Gingrich Makes it Semi-Official

From Fox News:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich plans to announce Thursday that he will begin raising money to test whether a bid for the Republican presidential nomination is feasible.

Spokesman Rick Tyler confirmed to Fox News that Gingrich is in the exploratory phase, which he will discuss at a news conference at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta…

In a lot of ways, Newt Gingrich is the most intelligent and knowledgeable man in American politics. A man of deep historical knowledge and a well-trained ability to take disparate events and facts and produce a coherent picture, Gingrich would be a President who could easily navigate through the troubles we have, and those which are rapidly brewing. But, can he be elected President?

Gingrich was once the hero, then the goat – defeated men are not usually turned to as leaders. Winston Churchill was an exception to this rule – suffering crushing, and partially undeserved, failure at an early age, he had to struggle for two decades to regain the stature needed to lead his nation. Most of the time, you don’t get two bites at the apple. Gingrich can overcome this, but it would take a near perfect campaign and several things out of his control breaking his way.

First and foremost, he’ll have to overcome lingering GOP doubts about him. He’s had his moral failings in the past (and they are, now, very much in the past – Gingrich has grown a great deal since leaving office as Speaker in this area) and that causes worry. No matter how long ago or how irrelevant to current events, Democrats will dredge up whatever mud they can. As a deeply polarizing figure in American politics, there is also the worry that Gingrich won’t be able to sufficiently appeal to Independents and disaffected Democrats to beat Obama. The final thing here is that Gingrich is a bit of yesterday’s news – there are a lot of stellar up-and-comers in the GOP whom Gingrich will have to elbow aside.

Supposing Gingrich does make it to the nomination, his problem will become one of how to attack Obama without offending people in the process. Don’t let our GOP anger over Obama fool you on this – Obama is still well-liked by the American people and while that may change by 2012, we have to presume that he’ll still have a reservoir of good will to draw upon. You don’t want to just hack away at Obama – you have to present him to the American people as a well meaning yet out of his depth President. A fine man, but no man to lead us out of this morass. All the while Gingrich is doing this, he’ll have to manfully stand up to the most nasty slanders imaginable against not just himself, but against everyone remotely connected to him. The nastiness will never (or, at least, almost never) come from Obama directly – but it will be relentless.

And then, with all that, Gingrich will have to lay out a compelling agenda for the American people. This is actually Gingrich’s greatest strength – his ability to create a narrative and explain to people why they should go his way. Any GOPer who thinks he or she can coast to victory on anti-Obama sentiment is likely to wind up disappointed. If it turns out there is 10% unemployment and inflation by October of 2012, that is fine – we’ll win it in a walkover…but don’t work on any such assumption. Work along the lines of things at least appearing to improve, with massive, pro-Obama propaganda in the MSM telling everyone that things are coming up roses. In such a scenario, only the strongest, most believable and most American sort of message will do. Whomever we nominate will have to commune with the shade of Ronald Reagan a great deal.

I wish Gingrich well in this. I’ll be delighted if he pulls it off – it would be nice to have someone who understands the United States and the world backwards and forwards as President. I don’t think he can do it, however. Time will tell.