The idea of reversing federal growth is fine to keep on the wish list, but those who advocate it seriously are seen as rubes—either new arrivals in Washington who just fell off a turnip truck or unsophisticated congressmen from ‘flyover country.’ To be a true Beltway Republican is to have accepted the assumption that the scope of government cannot be radically altered. And they think it is politically foolish to try.
Thus the establishment just knows that you run a moderate like Mitt Romney for president. Conservatives have no place else to go and independents will be attracted—historical evidence to the contrary be damned.
Gingrich challenges this, believing 2012 may be one of those historical turning points where voters will be most attracted by a candidate who offers a radical divergence.
But even more damning, Gingrich has the audacity to imagine that Washington can be run without his own party’s establishment. Their assumption of dominating the next Republican administration is not safe if it is Gingrich. He is not proposing to replace the Democratic piano player at the brothel that is Washington with a slightly sterner-sounding Republican. Instead, he claims he will close the brothel. And the establishment of his own party just knows that can’t happen. In their lives, it never has. And where are they then to go for their pork and porking?
The establishment may still prevail. There are nearly infinite news cycles until the nomination is won by someone. Gingrich’s opponents are not close to giving up and serious Wall Street money is falling squarely behind Romney. But the champagne glasses will clink a little lighter on the Potomac this season—a little Christmas miracle of its own.