Aloha, Newt

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 17 2011 2:16 PM

Aloha, Newt

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Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Burns and Haberman report, with as much deadpan delivery as they can muster, that Newt Gingrich will be spending at least three campaign days in Hawaii. The campaign points out that he'll be in California right before this -- although a flight from, say LAX to Honolulu is longer than a flight from LAX to Des Moines -- and that it's his wedding anniversary. To which I say: Fantastic! If you're still donating to the Gingrich campaign at this point, you probably don't mind him using your money to walk on a particularly scenic beach with Callista.

It raises a question, though. Why is Gingrich in presidential debates while Buddy Roemer and Gary Johnson are excluded from them? "Because he's polling better than they are," you say? True, but he's polling worse than he did when he got into the race, and no one, with a straight face, can explain how Gingrich will win the nomination next year.* He's on the down slope, but they aren't even allowed on the slope. Both of them have held office, and Johnson has held it more recently than Gingrich. Do we want to argue that Gingrich brings more ideas to the debates? Well, Johnson and Roemer are running on heterodox ideas, and nothing but -- Johnson's for balancing the budget this year and pulling out of basically all foreign entanglements, while Roemer's running on campaign finance reform and tariffs. Anyway, if "he can't win, but he introduces some interesting ideas" is the criterion for a debate, why not let Cornel West up there?

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*I suppose you could bring back the old formulation Al Franken used to game out a 1996 Arlen Specter nomination. Every other Republican candidate could be riding a bus that crashes. Even then, you probably get an open convention that nominates Christie/Rubio.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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