THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jim Worth Headshot

Who's Next: Newt?

Posted: Updated:

Republicans struggle to find a credible presidential candidate.

I began writing this article several weeks ago when charges of sexual harassment threatened the Cain candidacy and his numbers began to slide. Cain's campaign was imploding but I got distracted by other, more serious issues.

And even though it was intended to continue the spoof of the Republican presidential field that began with "Is That All You've Got?," I never imagined that Gingrich would be the next to rise to the top.

But -- in this strange right-wing political world -- he has!

It is yet another comedic episode of the 'anyone but Mitt' drama unfolding before the Republican primaries.

Like the previous popular but unqualified front runners, Newt is destined to fall, failing to satisfy the ideological factions of the idiosyncratic Republican Party.

Gingrich, the former disgraced Speaker of the House, may have more baggage than the three previous darlings of the party: Bachmann, Perry, and Cain.

But there are two traits he shares with the other three, traits that challenge his electability. He, like the others, subscribes to failed, illogical, ineffective, and stupid ideas and policies. Secondly, like them, he is willing to lie to get the nomination.

His most recent prevarication was the vague explanation of his association with Freddie Mac and his selective memory regarding the advice he provided them and the amount of compensation received for his sage advice.

The difference between $1.6 million and his recollection of receiving a mere $300,000 is difficult to comprehend and is more likely an outright lie. It's a level of dishonesty that is unacceptable.

Though lying is a part of politics, Republicans have taken it to a new artful level -- perpetuated by the base's naive acceptance of statements and positions easily researched and contradicted. Facts seem to be of no interest to the uninformed electorate.

More than 25 Republicans have entered, toyed with, hinted to, or been recruited for, the run for the 2012 presidency.

Like it or not, these are the eight candidates the right is left with.

Newt's turn at the top will probably be no longer than the previous pole sitters. But, being the fourth, one must wonder whether another will rise to stardom before primaries begin in Iowa, or if the party will settle, reluctantly, on Mitt.

Three others continue to battle for recognition by being more reasonable -- and somewhat sane.

Jon Huntsman is too reasonable -- too normal -- for today's right-wing voter, though he probably has the best credentials of the entire group. Ron Paul, more Libertarian than Republican, is stuck in the 9% range. But his supporters are the most loyal in the party. And then there's Rick Santorum, who occasionally surprises with comments of clarity that demand attention but fail to draw applause.

But these candidates cannot gain traction in this tea party driven election cycle. Their sensible, more moderate, factual positions do not resonate with those who will ultimately elect the 2012 nominee.

We can't forget that there are two others still in the race who haven't been afforded the opportunity to debate, Gary Johnson and Buddy Roehmer, both past governors with fairly good reputations.

So we wander bored, appalled, and nauseated through the debate season wondering, "Who'll Be the Next In Line?"

The New Hampshire Union Leader endorsed Newt Gingrich, stating, "Newt Gingrich is by no means the perfect candidate, but ..." It was less than a ringing endorsement indicating the weakness of the Republican slate of candidates. And, the Union Leader has picked some real losers in past elections.

No matter what direction the process goes, or how many redundant debates the electorate can endure, the results will be less than stellar.

The debates leave us with but one possible conclusion.

There is not a single person among the current Republican hopefuls worthy of the presidency.

Around the Web

Newt Gingrich not technically a lobbyist, but...

Newt Gingrich compares 2012 campaign to Walton, Kroc in Politico's new e-book ...

Newt Gingrich opens Iowa campaign office

Shadowy Iowa group hits Bob Vander Plaats over would-be Newt Gingrich endorsement

Is Newt Gingrich a Lobbyist?

Mitt Romney Goes After Newt Gingrich

Poll watcher: Who is Newt Gingrich's base? Tea party districts sour on tea ...

Richard Land pens open letter to Newt Gingrich

Can the 'New Newt' Shed Past Baggage?