Hot Shot to No Shot

04.26.12

The Song of Newt Gingrich: From Longshot To Hotshot To No Shot

“Newt mocked & railed & condescended/Now the race has been upended”—Elinor Lipman sings the song of Newt.

By Elinor Lipman

Ten months ago, feeling an urge to tweet but worried that the whole enterprise could be vain and self-involved, I decided to write one political rhyming tweet per day until November 6. That was 306 days ago, and I've skipped only Yom Kippur. I started with a rich cast of characters: Herman Cain, the Bachmanns, the Palins, a Trump, two Ricks, Jon H., Dr. Paul, and Mitt—a scannable and rhymable bunch. I’ve kept my distance from moon, June, spoon, while working in rhymes for Ahmadinejad, Uzbekistan, and Blagojevich.  To my surprise, rhyming "Santorum" with "Purim" proved very popular with readers.

Our former speaker with his one-, two-, and three-syllable options (Newt, Gingrich, Callista) has been a boon and a doggerel blessing. The quatrains that follow (the Beast supplied the brief sentence before each poem setting the scene) were my efforts to keep up as he yo-yoed from longshot to hotshot to no shot. I shall miss him.

June 30: Newt’s campaign, yet to gain any traction, seems sunk when his political team quits en masse.

Where is Newt? I miss the strife
His shrunken staff, his hungry wife
Inflame & chafe!/Stay in the race!
It's only up from dead-last place.

November 12: Newt begins his first climb up the polls, as allegations of sexual harassment sink Herman Cain.

Who's sitting pretty in the race?
It's Newt who's now in 2d place.
He must believe that we forgot/How many jewels Callista bought.

November 17: Newt tries to explain to voters why he was paid $1.6 million by Freddie Mac for his services as an historian.

Dear Freddie Mac, it's me, your Newt.
I want to thank you for the loot.
Who knew that history could sell?
Too bad it isn't playing well.

November 27: Newt’s lucrative career after leaving the House raises eyebrows.

Consultant this, consultant that.
His big head wears a dozen hats.
Milk every theme but kitchen sink
& run for prez as "Gingrich, Inc."

November 28: Newt scores the coveted New Hampshire endorsement of the Manchester Union.

Big endorsement snagged by Newt,
Giving Mitt the front-page boot.
But who else did that paper flaunt?
Buchanan, Forbes, Pierre DuPont.

December 1: Newt’s career as a professional historian continues drawing scrutiny.

Professor Newt, he loves to teach
For only 60K per speech.
When you're rich, you need not lobby.
Sell ideas, but call it "hobby."

December 8: Newt rises to the top of the national polls.

Newt's way ahead in every state.
So who will be his running mate?
For balance, no one sharp or rich
I'm thinking Rod Blagojevich.

December 9: Newt, now the frontrunner, continues to make time to make money. mingling with the state’s voters.

With Iowa a month away
What 's on tap for Newt today?
At a store to pimp the mission:
Sell copies of the new edition.

December 10: Newt and Rick Santorum are the last two candidates to remain committed to the (eventually cancelled) Donald Trump-moderated debate.

Trump's debate is down to 2
All but Newt & Rick withdrew.
I'm worried that it might fall thru
Perhaps it could be pay-per-view.

December 11: Newt indulges a rare moment of silence.

A big exchange at 12th debate
On who's been faithful to their mates
5 spoke of vows, then looked at Newt
First time his bio left him mute.

December 19: Newt sinks back down in the polls.

In Iowa it's all reversed
Ron Paul has taken over 1st.
Air's leaking out of Newt's balloon
Farewell, late surge! You came too soon.

December 22: Newt, hammered by attack ads and down in the polls, lashes out.

Attack ads boosting Dr. Paul
Now Gingrich is above it all
Too statesmanlike to vent his spleen?
But buddy, you invented "mean."

December 28: Newt’s new pitch: only he can expose Obama in a one-on-one debate. (But he settles for Jon Huntsman.)

The Gingrich cry: "Let's set a date!
"A Lincoln-Douglas-style debate!"
"90 minutes to the wall—"
So sure he'll beat the pants off all.

December 29: Newt’s poll plunge continues.

For Gingrich not a happy phase:
Down 20 points in 20 days.
How to handle such a wobble?
Better buy the wife a bauble.

January 13: Newt’s superPAC aims a scathing attack on Mitt Romney’s record as CEO of Bain Capital.

Newt's latest ad attacking Mitt
Exposes why the guy's unfit:
Besides the sins of Bain finance
The traitor speaks la langue de France.

January 17: Newt calls Obama “the food stamp president” to the delight of the partisan South Carolina debate crowd.

The audience was loving Newt
Finding racist quips so cute.
"Food Stamp Prez!” That really played
& bigotry was on parade.

January 22: Newt rises, again, with a surprise win in South Carolina.

