After the mass departure of his top campaign staff, I figured it was a good time to catch up with Newt Gingrich and ask him about the next phase of his presidential campaign. Here is a guaranteed verbatim transcript of my imaginary interview:
Q: How will your campaign survive the loss of your entire senior campaign staff?
A: My campaign is now moving into a higher, non-corporeal plane of existence in which we will have no need for the typical accoutrements of old-fashioned reality-based campaigns.
Q: What do you mean by that?
A: Look. This conversation you and I are having is not taking place in reality, right? Same with my campaign. The most important part of my campaign will no longer take place in the real world. It has evolved to a virtual state.
Q: And how does that work in practical terms?
A: This new phase of my campaign will allow me to free myself of mundane, earth-bound concerns such as campaign staff, polls, organization, strategy, or any of the trappings of traditional political campaigns. Although I probably will be giving some speeches. I like giving speeches.
Q: Does that explain why you took a two week vacation to Greece while your staff was telling you that you should have been busy campaigning?
A: That trip was no vacation. I was investigating what would happen to a country that goes into a so-called default with respect to its debts.
Q: What did you find out?
A: Greece is still beautiful and the people are very friendly. Therefore, this whole default crisis is just something the bankers have to worry about. That gives me hope for America.
Q: How could the Greek situation apply to this country?
A: Very directly. You have to understand that the debt ceiling under which the government is operating is something that only exists in reality. But once you evolve into a higher state of being as I have, it is easy to blithely tell people they no longer have to be concerned about it.
Q: How does your new-found disregard of reality fit in with the program of the Republican Party?
A: First of all, I object to your saying that my evolution beyond reality is anything new. The fact of the matter is that I have not had a firm grasp on reality for many, many years. And my understanding of spheres of existence beyond the real world fits in perfectly with the Republican Party platform.
Q: Wait. You're saying the whole Republican program is not based on reality?
A: Of course not. Let me share some history with you. When Ronald Reagan came into office, we started telling people that the more we cut their taxes, the more revenues would increase. How much further from reality can you get? But people believed it. Or at least they seemed to like the fact that we were cutting their taxes. So we just kept repeating it, no matter how divorced from reality it seems.
Q: But how are you going to compete with the rest of the Republican field, while they are running campaigns grounded in reality?
A: Are you kidding me? Did you read Tim Pawlenty's tax plan? Have you listened to Mitt Romney try to explain how mandatory health insurance was a good thing for Massachusetts, but is a bad thing for the rest of the country? Did you hear Herman Cain try to explain how people flipping pizzas have more important jobs than teachers or firemen? I'm proud to say that the entire Republican field is completely out of touch with reality. But only I have figured out how to conduct a campaign that is lacking in any physical dimension.
Q: And how do you think any Republican can win on a non-reality-based program?
A: We've been doing it for years. Look at what happened in last year's election. In 2008, Obama inherited the worst mess handed to any president in my lifetime. But look what he does in less than two years. He's a goddamn miracle worker. He pulls out of Iraq without any problems; he gets the economy to start growing again; the stock market almost doubles in value; he saves the financial system from collapse so they can pay back all the TARP money; he saves the entire American auto industry from collapse; he enacts health care coverage for all Americans, something the Democrats have been trying to do for 100 years; he enacts major financial regulatory reform. And still we beat him in the Congressional elections last year.
Q: That is impressive when you think about it. How do you explain that?
A: Well it wasn't based on anything happening in reality, I can tell you that. It was pure scare tactics. We got people riled up about the deficit that we created, and then we made them think that by extending health insurance coverage to all Americans, Obama was actually taking people's health insurance away.
Q: Do you think those kinds of tactics can work in the presidential campaign next year?
A: Well it isn't going to be easy. People are starting to figure out, once they unveiled this crazy Ryan plan, that it is actually the Republicans who are taking people's health insurance away. And we can't play the soft on terrorism card, since Obama killed bin Laden. But don't worry. We'll find something to scare people about, and it doesn't have to be anything real.
Q: Do you think the Republican program has a future?
A: Our program works extremely well for the top 2% of Americans, and we are very proud of that. The rest of the country we're not helping so much, but we get enough of them to support it by playing to their traditional values, and telling them that we are cutting their taxes, and giving them hope that maybe they can be rich too, and then our program will work for them as well. And then whenever anything goes wrong, we blame the Democrats. Since some things are sure to go wrong, we always have a chance.
Q: Now that assessment is starting to sound very grounded in reality.
A: That proves my point, that candidates who exist in pure fantasy-land can actually have success in the real world. That should show the scoffers and the doubters that I have a chance.
Q: Well, good luck with your campaign, Newt.
A: Thank you, I'm off to another dimension now.