An underwhelming boast

AN UNDERWHELMING BOAST…. Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) didn’t kick off his presidential exploratory committee last week, but he did unveil a website that kinda sorta looks like it’s part of a presidential exploratory committee. How’s the site going so far?

Well, yesterday, four days after the site’s launch, Gingrich’s exploratory entity boasted on Twitter about its web traffic.

Over 5000 people have visited NewtExplore2012.com since Thursday. Have you?

Gingrich has been a little out of the loop since leaving public office more than a decade ago, so it’s possible he thinks 5,000 people visiting a website over the course of four days is impressive.

It’s not. This isn’t a statistic to brag about; it’s a statistic a campaign operation should keep well hidden. For higher-profile political blogs with relatively strong traffic, having 5,000 visitors represents a pretty good hour, not a pretty good four-day stretch.

As Atrios joked, “Over 5000 people have visited eschatonblog.com since 2 o’clock. Have you?”

Also note, some of the folks who stopped by NewtExplore2012.com weren’t interested in actually supporting Gingrich’s presidential ambitions. Hell, I’m one of the 5,000, and I only went to chuckle at Gingrich’s use of stock photos and to see him trying too hard to incorporate his third wife into every part of his campaign.

In other words, Gingrich launched a website, and despite massive media attention, no one’s actually going to the site. If 50,000 people had visited NewtExplore2012.com from Thursday to Sunday, it would have been pretty awful for someone who seriously expects to compete at a national level. But 5,000 is cover-your-eyes bad.

I don’t imagine Newt will take this as a hint, though he should, but I can’t help but wonder why someone on his staff didn’t stop and think, “Maybe this isn’t something to brag about.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.