Newt mocked & railed & condescended
Now the race has been upended
It all came down to one debate
& Carolina bought the hate.

January 27: Newt, needing to pick up more momentum, instead falls flat at a Florida debate.

So very rich! Last night's debate!
Wolfe Blitzer came to moderate
He fired back when Gingrich pounced
And Romney's comeback was announced.

January 31: Newt, again falling, desperately appeals to Florida’s Jewish population.

Pandering—thy name is Newt
In Florida, will it bear fruit
So obvious it does amuse:
"Mitt cut Kosher meals for Jews!"

February 1: Newt loses Florida, but you’d never know it from his speech that night.

Newt ungracious in defeat,
Inauguration plans complete
So positive he will succeed
Forgot he lost & should concede.

February 14: Newt channels cupid.

Callista, please be mine forever
When will I forsake you? Never!
Yes, I had a marriage spree
But Valentine, it stops at 3.

February 19: Newt wins the backing of former candidate Herman Cain.

Is Gingrich going down the drain
Despite the boost from Herman Cain?
I miss the mission to the moon
& hair that holds in a typhoon.

February 23: Newt, in the final GOP debate, is asked to define himself in one word, and chooses “cheerful.”

Oh really, Newt? When asked to tell
One word that sums you up quite well
You answered "cheerful" with a smile
You? The poster child for bile.

March 5: Newt wins his home state of Georgia, but loses everywhere else on Super Tuesday.

Be prepared: It will be tough
Watching Gingrich strut his stuff
Stay tuned to hear him bloviate
On narrow win in his home state.

March 8: Newt and Rick Santorum each encourage the other to drop out to allow the “anti-Romney vote” to consolidate.

Back & forth, the two teams shout:
You get out, no YOU get out!
Newt tells Rick he'd sweep the Right
Rick tells Newt: Go fly a kite.

March 12: Newt hints he may name Texas governor Rick Perry, fresh from his own failed presidential run, as his running mate.

Have you heard the speculation,
The rumor now in circulation:
Perry runs with Newt this Fall
Malaprop meets know-it-all.

March 14: Newt vows to press on after Santorum wins Mississippi and Alabama in a surprise sweep.

Santorum had a two-win night
& not one pollster got it right
Of course we get the Gingrich spin:
Brilliant Me is staying in.

March 21: Newt finishes fourth in Illinois.

So Romney wins. No big surprise
In 2nd, Mr. Moralize
But who should take a curtain call?
It's Newt in 4th behind Ron Paul.

March 25: Newt presses on

If spying on the Gingrich camp
Would we see an exit ramp?
Does ANY outcome cause self-doubt?
Can Newt pronounce, "We should get out"?

March 27: Newt slams the president’s response to the slaying of Trayvon Martin.

"A son of mine would look like that…"
& Gingrich takes it to the mat
"Appalling!" does not fit the bill
For crime evoking Emmett Till.

March 29: Newt, desperate for cash, charges supporters $50 to have their photo taken with him.

Pose with Gingrich & his bride!
A souvenir pre-Newticide:
For 50 bucks a photo op
Quick before he closes shop.

March 30: Newt and Mitt have a secret meeting in New Orleans.

It's been confirmed: a secret meet
In New Orleans, a hotel suite
Newt & Romney 'round a table
There's a ticket: Cain & Abel.

April 9: Newt seems sunk, but presses on.

Sinking Gingrich still won't quit
His mission only: torment Mitt
He claims the urge to reassess
Is purely in the heads of press.

April 17: Newt, now splitting his time between campaigning for president and visiting zoos, is bit by a penguin.

Bit by penguin at the zoo
What's a candidate to do?
Soon the bird wrote in his blog
"Newt tastes like an underdog."

April 23: The high cost of Newt.

Newt, you're costing us too much
Can't your PAC at least go Dutch?
For Secret Service every day
Our taxes shell out $40K.

April 26: Newt gives in.

Reasons for my Gingrich blues
No lunar dreams or Grecian cruise
No credit line from Tiffany's
No saintly wife, his former squeeze.

April 29: Newt delays the inevitable.
Mitt must wait to get a bounce,
Newt says Wednesday he'll announce.
Extension, please; he needs a day,
Before he PACs his dream away.

May 2: Farewell, Newt.
Farewell to Newt & current Mrs!
But wait, his verb choice is suspicious.
"Suspend" in lieu of "Now I quit"?
Also missing:"Vote for Mitt."

Elinor Lipman is the author of 10 works of fiction,  most recently The Family Man.  She is the 2011-2012 Elizabeth Drew Professor of Creative Writing at Smith College, and only a special-occasion poet.  Her next novel, The View from Penthouse B, and a collection of essays, I Can't Complain, will be published next spring. Follow her daily rhyming political tweets @elinorlipman.