Three weeks ago, just after Barack Obama's "long-form birth certificate" press conference (and boy does that seem like a long time ago), I argued that a lot of the blame for the whole embarrassing* "birther" diversion lay with the press. I meant not just the familiar general foibles of the media but the specific inflation of Donald Trump's "campaign," including covering his zany proposals ("let's just take Iraq's oil!") and birther-style allegations as if they represented something real:
>>5) Speaking of carnival barkers: Every member of the political press knows that the chance of Donald Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States is zero. I say that the chance of Sarah Palin becoming president is extremely low but greater than zero. I will take any bet at any odds against Trump becoming president, for reasons I'll boil down to this: the same circumstances that would make Obama so vulnerable that a Trump could beat him (economic, political, military, or social chaos of any kind you want to imagine), would simultaneously motivate the Republican party to choose a "real" candidate with the best chance of winning the election and running the government. That is, if the Republicans think they have a serious chance to win, they're not going to blow that chance with Trump.<<
Newt Gingrich's campaign [AP photo below] presents the national press with the next version of this challenge.
Every member of the political press corps knows that the chance of Newt Gingrich becoming the 45th President of the United States is zero. I am a great believer in the unpredictability of politics, but -- I will take any bet at any odds against Newt Gingrich assuming office in 2013. The problem is not just the conundrum that faced Trump: the very circumstances that would make Obama so weak that someone like Trump or Gingrich could beat him, would prevent the Republican party from blowing that opportunity by nominating a Gingrich or Trump. The deeper problem for Gingrich is that, shaky as his support might be on the left, the people who really hate him are in his own party. Viz. the fights that have broken out in his "campaign's" first days over his criticism of the GOP/Ryan budget, his advocacy of the individual mandate in medical care plans, etc. (By contrast, many Democrats have had affable relations with him over the years. I knew and liked him during the "defense reform" campaigns of the 1980s.) He last ran for office in 1998. And to say that Gingrich has "personal issues" that could cause problems in a campaign -- well, let's just say, he has them.