Posted: April 19, 2012


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Politics pulled a fast one on Newt Gingrich as he was trudging through Delaware on his latest excursion here, dragging his presidential ambitions behind him.

Politics is like the bratty kid brother of history, something it will eventually grow up to be, but not for a while. If history savors its ironic reputation for repeating itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce, then politics will mock it by repeating itself, too, but first as farce and then as tragedy.

Gingrich, who used to be a history professor, looked like he had been shot by politics right between the eyes.

It was mostly Colin Bonini's doing. Bonini, a Republican state senator from Dover, endorsed Gingrich and has been squiring him around to events in advance of the Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, when Delaware votes among other states.

Bonini got the bright idea to welcome Gingrich with a little skit, when he appeared Wednesday in Wilmington before about 150 people at a dinner meeting of the Delaware Rail Splitters Society, a Republican club named for Abraham Lincoln.

The skit was the farce. Then Gingrich was the Shakespearean tragic figure, who thought the nomination was his but now finds himself grubbing for 17 delegates here and their tiny measure of relevancy. Gingrich keeps hanging on and getting good crowds here, while Romney moves on, and who knows? Delaware could reward Gingrich for all the attention.

Politics had its fun as the skit and the ex-speaker delivered the same message.

The skit was a silly dialogue between Bonini and George Ball, the Rail Splitters' organizer. Ball played a counselor, giving advice on George's Answer Line, and Bonini played Mr. Rob R. Stamp, a pun-named political reporter working for the New York Crimes & Misdemeanors. In part, here is the way it went.

Rob R. Stamp asks George's Answer Line for help: "I have horrible feelings of guilt for participating in the mainstream media's biased coverage of Speaker Gingrich. You know, like saying the race is over, he should get out of the race, he has no chance of winning Delaware. Focusing on this stuff instead of his ideas."

George asks Stamp why he is doing it, and Stamp explains: "Orders from the Obama administration. They fear debating Mr. Gingrich. He can talk without a teleprompter."

George comes to the rescue: "I have exactly what you need. This is my Constitution bottle. Take two Constitutions and call me in the morning. Nothing heals like the Constitution."

All Gingrich could manage afterwards was to say, "In a relatively long career, that has to be one of the strangest introductions."

Once the laughter died, Gingrich repeated the farcical message but with tragic transcendency.

"I am an underdog, and I come here to ask for your votes. You'd make a big difference, because if we do win Delaware, it will break up the media narrative. My position is, people in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and Rhode Island have a right next Tuesday to make their own choice. This is a very radical view, suggesting that the voters actually matter," Gingrich said.

"I'd only want to change one thing, and it's the thing I've frankly not done very well in this campaign. I would try to figure out a way to have a genuine conversation where every American as an adult takes seriously the future of the country."

He wanted to talk about what he called Obama's pro-food stamp policy and his own pro-paycheck policy, about energy policy and foreign policy, about brain research -- and not about the daily trivialities, like the back-and-forth between Obama's campaign and Romney's campaign about dogs, Romney for transporting one in a crate on the roof of his car years ago and Obama for tasting one as a boy in an Indonesian meal.

"I've been watching these totally stupid exchanges," Gingrich said.

Gingrich had something there. Tragically, sometimes when politics repeats itself, the first time is farce and the encore is farce, too.