Monday, December 5th, 2016

Eye of Newt

2

As former Governor Mitt Romney’s other opponents for the Republican nomination for president appear to be imploding one at a time, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich seems to be enjoying a surge. Rich Lowry of National Review:

The chattering class that left Gingrich for dead months ago is now talking of a revival. Although his poll numbers have ticked up, it’s unclear whether Republican voters will cooperate with the new pundit narrative. But Gingrich deserves the proverbial second look. For all his vast and well-established flaws, he’s a figure whose strengths match the moment.

The Republican party has worked its way through about half a dozen outsider-populists in the past year, all of whom have proven either not particularly knowledgeable or careful about the issues, or uninterested in undergoing the rigors of running for president, or both. Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Perry all rose and fell. Herman Cain is still ascendant, but even if he remains unharmed by sexual-harassment allegations, he will probably be worn down over time by his touch-and-go command of substance and his lack of experience.

It’s counterintuitive to categorize a former speaker of the House and the builder of a sprawling archipelago of Beltway organizations as an outsider-populist. But Gingrich never lost his genius for the outré. In his bristling hostility to representatives of the media at the debates, he’s trained his fire on the institution that unites all Republicans in their disdain. He can be as inflammatory as Donald Trump and as populist as Sarah Palin. Yet he brings to the table the wellsprings of knowledge of a history Ph.D. and an incorrigible — insufferable, perhaps — policy wonk.

No politician has spent so long saying we need such fundamental change. It is typical of Gingrich that his 21st-century Contract with America is conceived as “a larger and more complex developmental challenge than any presidential campaign has undertaken in modern times.” Cue the eye-rolling. But the country now has such grave challenges even beyond the headline problems of joblessness and spiraling debt that there’s a place for a candidate devoted to upending 20th-century structures in health care, education, and more. Never have Gingrich’s extravagant overstatements seemed so apt.

The Lovely Doreen and I were joking with each other last night that if the potential personal scandals with no details bother you about Herman Cain, it’s time to switch to Newt Gingrich where the scandals are known in excruciating detail.

On the other hand, this picture just gets more valuable all the time:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (left) and James Wigderson October 26, 2010 at the Waukesha Expo Center

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