Newt Gingrich May Have Set Political-Obit Speed Record

May 18, 2011

It's a week since Newt Gingrich launched his presidential campaign and already his political obituaries are springing up all over the place like the dandelions in my yard.

That the obituaries are happening isn't a surprise, mind you. Gingrich wasn't exactly a frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He was already a candidate with issues, to put it politely, before his most recent gaffe.

Any presidential candidate for whom you can get nearly 67,000 hits in nine-hundredths of a second by googling his surname and the phrase "too much baggage" (actually, I expected more) probably will have political obits written about him before the presidential primaries are over.

But Gingrich didn't get to the one-week mark of his campaign before apparently fatally wounding it.

Heck, he didn't even get through the weekend that followed his announcement before essentially being written off after he dismissed the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the House GOP's plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program as "right-wing social engineering."

Charles Krauthammer, the medical doctor and conservative pundit, pronounced him politically dead over the weekend, which makes it official since, again, Krauthammer is a physician.

KRAUTHAMMER: "He's done. He didn't have a big chance from the beginning, but now it's over."

Conservative media luminaries Rush Limbaugh, George Will and William Bennett evidently all agree with Krauthammer.

Meanwhile, the practicing politicians appear to be saying the same thing. Politico quotes the House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor, who presumably has a good feel for what his GOP members are thinking and saying about Gingrich:

"Many have said now he's finished," (House Majority Leader Eric) Cantor said in a radio interview, stopping short of endorsing that analysis but calling Gingrich's comments "a tremendous misspeak."

Perhaps most tellingly, not a single prominent Republican has rallied to Gingrich's defense – a testament to the regard in which Gingrich is held by much of the Beltway GOP establishment.

Nice touch by Cantor, using the "many have said" formulation to deliver the coup de grace without getting his hands dirty.

Gingrich has apologized and tried to undo the damage. But there's really no way to say sorry from beyond the grave, political or real.

Instead of being on an inexorable path to the glittering prize of the GOP nomination, all he appears to be getting is glitter.

Or bling, according to his wife Callista's congressional disclosure form (she was a Capitol Hill staffer) in which she reported that her husband owed as much as $500,000 to Tiffany's.

Despite all the political obits, if any group of people hopes the never-boring Gingrich hangs in there and stays the course, it's political reporters. The reason's go without saying; he's good copy. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit