"There is no effective GOP establishment left"

Indeed, the Republican base is so hungry for someone to fire them up – as clearly, Romney hasn’t – that they seem to be willing to overlook Gingrich’s three marriages, his record of moderate positions, his $1.6 million Fannie Mae paycheck and his political downfall as Speaker after overreaching during the Clinton era. “There is no effective GOP establishment left. There are folks who act like they are in charge but Republican voters don’t trust and aren’t listening to much of what the old establishment says. Dean Wormer can’t control campus anymore,” says GOP strategist Matt Dowd, citing the iconic movie Animal House. “The fraternity is in charge.”

Gingrich has 30 years of history with most Washington pols, much of it bad blood – remember the attempted coup? Still, few are likely to go so overtly at Gingrich as Coburn. Instead, they’ll take the tried and true Washington path: anonymously leak every damaging and embarrassing story the Speaker has ever been even remotely involved in (see Politico story above). The question is this: Given his momentum with primary voters, will anything stick at this point? “A tough effort to push Romney through could backfire,” says Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “The ‘establishment’ — it has been co-opted by the insurgent forces it tried to co-opt in 2010 — may fall back on plan B: try to keep anyone from winning enough delegates to claim a majority and take it to the convention to get [former Florida Governor] Jeb Bush or [former Indiana Governor] Mitch Daniels.”