Let's assume that the polls are right and Mitt Romney beats Newt Gingrich in Florida tomorrow. Newt will come before the cameras and say that it happened because The Establishment did him in. Will he be right? Or will it be something a little less conspiratorial?
If there was a single moment in this campaign in which a candidate declared, "Here's a position that almost every American will find completely insane, but I'm taking it because Barack Obama sucks," it would have to be the time in one of the debates when Rick Perry declared that not only was he bummed that the Iraq war was over, but "I would send troops back to Iraq." Even his Republican opponents obviously thought that was crazy.
Despite the fact that Newt Gingrich has been in Washington since 1979 and makes his living as the head of an only-in-DC network of "think" tanks, media production companies, and influence-peddling operations that together form what I like to call GloboNewtCorp, he is now running as the enemy of the elite Washington establishment. Sure, it's because it's always fashionable to present yourself as an outsider, and Newt has no identity unless he's somebody's enemy. But there's also an element of truth beneath all that posturing. The Republican establishment really does want him to lose. It isn't because they fear his transformative vision of transformative transformation, as Newt would have people believe.
As we watch the Republican primary come down to a contest between (to caricature for a moment) a fight between the flip-flopping, wooden, private equity gazillionaire and the repellent, philandering, pompous influence-peddler, Democrats can't quite figure out who they want to win this race. On one hand, the path to Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney is absolutely clear: he's the candidate of the 1 percent whose lust for power will lead him to say anything to anyone. On the other hand, it's harder to tell what an anti-Newt Gingrich campaign would be like, since there are so many awful things about him to attack. But this makes me wonder: Is this how Republicans felt four years ago?