This wouldn't be the first time the media missed the real story. In the wake of a split Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum scored wins against each other, but it was former Speaker Newt Gingrich who single-handedly drove President Obama into panic mode.
Mr. Romney deserves enormous credit for his success in the early primaries, but the undeniable fact remains that he has not demonstrated the ability to win a race without vastly outspending his opponents, often by 5-to-1 and even 12-to-1. He will not enjoy this luxury against the sitting president and the billion-dollar Obama machine. Veteran political writer John Fund says Republicans are "fooling themselves" if they ignore this sobering reality.
Mr. Santorum has outperformed expectations but continues to make himself an easy target for Democrats. Eagerly taking the bait, the former senator declared of birth control, "It's not OK."
Mr. Santorum offered up the verbal equivalent of former President Lyndon B. Johnson showing off his gallbladder surgical scar by doubling down on his prior assertion that former president John F. Kennedy's speech on the separation of church and state makes him want to "throw up." Sigh. The commercials write themselves.
And Ron Paul. Few love our Constitution as much as Mr. Paul, and for that, many of us love him dearly. If only we could convince him that a nuclear Iran poses as much of a threat to our Constitution as does the Federal Reserve. Should Mahmoud Ahmadinejad successfully launch a strike against Israel, or worse yet, America, brace yourself for a beefed-up Patriot Act 2.0 and a military budget that expands faster than Terry Bradshaw's waistline before Nutrisystem.
And then there was Newt Gingrich, the Lazarus of the presidential campaign, as the Drudge Report recently called him, ready to rise once again. While the mainstream media stayed focused on the game of checkers between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum, Mr. Gingrich forced President Obama into an astonishing game of chess.
In a 30-minute video titled "$2.50 per Gallon Gasoline, Energy Independence and Jobs," Mr. Gingrich unveiled his vision for renewed American prosperity centered around oil and natural-gas production. He demonstrated his unparalleled insight into the intersection of energy, security and prosperity. Mr. Gingrich rightly declared that never again should an American president bow before a Saudi king. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama, stung by his recent half-billion-dollar failed Solyndra boondoggle, began floating his latest green fantasy of harvesting algae to cure the pain at the pump.
Panicked by Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Obama was forced off his game and repeatedly tried to respond, only making matters worse for himself. He stayed true to the Democrats' anti-energy agenda and mocked Republicans for wanting to drill for new oil. This made the president the butt of a joke for Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show": Democrats claim that new drilling for oil won't help us for at least 10 years, but haven't they been saying that now for more than 10 years?
Mr. Obama boasts that oil production is up under his administration. True, but only because the president hasn't yet stopped production on privately owned land. Mr. Gingrich cut right through his profound dishonesty: "Under President Obama, because he is so anti-American-energy, we have actually had a 40 percent reduction in development of oil offshore, and we have had a 40 percent reduction in the development of oil on federal lands," Mr. Gingrich pounced. "So in the area he controls, production is down and the area that is hard at the free enterprise stuff where people get rich, production is up. So he is now claiming credit for the area he can't control in order to have us think he is actually for what he opposes."
Mr. Gingrich reduced the once-confident "Yes, we can!" 2008 version of Mr. Obama into the backpedaling "It's not my fault" 2012 version right before our eyes. A defensive Mr. Obama dissembled: "We know there's no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight." Wait, what about that algae?
Newt had Barack right where he wanted him.
"A presidential pen could today sign approval of the Keystone pipeline. That's 700,000 barrels a day. A presidential pen could today sign approval to go back to the Gulf of Mexico. That's about 400,000 barrels a day. A presidential pen could today approve areas of Alaska that we know have oil." With three signatures, Mr. Gingrich instructed the president, "you would have 2.3 million barrels a day of additional energy in the United States. So I would say, we're not looking for silver bullets. We're looking for presidential leadership." Check and checkmate.
With this, Peter Ferrara, former adviser to President Reagan, declared that Mr. Obama had just lost his first debate. The GOP race remains open. So ask yourself this: Which Republican candidate beside Newt Gingrich has demonstrated the ability to make Barack Obama squirm?
Dr. Milton R. Wolf, a Washington Times columnist, is a radiologist and President Obama's cousin. He blogs at miltonwolf.com.