Newt! Newt! N--

Posted: May 20, 2011 12:06 PM
Newt! Newt! N--

I think we've been through this before, but it's worth revisiting.

I have known Newt Gingrich since 1982 when I first went to work at the National Republican Congressional Committee and it was while I was its Director of Public Affairs that I met a youngish, but voluble Congressman from Georgia - Newt Gingrich.

Sometimes we got along, sometimes we didn't. Over the years we crossed paths a number of times. After a horrible argument at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco in 1984 we didn't speak for five years, a drought that ended when Newt was elected Republican Whip in 1989 and Lee Atwater decided that the new Whip needed a press secretary and that it was going to be me.

The last time I worked for Newt was in 1998 when I ran GOPAC and accept my share of responsibility for the dreadful miscalculation leading to House Republicans losing five seats in that mid-term election which led, in turn, to Gingrich's announcement that he would not run for Speaker nor would he take his seat when the new Congress opened in 1999.

In the week or so since he formally announced that he was a candidate for President, his campaign has gone from sputtering to on the rocks.

Newt is not a great orator. He is, as a former college professor, a great lecturer. If I had been involved in the planning, I would have had him deliver one of his 50 minute lectures before a live audience then edited it down to a five to seven minute video which would have had the energy a live audience provides.

As it was, the announcement had all the excitement of a corporate auditor reading the balance sheet at a stockholders' meeting.

There has been no word from the campaign as to how much, if any, money it raised in those first days.

It is hard to believe that they didn't have the millions of people on Newt's vaunted e-mail and twitter lists teed up to hit the "DONATE" key on the website when the video was put up - even if only to donate $5 - so in the ensuing 48 hours they could have announced that X-tens of thousands of people had donated Y-hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That didn't happen which I said on Lawrence O'Donnell's MSNBC program Wednesday night reminded me of the famous quote from the Sherlock Holmes story, "Silver Blaze."

When Holmes was asked if there was anything he might like to bring to the attention of the police he answered:

"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."

"But the dog did nothing in the night-time."

"That was the curious incident," remarked Holmes.

Everything except having glitter (which I mistakenly described as a box of Lucky Charms) poured over his head during a book signing the other day has been an unforced error by Newt and his campaign.

He needs to finish out the schedule in Iowa, then come back to Washington or Georgia or wherever the campaign is headquartered and take a week to examine what went wrong and what they can do to avoid those mistakes again.

Can he recover? Of course he can. One of Newt's strongest points has been his ability to ride out a rough patch and emerge to drive down the highway at full speed.

The bigger question is: After not running for public office since 1998, has he lost a step so that his full speed isn't fast enough anymore?

It may well be that Newt Gingrich is like the NFL quarterback or Major League pitcher who comes out of retirement but finds, not a return to the glory days, but that the game has passed him by.

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