I Shouted Out, "Who Killed the Newt Campaign?" When After All, It Was the Literati.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 18 2011 2:25 PM

I Shouted Out, "Who Killed the Newt Campaign?" When After All, It Was the Literati.

Quite a statement from Newt Gingrich's spokesman Rick Tyler, given to Michael Calderone.

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Hold up. In what sense is Gingrich an outsider? He's lived in the Virginia suburbs of Washington ever since leaving the speaker's office. He's appeared on Meet the Press, as David Gregory points out, 35 times. He's been a fellow at AEI and run American Solutions from for the better part of a decade. Without mind-melding with every reporter who wrote about Gingrich this week, I can surmise that he wasn't attacked because he threatened the system, man.

The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off.

That's not how I remember it happening! The smack at people with "bylines" reads like a total distraction, because the liberal media had almost nothing to do with Gingrich's problems. Paul Ryan took a whack at Gingrich on Laura Ingraham's talk show. Nikki Haley called CNN's Peter Hamby, one of the most straight-shooting reporters in the game, to criticize Gingrich. The former speaker was drilled by Bill Bennett, another conservative radio host, and longtime ally, harder than he was criticized by reporters. The media covered the controversy that was started by Gingrich and joined by conservatives.

This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich , once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.

What does that even mean? No one expected Gingrich to literally evaporate because he had a few bad days. Hell, I'm somewhat sympathetic to the Reagan 1980 argument, with the caveat that Reagan had an easier time making up ground because in the last campaign he'd come within a few votes of winning the nomination -- not quite analogous to Gingrich returning after years as a pundit.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.