While the Republican primary was essentially over after Rick Perry’s Ambien-and-Tito’s Vodka debate performance, the stories now emerging about Newton Leroy’s amusingly inept campaign do contain an important lesson. There was this idea, first expressed by some country-fried rubes with respect to Sarah Palin, that in this day and age having a professional, organized campaign was obsolete. With the kids today with their Facebook and the Tweeter and the Citizens United and the waffle irons with phones on them, you just need to show up and Express Ideas and the votes will come, so being too lazy and incompetent to run a real presidential campaign isn’t a big deal anymore. I think we’ve buried this argument for a while. Mittens was obviously extremely vulnerable, but the fact that he was running a serious campaign gave him a certain baseline level of performance, and he was lucky enough to be running against people who couldn’t and/or wouldn’t do the boring work of assembling the kind of state operations that are the difference between winning and losing.
And give Palin this — unlike some of her more clueless supporters, she seemed to understand this. She recognized that just staying home was the more efficient grift. I think Newt started to actually convince himself that he could win, which is pretty pathetic.