The Newt has been a Comeback Kid so many times that he's become more of a Comeback Geezer. He may yet pull victory out of his capacious hat this time out. ("Forty-six states to go!") But that seems improbable, if not impossible, at this ebb of his political fortunes. It may yet occur to his still large but dwindling number of fans that one reason he's had so many comebacks is that he's had so many failures -- political, marital and ethical.
Is this the time he'll fall and not be able to get up? If so, he'll have a lot excuses to offer. His concession speech Tuesday night was full of them: He was defeated by Big Money! Which sounds like something remarkably out of the Marxist hymnal for a defender of free enterprise to say. They lied about me! And even worse, though he didn't say it, they may have told the truth about him. Naturally, he forgot to congratulate his victorious opponent.
Concession speeches are the most interesting, most telling part of a political campaign. They offer the greatest insight into a candidate's character, his grace under pressure or lack of same. They are the test of a candidate's mettle, and Newt Gingrich failed it Tuesday night.
The one candidate who seems to have won the respect of all the others, and maybe the country's, too, is Rick Santorum, who has conducted himself as both a gentleman and man of principle, which is never easy in politics. His campaign has yet to catch fire, but that may be more a reflection of the times than on him.
If he leaves the race, or rather when he leaves the race, he will come away with much more than a political victory -- his good name and sense of honor. He will have run his race and kept the faith.