Two fun things happened last weekend. On Saturday, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia awarded me first place in its Political Column category for my work at the Missoula Independent. That’s extremely nice of them and probably better than I deserve. In case you needed another reminder that the race is not to the swift, a Fox News poll released Friday had Donald Trump running first among Republican candidates for president, with support from 18% of likely primary voters. Before you stockpile canned beans, let us remember that Trump is one of 16 candidates for the Republican nomination, and his status as front-runner may testify less to his viability and more to how thoroughly that field has split the vote of people who try to supply the funniest answer to polls. Also, right after that one came out, Trump criticized Senator John McCain for getting captured during the Vietnam War.
The best thing about the Republican Party’s sad attempt to get over Mitt Romney through a series of superficial relationships with new candidates is that we all knew, sooner or later, they would get around to Newt Gingrich. I personally could not wait. The oddly childish former House Majority Leader has said and done so many weird things that no one who knows his career would vote for him, yet his demeanor is so smug and off-putting that he repels anyone who sees him for the first time. As Ben al-Fowlkes pointed out to me, Gingrich would stand a chance in 1840. In 2011, he seems to have staked his campaign on the twin propositions that A) he has name recognition and B) people won’t remember what he’s like. That’s a recipe for fun, right there. As if to reward us for somehow making him the Republican front-runner, Gingrich has compiled all the likely complaints against him and refuted them, point-by-point, in a 5,000-word defense on his website. The only thing he forgets to mention is that that’s not crazy at all.