DECEMBER 27, 2011
The Gingrich Project Reaches its
Commentary and Analysis
Jay B Gaskill
This article is also Posted in htm format at –
http://jaygaskill.com/GingScale.htmlon the Policy Think Site.
As 2011 draws to a close, we notice that the remaining effective campaign period is only ten months. When Newt’s entire campaign staff resigned in the summer of 2011*, it was a sign that they already knew about the potentially fatal weakness I’m about to identify. It takes two years of full-on preparation to capture the presidency from an incumbent.
* How soon we forget: ”Newt Gingrich’s top fundraisers have quit his presidential campaign, weeks after his top aides and strategists in key states such as Iowa and South Carolina resigned en masse.” USA Today 7-21-11
It is almost too late to be distracted by talk about Mr. Gingrich’s flaws and baggage, and whether they matter. …Because in the real world – right now in the 2012 presidential election cycle, just three factors trump everything else: (1) preparation, (2) organization and (3) staffing.
For each of those three factors, there is one critical differential. It is the margin that defines winners, losers, players and bystanders: This differential is presidential scale. This is the key differential that defines a serious, credible presidential run, and rules out the rest. Serious attention to scale is especially critical when challenging an incumbent president.
Governor Perry’s early debate lapses revealed a truly embarrassing deficit in subject-matter preparation. But hen former governor Palin mused in pubic whether it is o is not now “too late”, she was acknowledging the reality and relevance of the scale problem, especially as it relates to organization and staffing.
The Newt Gingrich campaign faces a major scaling challenge.
I am reminded of the early Dot Com bubble days when hundreds of would-be IPO millionaires were emboldened with a couple of good ideas and some V-Cap seed money. Trolling for their first customers, these proto-successes sold projects and promised deliveries that could never be credibly launched, let alone brought to fruition, without staff support they did not yet have. In those dizzy days of irrational exuberance the dot-communist entrepreneurs believed in an infinitely available supply of willing, able, highly motivated coworkers who would be hired as needed – much as you can snag a taxi at a metropolitan airport.
The sales forces of these startups had much in common with the style and bluster of Mr. Gingrich himself: Think of the well-articulated creative imagination coupled with a promised implementation that is fueled mostly by bluster and hope. More often than not, this is a fantasy construct masquerading as a scalable organization. It reflects the dot-communist notion that sales generate products and services, instead of the reverse, in effect a “buy it and somehow we will make it happen” campaign. As in the dot-com failures, the Gingrich campaign is based on the oft promised but rarely realized notion of rapid, reliable scalability.
At this point only one GOP POTUS candidate has a widely distributed staff, numbering in the hundreds…and it’s not Mr. Gingrich.
Iowa is a major pivot point.
In an 11-18-11 report we learned that Gingrich rehired two of the Iowa staff members who quit during the referenced mass resignations.
On 12-21 we learned that “The Rasmussen Reports survey of Iowa caucus participants shows Romney on top with 25% of the vote followed by Paul at 20% and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 17%. Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, both at 10%, are the only other candidates in double-digits.” […as reported in the Weekly Standard]
Iowa is an essential win for the GOP nominee in the general election, very important to Romney, but critical to Gingrich campaign in the primary process. The January 3rd Iowa caucus is just a bump in the road for a well funded, well organized candidate like Governor Romney, but represents a potential stumbling block for a work-in-progress like Speaker Gingrich. Unless the Gingrich campaign pulls off a decisive win in Iowa, there may well not be sufficient momentum to build a full fledged national campaign infrastructure before “super Tuesday” on March 8.
On 12-24, we learned that the Gingrich campaign failed to collect the minimum number of qualifying signatures to have a place on the Virginia ballot.
A one man show needs more than mesmerizing stage magic to stay competitive in, say, 40 states on the way to earning 270 electoral votes in November. Because the Gingrich campaign still lacks credible scalability, January 2012 will be the ‘now or never’ month, and the January 31st Florida primary will be the last pivotal Gingrich event.
Note: I am not suggesting that no one other than Romney will be nominated, including, especially Newt Gingrich. My point is that, at present, no candidate other than Romney has achieved the organizational scale to win a national campaign, or for that matter sufficient to assemble a transition team that is fully ready to govern on day one.
My read on the uncertainties, threats and instabilities afoot in the USA and the world tells me that any new president will arrive at a traumatic moment in American history.
Flash forward to late October 2012, say, about 10 days before the general election for POTUS. I believe that the American people will be deeply unsettled, discontent and – more to the point, very worried and insecure about their future. They will be receptive for a change in leadership, to be sure,but they will not to eager to risk just any change, not willing to try out just any leader.
Try a thought experiment: Imagine that you have booked a flight on a smaller plane – a trip than can’t be delayed or avoided. It is one of those stormy nights with worse weather predicted to come. With some misgivings and great apprehension, you take your seat. Then the pilot comes on board. Everyone strains to catch a glimpse. Think through three scenarios in which one pilot resembles Barak Obama, one looks like Newt Gingrich, and is more one like Mitt Romney. You and the other passengers are hoping for the calm assurance, the disciplined competence and the reassuring demeanor of, say, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger of the Hudson River landing fame.
To be fair, appearances are often deceiving (as those who are disappointed in our current president’s actual performance can attest) moreover, analogies and thought experiments like that bad weather in a small plane, are not always apt. But when you hear a pilot’s over the ambient flight noise voice intone “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, you hope to God he knows how to manage a safe landing.
Copyright © 2011 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law. First published on the Policy Think Site and the Dot -2- Dot Blog. Forwards and links with attribution are welcome and appreciated. For other permissions and comments, contact the author at – firstname.lastname@example.org .