I’m not saying National Review’s call for Gingrich to get out of the race is misguided. I’m merely saying it is much later than would have been justified:
At the moment Rick Santorum appears to be overtaking Newt Gingrich as the principal challenger to Mitt Romney. Santorum has won more contests than Gingrich (who has won only one), has more delegates, and leads him in the polls. In at least one poll, he also leads Romney. It isn’t yet a Romney–Santorum contest, but it could be headed that way.
We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.
The correct moment to tell Gingrich to leave the race, of course, was the moment he decided to enter it. No one was ever going to vote for the corrupt and thin-skinned little troll. The only purpose he served was to make Santorum and Romney look half-electable by comparison, and they both possess the electability of a Republican candidate in the classic Dole/McCain vein. They’ll lose, but they’ll lose respectably and make it look as if the Republican Establishment actually wanted to win the election.
Which, as is readily apparent, it doesn’t. Obama is obediently bombing who he’s told to bomb and defending the interests of the banks he’s told to defend. So long as his handlers can sufficiently head off his self-destructive political instincts – seriously, he’s picking a fight on healthcare now? – and keep him from quitting the race in a morose tantrum, the Republican Establishment will be perfectly satisfied with a loss to Obama it can blame on the Tea Party.
We have a very strange situation in 2012 where it is the Democratic Establishment that wants Obama out whereas the Republican Establishment is perfectly content with the idea of him serving a second term.