Presidential Suicide Bomber

It looks like Rick Perry isn’t the only one with an “oops” moment these days. Like many primary-watchers, I completely misread the Newt Gingrich situation. Just a month ago, I referred to Intrade’s seemingly overstated forecast of Gingrich’s 11% chances of winning the nomination as “madness.” Now, his Intrade odds stand at 35% and he leads in most polls, including those in Iowa, South Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Oops.

At the very least, I’m in good company. According to the Times on Thursday:

Obama campaign officials readily admit that they did not see Mr. Gingrich’s emergence as a Republican front-runner coming, and that they did not begin to focus on him as a truly viable and potential nominee until Herman Cain’s candidacy collapsed over the last several weeks.

There is also an interesting piece by The New Yorker’s John Cassidy, exploring this development.

Has the Crybaby grown up?

Frankly, there’s still some part of me that just can’t believe it. Newt Gingrich? Really? Is the GOP about to trade a relatively bland, highly electable Obama-alternative in for a presidential suicide bomber?

But what do I know? I would have thought that being a $1,600,000 “historian” for Freddie Mac would have been a disqualifier given the Republican orthodoxy that Fannie and Freddie caused the financial crisis. In 2007, as the housing crisis got rolling, Gingrich had a piece on the Freddie website itself, now — for some reason — only available through’s WayBack Machine, saying:

I like the GSE model [Fannie and Freddie] because it provides a more efficient, market-based alternative to taxpayer-funded government programs. It marries private enterprise to a public purpose.

Let’s just be clear about this: it’s Republican dogma that the GSEs were responsible for the recession that cost several trillion dollars in economic losses, exploded the national debt, and destroyed over 6 million jobs. The GSEs may also have caused the Civil War and killed off the dinosaurs. In the conservative catechism, they are diabolical. But the GOP is about to nominate a man whom the putative culprits paid $1,600,000 to be an unofficial lobbyist, who publicly praised Freddie’s business model on its own website just as the housing bubble began to burst? I…just…don’t…believe…it.

I have long been convinced that the GOP has gone off the deep end. But this much internal inconsistency seems to violate the laws of physics. If this goes on much longer, the Republican Party is going to collapse under its own weight into a super-massive black hole of contradiction. I’d say that the odds of that happening are about 35%.

Super-massive black hole Credit: NASA



  1. Carolyn says:

    Clearly, Andrew, the facts do not get in their way. Did you see that poll that showed people who view Fox actually know LESS than people who don’t watch any news at all? So the RNC don’t have to worry about consistency. Then there’s Bill Clinton, no less, saying that Gingrich is viable when you’d think he’d walk on the other side of the street when Newt came by after what he did to Clinton’s programs. Maybe he thinks Newt is easier to beat than Mitt? Or maybe he’s just pushing his new book. It’s discouraging.

  2. Alan says:

    The GOP’s basic perspective is: “Don’t bother me with the facts (or the truth).” It’s way too complicated and subtle for their black and white, shifting perspectives. Just keep it simple, no matter how inherently contradictory and chaotic it becomes. All one has to do is look at Bush and his Iraq policy for an example of that.

    Let’s hope they do crumble under their own weight, but then that’s expecting the American polity to actually do some thinking of their own. Now, that’s an optimistic wish!

  3. Rebecca says:

    Well said, AS, and agreed it’s completely bizarre — albeit only if one continues to expect that the GOP will act rationally (which belief may, in light of all evidence to the contrary, be irrational itself). I’m sure you guys saw this, but Nate Silver wrote a good piece for today’s NYT about the fact that the identity of Obama’s challenger may still be unknown:

  4. Katya G says:

    Excellent post Andrew! There seems to be no end to the Republican madness, although it is kind of old news. I do feel, though, that many in their ranks privately acknowledge that, but they have been on this bandwagon for so long that they can’t get off it now and keep defending the indefensible.

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