Newt Gingrich launching presidential exploratory committee for attention

Two years of relentless media encouragement pay off as press darling Gingrich gets a bit more serious about 2012

By Alex Pareene
March 1, 2011 10:01PM (UTC)
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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (AP)

Disgraced former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will officially launch a presidential exploratory committee, according to ABC and the National Journal. In the elaborate game of chicken that Gingrich plays with a presidential run every couple years, this is the closest he's ever come to a full-on collision. Who will blink first: Gingrich, or reality?

In an important sense, the press is responsible for this. They are the ones who have been begging him to run for two years. They are the ones who ignore the fact that Gingrich has been playing this game since 1995. ( "House Speaker Newt Gingrich [R-Ga.] said Saturday he believes he has until mid-December to decide whether to run for president in 1996.")


Newt is really just fulfilling the destiny laid out for him when Matt Bai wrote a zillion words about his new way forward for the party for the New York Times Magazine in February 2009. That profile cemented the narrative of Gingrich the Serious-Minded Contender With Big Ideas. He's not like those other jokers!

Except he's exactly like those other jokers. He just wears glasses and releases books proposing stunt solutions to serious problems. ("Drill here, drill now" was him. Instead of stimulus, how about we suspend all taxes on everything for a year!)

No on in America actually likes him that much. Romney would trounce him in New Hampshire. Huckabee or even Pawlenty would beat him in Iowa. Gingrich is smart enough to know all of this. He is just counting on the fact that the press isn't.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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