Friday, March 22, 2013

Today in Comic Relief

Sure, there's war, and unemployment, and all sorts of other terrible things...but at least we get the unreported story of the 2012 nomination battle: that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich almost formed a unity ticket to take on Mitt Romney.

Okay, granted, there's apparently less to this than meets the eye, or at least the headline ("nearly toppled Romney"). The story (nicely reported by Joshua Green) is apparently that in the run-up to the Michigan primary, the Santorum campaign pushed the disgraced former Speaker to drop out and endorse the struggling defeated Pennsylvania Senator. Newt, with typical Newtness, instead tried to get Santorum to go for a "Unity" ticket with Newt on top. The negotiations got as far as face-to-face meetings between the candidates, but eventually fell apart.

Now, this was after Santorum's big day on February 7 in which he posted surprise victories in Colorado and Minnesota caucuses and a Missouri beauty contest...it was at the high point of the Santorum campaign. But it was also a month after Romney had pretty much locked up the nomination. More to the point, there was no large Gingrich constituency ready to follow him to Santorum; to the contrary, if they had really named a Santorum-Gingrich ticket it's extremely likely that Santorum would have drawn fire from the large portion of the GOP who didn't want Newt anywhere close to the White House.

The truth is that if party actors wanted Rick Santorum, they would have rallied to him, and they very much did not. They did not after his win in Iowa; they did not after his CO/MN/MO big day. Even in the extremely unlikely even that a Newt endorsement would have been enough to push him past Romney in Michigan (Santorum lost 41/38 there, with Newt pulling 7%), Romney still would have won the day by winning the Arizona primary. And party actors still wouldn't have rallied to Santorum. Especially not to Santorum/Gingrich.

As for Gingrich/Santorum...well, if there's one thing that was clear from the beginning of the nomination process to the end it's that practically everyone who ever knew or worked with Newt Gingrich thought he would be a simply awful presidential candidate, much less president. And while many of them were willing to play along up to a point, every time he had any momentum at all they came out of the woodwork to make sure that whatever debacle Republicans would suffer through in 2012, at least it wouldn't be that debacle.

I'll give the last word to Jonathan Chait:
This is not surprising: Gingrich is always making elaborate historical arguments, and they always seem to justify his political self-interest at any given moment. If Santorum were really clever, he would have accepted the vice-presidential spot and waited for the inevitable Gingrich impeachment — misappropriating funds for jewelry? starting a war with Mars without Senate approval? declaring himself president for life? all the above? — and taken over then as a comparatively reassuring figure. Sadly, the world will never know.

13 comments:

  1. Anyone who thinks Gingrich would have been willing to settle for the vide-presidency (in order to help another candidate!) doesn't know anything about Newt Gingrich. A world-historical figure does not kowtow to a dime-a-dozen former senator.

    At any rate, the extensive and frequently hilarious Gingrich coverage has been my very favorite thing about Plain Blog, so I am thrilled to see him back in the news for any reason.

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    1. This is wonderful. What we wouldn't give for footage of the Gingrich/Santorum Unity Ticket Summit.

      Certainly much more hilarious than anything our meager intellects can conjure here.

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    2. oh, imagine the slap fights between the two. Endless comedy gold!

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  2. One Gingrich to rule them all.

    Seriously though, I think it's about time we stop screwing around and get down to brass tacks. The Newt biopic film is well pass due, I was thinking of Danny DeVito in a wig to play the smartest man who ever lived, but I'm open to suggestions. I'll lock myself in a motel in New Mexico and pound this script out in five days if I have to.

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    1. All I know is Rick Santorum should be played by the guy played the C.I.A. agent who lets Bane onto the plane in that shaky first scene in "The Dark Knight Rises".

      http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tdkr-0017_772.jpg

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    2. How about David Koechner to play the Newt? He does the Southern huckster thing pretty well and he's got a phony, toothy grin that very much personifies Newt's public image.

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    3. These are all excellent points, you are now all producers. @Xeno, that would be Aidan Gillen, and his character in Game of Thrones is certainly who Newt thinks he is, so their certainly is something there. The more I think about it though, the more I think this could he the role of Jason Alexander's career.

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  3. I will say - it saddens me that we did not get to have the Gingrich/Biden VEEP debate.

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    1. Oh, that would have been *glorious*.

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    2. "Would have been"? It would still be going on.

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  4. The Frito PunditoMarch 23, 2013 at 4:10 AM

    And who would play the zombie-look Mrs. Gingrich? I would love to see Claire Danes tackle that - she's shown she can do autism.

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  5. I was always hoping for a unity ticket between Newt Gingrich and the Geico Gecko. I think this country ready for its first amphibian president.

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  6. Chair always seems confused to me. Can't he remember any president impeached who didn't have to cede his seat to his Veep? I guess that some people think he's clever.

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