This started as a tangent in the Senate 42 post but now needs its own space.
Ron Paul, now running in a dead heat for second with Mitt Romney in Iowa, may do just well enough to nominate Newt Gingrich.
Scenario: an Iowa finishing order of Newt, Paul, Mitt. Quite likely. The flavors of the month, Bachmann and Perry and Cain, all tanked because they were full of surprises. After all these years, you think Republicans, especially active, caucus-type Republicans, are going to learn something NEW about Newt Gingrich?
Yeah, they all know about the three wives. And they don't care. He literally wrote the playbook and the language of the present Republican Party and the modern post-congenial era of government, all from a backbench seat in the House a decade before he was Speaker. He's still the Contract With America guy who won back the House after 40 years. Even in his downfall, caught in a trap of his own hypocrisy, he was STILL a conservative hero, escalating the dynamic of Politics as Total War to include impeachment.
(And by poisoning "impeachment" with partisanship so it couldn't be used when Bush and Cheney actually did impeachable stuff, he indirectly saved them, too.)
All that stuff still makes Gingrich a hero to the base, in a way that winning one election in Massachusetts doesn't. It also excuses decades of flip flops more than having to run in Massachusetts does. Remember, despite the wave of 1994, the only two Republicans who lost anything that year were Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
No, the only thing that sinks Newt in the next 27 days is if he trades in Calista for Wife #4. And as for Paul, he's going to overperform. He might even win if the weather's bad enough. (The other candidate who'll overperform is Santorum, but that only gets him from 5 percent to 8.)
So after that third place in Iowa, Mitt starts to tank in New Hampshire. The entire GOP establishment throws him overboard and flocks to Newt to block Ron Paul, because they'd rather lose than let the libertarians and isolationists take over the party. You think the neocons will sit still for a guy who only wants to send troops to congressionally declared wars? And don't even get me started on the gold standard...
So it's gonna be Newt, and the opposition research takes care of itself. 35 years of outrageous on the record quotes for Davids Axelrod and Plouffe to play with. The only hard part is choosing which ones make the top ten list. And the real winners are the comedians. Four more years. Watch it happen.