December 15, 2011

#Newt, it's your turn to slip

Fig Newton Gingrich
Ron "Who Am I?" Paul
In what could be called regression to the mean within the GOP, or just regression to the mean GOP, Newt Gingrich is doing the same thing Rick Perry, Herman Cain and others did: sliding backward in Iowa after a quick peek.

How bad? Bad enough the caucuses could be a three-way tie, with every establishment GOPer's nightmare of Ron Paul being one of those three.

Per the first link, Newt's relative lack of time in Iowa plus his past support for a Mitt Romney/Barack Obama individual health care mandate are both becoming stumbling blocks. The latter? "Newt Romney" comments are starting to bite. The former? A campaign thin in staff and budget can't change that a lot in the few days left.

Besides that, Newt may be having his Freddie Mac connections about to blow up in his face, with an SEC fraud lawsuit filing against former Fannie and Freddie execs.

I would sooo laugh my head off if this happened, a three-way tie. I'm sure someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue would chuckle a bit, at least, two. Odds of the top three candidates all finishing within 4 percentage points, from first down to third? One in ten, right now, I'd say.

And, there's Newt-vs-Newt: National Review still doesn't trust him as a flip-flopper. And I don't think it is alone.

I think, viscerally, Paul probably dislikes Gingrich most of all the GOP candidates. We've not seen any fake cameraderie, like Romney's approach to Perry, between the two. I would suspect that die-hard Paul-tards write off Romney's shellacked slickness as part of his package, but, really reserve their fire for Gingrich as a man trying to have it both ways.

Meanwhile, for those Paul-tards boo-hooing that their candidate doesn't get enough media attention, watch out: You might just get what you wish for, and, per this analysis, he might have his own meltdown. But, he's already been outspoken on war and civil liberties issues at one debate, at least; contra Dean Baker, I doubt more media spotlight on Paul would shake up the GOP much.

More fun: Tricky Ricky Perry, acknowledging he's not gaining new traction in Iowa, says finishing fourth won't push him out. I'm sure he's betting in part on Texas keeping at least its presidential primary on the date now set. More fun yet: Jon Huntsman has passed Paul in New Hampshire.

That could lead to the GOP's worst nightmare yet: Paul winning Iowa and crossover votes pushing Huntsman to No. 2, at least, in the Granite State. Huntsman's still got a ways to go to move to No. 2, but, it's possible.

If that happened, could we have Chris Christie rethink again? A "favorite son" candidate elsewhere? Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, my comments on the last pre-caucuses debate below the fold.

First, it's clear Faux News is hitching its wagon to Newt, based on post-debate interviews.

Second, tonight's theme seemed to be, in part, who can either be most ignorant of, or most willfully disparaging of, the Constitution.

Perry wins for talking about abolishing life tenure for judges as if it were something the president could do unilaterally, without constitutional amendment.

Perry takes second for proposing a part-time Congress, ignoring that per the Constitution, Article 1, Congress is pretty much master of its own domain unless called into executive session.

Newt violated the spirit of separation of powers, as Paul noted.

Bachmann can't even spell "constitution."

Third, I think Gingrich the stubborn was on display tonight. So was Romney the plastic, and "There I go again" Perry. Paul and Huntsman probably benefited most, followed perhaps by the Minnesota Queen.

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