellow Republicans.


ploeg said...

The difference between Angle, O'Donnell, and the wingnut-du-jour who is supposed to be the alternative candidate in the race against Mitt is that senate races are much more local than presidential races, particularly when you're talking about small states like Delaware and Nevada. In 2010, you had all these races going on besides Senate-DE and Senate-NV, and the Republicans in DE and NV probably were a little, shall we say, complacent about how well they were going to do in the regular and weren't thinking so much about how the primaries would turn out. And so it came to pass that Angle and O'Donnell were able to sneak under the radar and score upsets in the primaries.

For a presidential primary, not so much. Nobody's doing any sneaking under the radar for the presidential nomination. If Gingrich gets in, it will have to be through the front door. And the establishment has all the arrows and boiling oil that it needs to do Gingrich in. Money and negative ads can't drive Romney's polls up, but they can sure drive Gingrich's polls down. All that is needed is the will to spend the money and put out the negative ads, and I'm guessing that they have the will.

In the end, you want to win, no matter what, and you want to give yourself the best chance to win. You don't get anywhere if you resign yourself to losing. Ask all those folks who voted for Ralph back in 2000.

Tom Hilton said...

Maybe they've figured out that Newt doesn't want to win--he just wants to get nominated because it'll vastly increase his earning power.

Swellsman said...

I dunno. I kinda suspect that if it begins to look like Newt is unstoppable because the base has finally taken over the party, suddenly you'll see a lot of GOP establishment types walking this all back. I don't think they'll want to actually admit they've lost control of their party.

So I think they'll begin to claim that Newt has been one of them all along. They'll be able to get away with it too, because the Villagers have been treating Newt like a wise party elder ever since he left office in disgrace.

Note-- they'll still loathe him, and maybe even conspire against him out of the public eye, but they'll want to claim him publicly just to avoid having to admit they are no longer running the asylum.

My two cents, anyway.

c u n d gulag said...

While I think they're preparing to try to take him down if they have to, I think they're also just laying back waiting "The Wizard of Ooze" to implode.
They know he's had a career full of inelegant pratfalls because his ego's far, far larger than his brain, his mouth runs faster than his brain, and in fights, he always leads with his mouth.

And his wife's no bargain either. She basically was Newt's Monica Lewinsky while he was impeaching Clinton, servicing the "great man" for years - the difference is, Newt married Callista, the 'Queen of the BJ.'
Now, she won't matter to the base - nothing will if he wins the nomination, but I think if Newt DOES manage to avoid stepping in his own minefield, his life's story makes him the least likeable and sympathetic candidate in my lifetime, maybe in history. Smarmy, fat, and rich from fleecing the rubes, is not going to sell well - at least I HOPE!!!

One last quick observation - I love it when Newt gets all full of himself, like when he was bragging about not needing to lobby since he was making $60,000 a speech - because if you watch his mannerisms, he moves and sounds like a GA version of Ralph Kramden when he's bragging - except without the basic decency and kindness of Ralph. Or his faithful love of Alice. I keep waiting for Newt to come out with, "Rachel ------- I've come -------- BACK!", or, "I have no string of poloponies..."

I just hope and pray that Newt's never voted in to lecture the American people that he's "KING! KING OF DA CASTLE!!!"

Ten Bears said...

It has long been my contention, oft aired even here in the dusty pages of this hallowed tome, that the republics are "throwing" the election. Did so in ought-eight, are doing so in twelve.

The question that begs answer, is Why?

BH said...

Swellsman, I agree with you 100%.

BH said...

Ten Bears - I'd have to dissent on the R's throwing the '08 election. I think that had the economic crash surfaced 6 weeks later, the R's would in fact have won it. I don't think they threw it; I just don't think they could figure out fast enough how to talk around the crash w/W still in office.