With Iowa looming, the Republican establishment is reeling at the possibility of Newt Gingrich emerging as its standard bearer. It’s not that party leaders fear the former speaker will fail to beat President Obama but rather that he might succeed, thus saddling them with Newt’s special blend of bombast, volatility, and megalomania for the next four to eight years.
Not since Beltway denizens awaited release of the Washington madame’s little black book has the per capita consumption of Klonopin soared to such heights.
Of course, in politics, three weeks is an eternity—more than enough time for GOP poobahs to help their preferred candidate, Mitt Romney, regain his mojo. Admittedly, the governor’s enduring failure to excite voters poses a challenge, but the threat of a Newtpocalypse gives sufficient urgency to the cause. Among the more creative ways in which Romney could triumph almost certainly not being discussed in the clubby backrooms of the nation’s capital:
1. Mitt has a boatload of money. He should stop wasting his time taunting Rick Perry with penny-ante bets and put his lucre to good use. For starters, he could finance a series of up-close-and-personal, get-to-know you retreats between voters and Gingrich—who, it is fairly apparent, will do anything if you pay him enough. Romney maybe a tad awkward with the retail politics, but Newt has the distinction of being loathed by pretty much everyone who has ever worked with him. To paraphrase Peggy Noonan, to know him is to hate him. This is special, even in Washington.
2. Better yet, Romney could huddle up with some of Newt’s old colleagues to create an “It Gets Worse” ad campaign based on the “It Gets Better” spots aimed at gay youth. Just picture conservative icons like Dick Armey or Tom Delay or Tom Coburn or Jim Talent gazing earnestly into the camera and cautioning: If you think Newt is spouting some crazy shit now, just wait til he settles that doughy butt in the Big Chair. Trust me. I’ve watched him up close, and it’s terrifying. The guy has the stability of a nitroglycerine martini. And God save us from those Big Ideas. Give this guy the reins and we’ll be launching poor orphans into space to mine magnesium on Mars before you can say Boys Town!
3. He could hire the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to follow Gingrich around singing “Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady” at campaign stops. Too subtle? How about having Ann Romney show up at Callista’s events waving Tiffany’s bags and belting out Jessie J: “Ain’t about the (uh!) cha-ching cha-ching. Ain’t about the (yeah!) ba-bling ba-bling.”
4. Forget Marco Rubio. In a naked play to win over Newt fans, Mitt should promise to tap Michael Sorrentino, a.k.a. The Situation, as his running mate. Jersey Shore’s über-guido is cocky, combative, offensive, slutty, lacks all self-awareness, and talks about himself in the third person. It would be just like having Gingrich as VP—except that, with Sorrentino, every now and again Mitt might get a word in edgewise.
5. If the going really gets tough, Romney can always get cracking with the computer manipulation. Risky, dishonest, and unethical? You betcha. But desperate times ... Print up a birth certificate showing that Newt was born in France. Forge documents detailing his days with the Weathermen. Fake a pic of him and Larry Craig strolling through the Minneapolis airport. If the image of Newt and Nancy Pelosi perched together on a couch gets conservatives’ blood boiling, just imagine what a “photo” of them getting freaky in a hot tub could do.
6. Alternatively, Mitt could offer to donate $1 million to Dan Savage’s favorite charity if Savage will do, in Google search terms, for the word “Gingrich” what he did for “Santorum.”
7. Or he could blanket Tea Party country with bumper stickers proclaiming: “Newt Gingrich, Official Historian of Freddie Mac.”
8. Or have House Speaker John Boehner introduce a bill to outlaw adverbs in this campaign, thus rendering Newt mute.
Or perhaps wisest of all, Romney could just kick back, crack open a cold one, and do nothing. This is Newt we’re talking about here, a man who self-destructs the way most of us breathe. Already, polls show that his numbers in Iowa are sagging. Why? Because he’s started showing up there! And as already noted, nothing sours people on Gingrich faster than actually meeting him.
Relax, all you nail-biting establishment types. Newt is on the job.