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“that same unhealthy, irrational need to hurl himself higher onto the slopes of history”

“that same unhealthy, irrational need to hurl himself higher onto the slopes of history”

It’s not sufficient for a presidential candidate as Obama has demonstrated, but it is necessary for victory.

Here’s Nate Silver’s take on why Newt is likely to be the last “anti-Romney” (I don’t like that term, I prefer “not-Romney” because one doesn’t need to be against Romney to be a viable alternative):

And so here we come to Mr. Gingrich, whose chief attribute all these years — aside from a formidable intellect and a ruthless need to anticipate public opinion — has been the will to endure. He could have shriveled up and left town after his speakership imploded in 1998. Instead, he moved over K Street and ultimately reinvented himself as a political entrepreneur.

He could have quit, as Mr. Pawlenty did, when his campaign hobbled pathetically out of the gate, when his longtime aides quit en masse and the money dried up and he was sleeping in guest rooms because it sure beat the rental car. He probably should have quit, really.

But it turns out that what Mr. Gingrich lacks in glamour or novelty, he makes up for in his sheer imperviousness to humiliation. He didn’t mind getting in the race when even some of his friends thought it self-indulgent. He didn’t mind staying in when the polls showed him barely existing and the commentators mocked him or — worse yet — forgot him altogether. Prudence isn’t his thing.

And don’t kid yourself: in a lot of the candidates whom we later come to think of as gifted and innately credible, this is the characteristic that gets overlooked….

That’s not to say that Mr. Gingrich is following anything like the same trajectory as a Clinton or a Nixon; his campaign still feels more like a protest than a cause. But he has that same unhealthy, irrational need to hurl himself higher onto the slopes of history, no matter what good sense would dictate, no matter what the damage to reputation or privacy.

Determination and personal demons are worth more than you might think in presidential politics. We’re about to find out how much.

With Newt now statistically even with Obama (i.e., slightly ahead) in the latest Rasmussen national poll, and doing well in a variety of state polls, that slope of history is coming into view.

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Comments

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.”

One of my all-time favorite quotes. He said it after he was defeated, just before he quit, after which he was finished. But still, he makes a good point…

I don’t think Newt is like Reagan in the sense this isn’t about self aggrandizement, its about needing to do something when everything is falling apart. The last election was all about style with absolutely no substance, and at the time everyone felt thats is what every election was going to be like. But the way the Republican debates started and where they are now, is showing that there is a craving for substance beyond the soundbites. At first glance, polished and shallow politics governed and now its turning into a substantive, and for the most part honest slug fest. That’s whats driving the party right now, people want someone with a deep well of intelligence and experience, and it looks like that will either be Romney or Newt.

Reagan’s refusal to quit against Ford in 1976 arguably enhanced his credibility in 1980. (It also weakened Ford, but not fatally: the latter was done by Ford himself.)

Similarly, Hillary’s 2008 refusal to quit against Obama has enhanced her future prospects and iconic status among Democrats.

Americans respect tenacity against the odds. When conservatives display it, the Left tries hard to squelch them as crazy or evil.

With the election cycle so long, and the ability of a first term President getting things accomplished shrinking, I wonder what would be the singular important goal of each candidate? Obama ended up making health care his main task, out of his 1000+ promises, and it seems that’s all he could do along with the stimulus packages.

So, if Newt Gingrich became President, would he focus on health care (again), another conflict in the middle east, an exotic energy policy, or a new tax scheme? Because in this day and age a new President only gets to shoot once and if he misses, it’s over – there are very few second chances, aside from appointments to the Supreme Court, et al.

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