Guy Benson

Did you hear that?  That's the sound of America breathing a collective sigh of relief over this news.  The dream endures (via Hot Air's Green Room):
 

Newt and Callista Gingrich's book-signing tour swung through Naples on Sunday and might one day again morph into another turn down the campaign trail. The former Republican presidential candidate and House Speaker said he has not ruled out running for president in 2016 — but first the GOP must take on a "very serious analysis" of what went wrong in 2012, Gingrich said. "I have no idea at this stage," Gingrich said, referring to another run for the White House.  


If you followed our 2012 GOP primary coverage, you'll likely recall that my coverage of Speaker Gingrich was...unsparing at times.  Newt certainly had his moments during the campaign, but if he's truly interested in a "very serious analysis" of how the Republican Party must "modernize and adapt," he'd slam the door shut on his own presidential ambitions.  I mean, he'll be 73 by the time 2016 rolls around -- to say nothing of his own reputation, or the glaring need for a new blood in the GOP.  One of the party's post-destruction silver linings is its deep bench of fresh talent; the sooner this new generation of Republicans becomes the face of the party moving forward, the better.  That commentary is in no way intended to demean or diminish the accomplishments or legacies of old guard conservatives; our moment in history simply requires a new breed of conservative leadership.  This reality isn't limited to just Newt, either.  Frankly, I don't think any of the 2012 Republican candidates for president should run again next time.  Another small positive morsel amidst the 2012 devastation is that Team Red finally won't get stuck with their "next guy in line" tendency in 2016...if only because an obvious heir apparent doesn't exist this time around.  So let's start from scratch, personnel-wise, with an entirely fresh field.   Who might populate that field?  I'd personally prefer to adopt a "too soon" mentality on that question and let it lie for awhile; the calendar still reads 2012, after all.  But apparently there are harder-core politicos than I floating around out there, so the buzzfest is already well underway.  Before we play the '16 name-check game (ugh), the '12 recriminations are still playing themselves out.  To wit, a top Romney adviser has blasted fellow Republicans for tossing their erstwhile nominee under the bus following his electoral defeat:
 

“The Friday night before the election, we were in Cincinnati for this huge rally … Tens of thousands of people, you could feel the energy, a hundred top-tier Romney surrogates were at the event. I’m backstage with some of them, I won’t mention their names, but they’re talking about Romney like he’s Reagan. ‘His debate performances were the best performances of any Republican nominee in presidential history. He’s iconic.’ They were talking about him because they believed he was going to win in four or five days. And in fact, some of them were already talking to our transition to position themselves for a Romney cabinet.” “I won’t say who they are,” Senor said. “They know who they are. They were on television, it was unbelievable, it was five, six days later, absolutely eviscerating him.”  


Politics is a brutal game generally played by brutal people, where a guy like Mitt Romney can go from historic icon to hapless scapegoat, literally overnight.  Romney didn't help himself by offering ham-handed, alienating "takers vs. makers" excuses in the wake of his loss, of course -- comments that led to appropriate and thoughtful criticism/distancing from an array of GOP up-and-comers.  Speaking of whom, let's revisit to those swirling rumors and conjecture.  The power of the never-ending, horse-race-driven news cycle compels me.  Does Jeb Bush count as an emerging leader of the new conservative vanguard?  Color Allahpundit understandably dubious, but he's being discussed along with the longer list of usual suspects. Meanwhile, Right Wing News has posted the results of their first 2016 conservative blogger straw poll, which asks respondents (of which I was not one) to pick the candidate they'd like to see as the GOP nominee four years from now.  The first batch of results:
 

1) Marco Rubio (FL Senator) 20.5% (16 votes)
2) Rand Paul (KY Senator) 14.1% (11 votes)
3) Scott Walker (WI Governor) 11.5% (9 votes)
4) Bobby Jindal (LA Gov) 9% (7 votes)
4) Paul Ryan (WI Congressman. VP candidate) 9% (7 votes)
6) Jeb Bush (Former Fl Governor) 6.4% (5 votes)
6) Sarah Palin (Former AL Governor. VP candidate) 6.4% (5 votes)
8) Mike Pence (IN Governor) 5.1% (4 votes)
9) Susana Martinez (NM Governor) 3.8% (3 votes)
10) Chris Christie (NJ Governor) 2.6% (2 votes)
11) Ted Cruz (TX Senator) 2.6% (2 votes)
12) Rick Perry (TX Governor) 1.3% (1 votes)
12) Mike Huckabee (Former AK Governor) 1.3% (1 votes)
12) Mitch Daniels (Former IN Governor) 1.3% (1 votes)
12) Condi Rice (Former Secretary of State) 1.3% (1 votes) 12) Rick Santorum (Former PA Senator) 1.3% (1 votes)
12) Nikki Haley (SC Gov) 1.3% (1 votes)
12) Bob McDonnell (VA Governor) 1.3% (1 votes)
19) Jan Brewer, Eric Cantor, Rob Portman, Brian Sandoval (0 votes)  


There's more fodder at the link, but I flat-out don't have the energy to fire up the 2016 machine just yet.  Sorry.  Instead, I'll leave you with some poignant images of Mitt Romney and his family vacationing at Disneyland and trying to enjoy Thanksgiving in the aftermath of November 6th's painfully unexpected electoral rejection:
 


So close to being president-elect, and yet so far.  How does one come down from getting that tantalizingly close to earning the ultimate brass ring, but falling short?  


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography