Newt Gingrich's bubble has burst rather quicker than anticipated. Perhaps 'burst' is wrong. He hasn't suddenly exploded or imploded. It's more that the air has steadily exited his campaign over the last week, as GOP voters took a step back and muttered "What the heck were we thinking?" or something similarly non-blasphemous.
Newt's fall is a reminder that establishment support - of which he has very little - still matters. Despite his ascendancy in the polls he hasn't raised much cash, and has therefore had to suffer a negative ad battering in primary states, including Iowa, from his opponents.
This is a pity, in a way, since Newt offers high entertainment value, and while I might have been slightly alarmed had he got anywhere nearer the White House I was looking forward to more classic Newtisms. We might still get some but they won't be as funny if he's not in the lead. We'll see; in the meantime, we'll have to make do with this, my favourite recent piece from the campaign, about one of the many passions of this most eccentric of politicians. Almost every line makes me laugh, but here's the intro:
On a day when other candidates were preparing for a major debate, Newt Gingrich spent the morning with Barnaby, an 85-year-old tortoise at a Des Moines zoo.
It might have been viewed as one more possible sign that the former House speaker isn’t serious about his presidential aspirations. Turns out it was merely Gingrich indulging in one of his favorite pastimes as he plodded his slow, steady course to the front of the Republican pack. Gingrich, it seems, is crazy for zoos.
(No wonder he enjoys himself so much in the debates.) Read the whole thing, it's brilliant. While you do, admire the skill of its author, Sandhya Somashekhar, who has mastered the art of the straight-faced piss-take:
Earlier this year, Gingrich took to Twitter to express his sadness at the untimely death of Knut, a polar bear with an eerily familiar name he had visited at the Berlin Zoo.