It is always difficult to pinpoint the precise moment when a politician reaches his “sell-by” date.
We have seen some remarkable comebacks in America.
Richard Nixon, defeated for president and then governor of California, returned to win the presidency — and then when he was forced from the White House repositioned himself as something of an elder-statesman.
Joe Biden, forced out of the presidential race of 1988 and then defeated decisively in the presidential race of 2008, finally got to the White House in 2009 as the vice president.
So a lot of things are possible.
But it seems safe to say that New Gingrich has nothing left to add to the discussion.
The truth is that Gingrich may have been finished a long time ago.
Forced to resign the speakership of the House in the late 1990s after steering both his party and his personal life on disastrous courses, he has struggled to renew his franchise as the Grand Old Party’s big thinker.
There’s no question that the party of “no” needs a senior figure who is capable of wrestling with ideas. Unless Republicans plan to nominate Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Steele for president in 2012 — and even the craziest of the crazies are not that crazy — they are going to need someone with a vision. And even if his vision is flawed, Gingrich’s ability to grab forums and to use them for something more than mere grumbling seemed to be getting him back in the running.
But Gingrich tweeted off the deep end Wednesday when he jumped over the cliff of responsible Republicanism and into the chasm of right-wing talk-radio delusion.
Responding via Twitter to the nomination of Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to fill the vacancy that will be created by the retirement of Justice David Souter, Gingrich did not think. He took his talking points from Limbaugh, who has been trying to foster the fantasy that the nominee is some kind of “reverse racist.”
At issue are comments made by Judge Sotomayor’s when she delivered the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.
The judge took as her topic, “Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation.” And she explored the subject at great length, employing statistics, historical references, reflections on her own experiences as a lawyer and judge and a serious consideration of questions of bias and responsibility when it comes to seeking justice.