Newt Gingrich has won the South Carolina Republican primary for president with a come-from-behind blitz over Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. Now he's claiming a great victory.
But President Obama and Vice President Biden Saturday night should be cheering because Gingrich's win illustrates how riven the Republican Party is with conflicts over ideas, class, race and ideology.
Gingrich can claim he's moving on to Florida and the next Republican primary there. But here's why the man will never be President:
Gingrich's career is hobbled by a lack of integrity. True, Gingrich parrots Sen. Barry Goldwater's attacks on the elites of Washington, New York and the media but he doesn't have an iota of Goldwater's integrity. He hoists the flag of President Ronald Reagan but lacks Reagan's core values of conviction, pragmatism and personal honesty.
Need we even raise the issue of his marriages, his relationship to his two former wives and his disregard of family values that he touts so much? For some reason, South Carolina Republican evangelicals overlooked it, but it will never work in a national campaign. Lying about saying he was an historian for Freddie Mac when he was actually a lobbyist is just over the top.
Gingrich's role as man of ideas is overrated and flawed. Who even knew until this year that the former history professor's doctorate from Tulane was on the educational system of the Belgian Congo, a place he never visited and a document that shows no attempt to reach out to the Congolese themselves during their struggle for independence and afterwards?
Gingrich is a marketer. He succeeded with his 1994 Contract with America and by coming up with monickers like death tax. But his role as a man of ideas is based on his motormouth, not his accomplishments. Intellectually, he is a phony, speaking in code words targeted to be destructive, triggering the worst impulses in people.
Gingrich was a disaster as Speaker. If Gingrich were so great a politician, he'd still be Speaker of the House. Instead, he was run out of town after only four years because of his disastrous record which appalled even the Republican caucus.
Now that he criticizes people like Romney for their business experience and being moderate and President Obama for mismanagement, all they have to do is throw his record back at him. Gingrich's destructiveness will work against him. Even in his South Carolina victory speech, where he criticized religious bigots, he proved once again his recklessness.
Gingrich is unable to tell the truth. There's a reason why Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury, depicts him as a cannonball. From lying about President Obama as the biggest president for foodstamps ever (without pointing out that most recipients are not African-American) to screaming about elites (without mentioning his Tiffany's charge account), the former professor is utterly inauthentic.
Knocking President Obama for weakening America after victories including killing Osama Bin Laden, getting the country out of Iraq and keeping the country on an even keel during an inherited economic crisis which now appears to be turning into a recovery won't work.
Gingrich is unlikely to even win the Republican nomination. With no apparent leader now, since Santorum, Romney and Gingrich have respectively won the first three states to vote, the Republican Party is in shreds now.
Weaker candidates like Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Ambassador Jon Huntsman have withdrawn. The call may now go out to others who are more attractive, perhaps Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who chairs the House Budget Committee or New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
And then the prospect of a third-party run by Ron Paul remains. He could run on a libertarian or independent ballot line. Paul, 76, says he's going to leave his House seat in Texas, anyway, so why not try a national campaign, like John Anderson in 1980 and Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996? Of course, even at his best, Perot won 19 percent of the vote in 1992.
Essentially, U.S. voters vote for a centrist and for someone reasonable. Newt Gingrich is an extremist and someone whose record over decades in politics is one of distinct unreason.