Over the weekend there was a spate of news reports and analyses about Newt Gingrich's confession of past adultery. The Wall Street Journal published an extensive piece over the weekend, speculating on what the "Hamlet" of the 2008 presidential campaign will do -- "to run, or not to run."
It's time for me to say it: I'm 100 percent positive that Gingrich will enter the battle for the GOP nomination. I don't need to hear a confirmation from his lips, nor will I seek to press him on the point. That could put him in the awkward position of having to offer an indefensible untruth.
As for his various past sins, there are untold "other sides" to these matters that are privately mitigating the disapproval conservative Christians might otherwise be starting to heap onto the former speaker.
The real issue for Team Gingrich on a presidential announcement is not if, but when. Newt's original strategy was to sit by and watch earlier-announced candidates flounder and waste money. That might have seemed workable before nearly all heavily populated states with ambition decided to move their presidential primaries to early February. Florida may even hold its primary in January.
All of this may account for why, suddenly, Gingrich appears to be accelerating efforts to raise his press profile, and to engage in a little "dust-busting" on issues such as his past marital problems. With forgiveness now offered by the likes of Jerry Falwell and others, Gingrich already has cleared a major hurdle that he probably hadn't intended to address before the summer.
There's certainly a strong and devoted GOP hard core waiting for Gingrich to run. His problem is that too many of the key Republican activists and campaign contributors are already joining other campaigns. A check with one of Gingrich's most prominent sources of major funding confirmed that they might be close to opting for another Republican candidate if Gingrich doesn't give the proper signals soon.
And now, with a primary season likely to commence in January and end, for practical purposes, before March 2008, he may no longer have the luxury of waiting for already financed and organized candidates to collapse.
If Gingrich is waiting for a GOP version of Howard Dean's 2004 meltdown, he's relying on an already outmoded campaign model.
There is both good news and bad in Gingrichland.
The good is that the former speaker is getting treated like a rock star at just about every event he attends these days. Even with his rumpled look, complete with glasses resting on his nose, Gingrich seems to have the same political "sex appeal" that followed Henry Kissinger around in the 1970s -- which is still a mystery to me.