Romney and Gingrich: Kindred Spirits?

RightWatch: They both love double standards -- but one is a lot more entertaining to watch.

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Now that the human pretzel otherwise known as Mitt Romney has won the Illinois primary, thereby re-establishing his claim to be the inevitable nominee of the Republican Party, the pressure is on his rivals to drop out so that he can focus his energy on trying to drive President Barack Obama from the White House.

None of them are feeling the heat more than Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who finished dead last in Tuesday's contest with only 8 percent of the vote. If ever there were a politician whose time has gone, it's Gingrich. But -- and call me sentimental if you will -- I hope that Newt stays in for the simple reason that I would miss his peculiar brand of political hypocrisy so much. He's just more entertaining than Romney will ever be.

This week the two candidates gave us vivid examples of their talents as political attack dogs, and though his brassiness didn't affect the outcome in Illinois, Gingrich, once again, came out on top.

Congratulating himself on his triumph in Illinois on Tuesday night, Romney drew a contrast between his career as a swashbuckling venture capitalist and Obama's years as a law-school professor:

Now, you know that yesterday I was giving a speech at the University of Chicago -- not very far from here, not very far from where professor Barack Obama taught law. It was a speech on economic freedom. And as I was writing the speech, I thought to my lifetime of experiences ... For 25 years I lived and breathed business, and the economy, and jobs. I had successes and failures. But each step of the way, I learned a little bit more about what makes our American system so powerful. You can't learn that teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago, all right?

Leaving aside the highly debatable merits of Romney's charge, it is a convoluted argument that he delivered poorly, in a hesitant, almost whiny tone. Romney has a great haircut, but his body and hand movements are as awkward as those of Richard Nixon.

And what he does with his eyes is truly disconcerting: They pop open to Nancy Pelosi-style dimensions at odd moments during his speeches, as though he were out to punctuate the fact that he is reading a carefully crafted tract from a teleprompter instead of speaking from the heart.

The sad truth is that Romney is a stiff on the stump. As the invaluable Charles Pierce observed in a wickedly incisive post to his blog at Esquire magazine, Romney comes across like a political android that "is almost capable of simulating actual human speech and, therefore, sounding very nearly like an actual presidential candidate. But, as its stumbling victory speech proved on Tuesday night in Schaumburg, Illinois, it's still pretty far from sounding like a President of the United States."

Meanwhile, old Newt was up to the tricks that have endeared him to right-wing audiences for generations. In a typical outburst of phony umbrage and well-timed audacity, he seized upon an idiotic remark made by actor Robert De Niro at a fundraiser in New York City that first lady Michelle Obama attended.

De Niro's heavy-handed jest -- "Do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?" -- was, according to Gingrich, "inexcusable," just as bad as Rush Limbaugh's sliming of law student Sandra Fluke. To quote Gingrich at some length: