Can Gingrich learn the art of skillful losing?

Updated
Can Gingrich learn the art of skillful losing?
Can Gingrich learn the art of skillful losing?
Robin Nelson/ZumaPress

On Sunday morning, it seemed odd that Newt Gingrich was not on TV. The weekend after his primary losses in must-win Mississippi and Georgia, he was not featured on a guest on any of the Sunday-morning news programs (including ours, though he’s welcome), even though he made news that week by essentially telling us how he plans to lose.

Like a fourth-place team in September, the disgraced former House speaker has been reduced to playing spoiler:

Appearing on a radio show Wednesday morning in Chicago, Gingrich talked about the results in Alabama and Mississippi – where he came in second to former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania – as if he and Santorum were a kind of conservative tag team. “Between the two of us last night we got two-thirds of the delegates that were available…”

Yes, that’s weak sauce you’re sniffing. It seems this is an actual Gingrich talking point; he used the same strange math in his speech Tuesday night. (The Mets don’t have have 27 additional World Series titles, by virtue of also having “NY” on their caps.) It’s bad enough that Gingrich lost states he staked his campaign upon; he compounded his loss by trying to put his arm around Rick Santorum, a fellow Real Conservative™ that some guy named Newt Gingrich called a “big-labor Republican” not a month ago. Bygones?

But given that Gingrich’s goal has been reduced to keeping Mitt Romney from getting 1,144 delegates, the magic number he needs to win the nomination – wouldn’t getting out of the race and pledging his support (and delegates) to Santorum actually be the best way to increase the slim odds of a brokered convention? Why doesn’t he save all the buddy-buddy, “we really got him, didn’t we?” lines from Tuesday, and get out?

It’s because we in the media have met the enemy, and it is us. Gingrich, campaigning in Illinois, site of tomorrow’s primary:

“The thing I find most disheartening of this campaign is the difficulty of talking about large ideas on a large scale, because the news media can’t cover it and candidly, my opponents can’t comprehend it.”

As David Carr put it today, “We in the media are too dumb to adequately report his message, and even if we were able to, his opponents would fail to get it.” Maybe that’s why he didn’t appear on Sunday morning shows.

Gingrich clearly sees himself as an iconoclast, a unique figure in history. His fate in this campaign may be decided on Tuesday in Illinois, but what about beyond that? Along with “Almost Famous” author Scott Farris and Citizen Radio co-host and reporter Allison Kilkenny, Melissa explored how presidential losers affect history long after they’re done.

 

Can Gingrich learn the art of skillful losing?

Updated