After tonight's debate, I'd say Newt Gingrich has a better chance of being elected governor of America's 51st state--the Moon, presumably--than he does of getting to the White House.
It wasn't just that a tanned and confident Mitt Romney got the better of every exchange with Newt, at a time when Romney had begun surging ahead in the polls. (OMG, that's far too journalistically polite: he tore him to pieces!) Or that an inordinate amount of time was spent on Gingrich's loony idea of setting up a moon colony in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, reminding one and all of a trait that Gingrich was boasting about earlier today but which he didn't seem eager to bring up again: his "grandiosity."
The main problem for Gingrich was the complete absence of the fiery, base-rallying Newt that got him here in the first place.
Gingrich sounded peevish and defensive the whole night and barely landed a punch on Romney as the latter floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. Whether the subject was Romney's taxes, his conservatism or even Romneycare--all badly tender spots for Mitt in past debates--Gingrich passed up chances to attack. (Rick Santorum, by contrast, was brutally effective once again in making the case that in an Obama-vs.-Romney race, Mitt would not be able to sufficiently distinguish himself as an alternative, that the president could simply turn to Mitt and say, "You say your plan worked in Massachusetts. So why not for the country?")