It is my sad duty to report that Republicans -- even ultra-conservative tea party loons and people who should know better -- are lost. In a desperate bid to dodge Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate, many are embracing, unbelievably, Newt Gingrich.
If Gingrich wins the GOP nod, Barack Obama gets the keys to Air Force One for four more years. Guaranteed. That's right, the most bumbling, lying, ineffectual socialist to camp out in the White House -- yes, Jimmy Carter was better -- would grind the former House speaker into a greasy spot on the election trail.
Why would any sane person queue up behind Gingrich rather than Romney? Religious bigotry? Resentment of Romney's wealth? His nice-guy timidity in what surely will be a street fight? His centrist views? All of the above?
Gingrich is Romney's jowly, thuggish antithesis -- rumpled hypocrisy on anabolic steroids, a narcissist's narcissist and arguably a borderline wacko. In a 1992 note to himself, buried in a 1997 House Ethics Committee report dug out by Examiner columnist Gene Healy, he wrote, "Gingrich -- primary mission, Advocate of civilization, definer of civilization, Teacher of the rules of civilization, arouser of those who fan civilization, ... leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."
Gingrich, while cheating on one of his phalanx of wives, attacked Bill Clinton for being sexually sleazy. He attacked Big Government, but later traded on his name and contacts for cash -- $1.2 million from the government-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac, a major player in the housing market crash, and $312,000 from the ethanol lobby. While House speaker, he was disciplined by his own party for an ethics violation -- the first time that had happened in the history of that body. He was fined $300,000. Then there is the Tiffany jewelry thing. But all that barely scratches the surface.
Gingrich, with a Frank Murkowski-esque disapproval rating, is not a conservative; he is a progressive. He is a saber rattler and an intellectual goon. If one of his former wives is to be believed, he has the morals of a piano player in a house of ill repute; the honor of a chimpanzee. Unliked and unlikable by all except unions and Dems praying he will be the GOP pick.
Yet, Republicans -- you can understand such goofiness from Democrats -- are flocking to Gingrich. Why?
Rasmussen Reports shows 34 percent of likely voters think it would be nifty if another candidate joined the GOP's presidential nomination contest. While it would be absolutely stupid for another candidate to jump in (take note, Ms. Sarah), the poll indicates there remains a vestigial longing among some in the GOP for somebody, anybody, else.
Republicans are seeking a fighter, like Gollum searched for the Ring. Many see Romney as a nice guy, seemingly embarrassed because he is Mormon, white, rich and smart, a guy waiting for the other shoe to drop. If he is to succeed, that must stop. He's gotta be da man. He has to channel Ronald Reagan and John Wayne and one of the guys in "Steel Skullsmash," or whatever the latest cage-fighting craze happens to be. He must be them all -- now.
The Rominator needs to look his audience in the eye and be the warrior they want, the warrior they need: "Yeah, I'm filthy rich, and I'm proud of it. So what? I've made money, gobs of it, for me and others. I've helped companies so they could hire you. I made gazillions. I know how it is done. I am, by God, a capitalist. I paid the taxes owed on what I made and gave tons to charity. My wife knows where I am at night, and I know what success outside government looks like. My opponent does not. Beyond that, I can fix this mess; he cannot."
Then attack, never acknowledge a hit, never look back. No hesitation. No mincing words. No being a nice guy. Put Gingrich on his heels; never let up. Be the guy who looks and sounds and struts like he could lead the Free World, like the guy who demands to lead the Free World. Walk the talk.
Voters want to know one thing about the eventual GOP pick: Can he rid us of Obama? The Rominator must show them he can.
If he fails, if Gingrich wins the GOP nomination, the left wins, Obama wins.
The nation loses.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.