Is Newt Gingrich an aspiring presidential candidate or a shamelessly self-promoting author? Maybe both. Salon's Justin Elliott notices that the former Speaker of the House seems to be more than hinting at a run for the White House while at the same time using every opportunity, appropriate or not, to plug his own merchandise.

In November, Elliott came across an email from Newt.org that, in honor of Veterans Day, slapped unsuspecting readers with a advertisement for "Valley Forge," Gingrich's newest novel on the Revolutionary War. Any spot on the email, when clicked, was a direct link to the novel's Amazon page. Earlier this week, Gingrich took advantage of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor to tweet about his books "Pearl Harbor" and "Days of Infamy."  His insensitive advertisement was immediately mocked and Gingrich took it down, but not before Wonkette could comment, "Obviously, 'Everyone should go out and by Newt's book' was what Franklin Roosevelt originally said after the attack, but Gingrich has now taken down this tweet, because he hates the troops. TOO SOON."

The Pearl Harbor faux pas hasn't deterred Gingrich from using Twitter to promote more war novels in addition to self-help books and CDs just in time for the holidays. But all these blatant sales pitches have made Salon's Elliott suspicious of Gingrich's real political intentions.

All of this rank merchandising would look untoward for someone who was truly about to declare a candidacy for higher office (just ask J.D. Hayworth). In fact, Gingrich's actions over the past year or so--relentlessly fanning the presidential speculation while relentlessly selling stuff--do fit a narrative, but it's not one about a guy who's going to run for president.

Looking back to an Esquire interview with Gingrich's ex-wive Marianne, in which she asserts that Newt's goal is to make money not become president, settles Elliott's confusion. "That, for my money, is the most coherent explanation to date of the Gingrich phenomenon," he writes.