Considering that we're talking about a man whose entire political career and personal life have been marred by disgrace, monetary excess, shameless profiteering, and other episodes you think we couldn't even make up if we tried, you'd be excused for asking what on earth Newt Gingrich could possibly do to make things worse for himself politically. It seems that the answer is simple: run for president.
The Atlantic's Molly Ball recently wrote one of the more fascinating pieces about the suddenly invisible Gingrich, noting while he lost his shot at the White House a while back, he's losing a lot more: Fox News gig, newly defunct consulting enterprises, book sales, and even that $1 million credit line at Tiffany & Co. that became so famous. Even a penguin bit him at the zoo, drawing blood -- and that was one of the most press-worthy things his campaign has produced lately (and they knew it too, encouraging Twitter retweets of a Newt-with-animals photo gallery on BuzzFeed that mocked him).
But it was this episode, captured as he campaigned for one of Tuesday's northeast corridor primaries, that spoke the most volumes:
At the dinner in Lancaster, Romney spoke near the beginning of the program, Gingrich after the dinner and appearances by a parade of down-ballot Pennsylvania candidates. Half the press had left, but the crowd of several hundred stayed and listened politely. Afterward, in the basement room with the yellow couch, Gingrich took questions from reporters, gamely laying out his hopes for winning Tuesday's primary in Delaware. Though he keeps hope alive, he has acknowledged he's unlikely to get the nomination at this point. Given that, I asked him, what does he think the future holds? What is his Plan B after this?
"I don't think about it, frankly," he said, fixing me with his powerfully quizzical stare. "I'm quite happy with my Plan A."
He's thinking about it now. "I think we need to take a deep look at what we are doing," Newt Gingrich told NBC News in an exclusive interview today. No kidding. It's about time that he starts showing hints that he's seeing what most everyone saw a while ago. Gingrich was in Delaware when he gave that interview because of its winner-take-all primary tomorrow; he seems to be pushing whatever chips he has left to the center of that table. But his having gone for broke may mean that we'll soon see him selling his hair to a wig shop, politically speaking.
Another Republican showing signs of getting it is Jon Huntsman, whose abortive presidential campaign resembled what Gingrich's has become, just longer. In an interview with at the 92nd Street Y Monday night, Huntsman put his own party on full blast:
Huntsman, the former Utah governor and once President Barack Obama's Ambassador to China, expressed disappointment that the Republican Party disinvited him from a Florida fundraiser in March after he publicly called for a third party.
"This is what they do in China on party matters, they punish you, if you talk off script," he said.
He also admitted to selling out to the hard Right in order to convince exactly no one:
Huntsman said he regrets his decision to oppose a 10-to-1 spending cuts to tax increase deal to cut the deficit at the Iowa debate lamenting: “if you can only do certain things over again in life.”
"What went through my head was if I veer at all from my pledge not to raise any taxes…then I’m going to have to do a lot of explaining," he explained. "What was going through my mind was 'don't I just want to get through this?'"
That decision, Huntsman said, "has caused me a lot of heartburn.”
He also agreed with his former boss that Ronald Reagan would "likely not" win a Republican primary, but that he'd still stick with the presumptive nominee in the current primary, Mitt Romney. So, Just in case you thought Huntsman had actually taken the red pill and left the GOP Matrix, there was this:
But Huntsman said Romney has to campaign on more than fear, and provide a positive alternative to Obama.
“He’ll have to work hard on making sure that happens,” he said.
Considering that Romney is awfully busy busy dog-whistling about the President, I'm not optimistic. More on that later.