Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sometimes, there is crying in politics

"Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball!" -- Jimmy Dugan, as played by Tom Hanks

Yesterday at a Mothers forum in Iowa, Newt Gingrich had an emotional moment talking about his Mother, who had suffered from bipolar issues. It wasn't a big sobfest as the media made it out to be... hardly any tears at all...but I certainly think it didn't help his chances to win the Iowa caucuses.

Perception can be huge in politics. Michele Bachmann had a top staffer abandon her campaign to go and work for Ron Paul. A SuperPac switched loyalties from her to Mitt Romney. As a result, her image and standing have taken a huge hit, and she is faltering badly in the polls. She's going to lose and finish near the back of the pack. Even though she technically didn't do anything wrong to deserve that. People just felt she couldn't win, and they are walking away in big numbers.

MSNBC host Chris Matthews savaged Newt Gingrich on his program. He went around asking all the people in the Java Joes coffee shop in Des Moines if they felt Newt was faking it, or if it was real, or if Newt was too emotional or "just tired" from the campaign. All of them had various answers, but nobody actually stood up and defended Newt.

Matthews also had a very touching, very insightful dialogue about "crying in politics". He mentioned Ed Muskie in 1972 and a variety of other candidates who has been caught crying during their campaign...including Hillary Clinton.

Matthews delivered a fantastic monologue about how there often is crying in politics. He mentioned how sometimes it happens in an election night hotel ballroom full of dejected supporters. Sometimes it happens on Air Force One on the way back to a White House that you need to move out of in the next 60 days. But it happens. More often than you think.

I don't think Newt was overly emotional yesterday.

It wasn't this moment that is going to do him in. It was the 30-40 million dollars in negative TV ads being run by his opponents in Iowa. That was what sunk him.

A month ago Newt Gingrich was flying high, his stellar debate performances had him topping the polls in just about every state. Then his opponents decided to land some body blows on the new front-runner with negative TV advertising.

Newt didn't have the money to fight back, and it is going to cost him the White House.

That fact is something that just might be worth crying about.