Gift of gab not enough to carry Gingrich
Sanjay Paul

The article appeared in The Etownian, Sept. 30, 2010.

Newt Gingrich, former House speaker and future Presidential hopeful, recently used strong words to describe President Obama. He suggested that Obama had cleverly conned America into electing him to the highest office, and that to really understand Obama, one had to consider his “African anticolonial behavior.”

Now, Newt has many admirers. They say he is a brilliant man, an intellectual, a history professor! He is a man of ideas—one day he is pontificating on health care, the next day he is waxing eloquent on the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero (or, as he might call it, the Ground Zero mosque). He reads avidly—his views on Obama, he admits freely, were shaped by a Forbes article written by yet another dazzling intellectual Dinesh D’Souza who had earlier blamed the 9/11 attacks on American liberals. (Liberals, D’Souza has pointed out helpfully with the sort of acumen that comes from spending long months at the Hoover Institution, are also to blame for the Abu Ghraib torture and for subverting traditional standards of decency in American culture.)

But back to Newt. The man displays such learning, say his supporters admiringly, such wisdom! (Such encomiums, alas, are rarely heaped on economics professors—Phil Gramm, that sterling worthy, is a notable exception. Another likely candidate, Greg Mankiw, President Bush’s economic advisor, was hounded out of Washington DC after stating the eminently reasonable proposition that international trade was good for America in the long run.)

But even his most ardent supporters would concede that Newt has a slight problem. That he is occasionally—well, how to put this delicately?—impolitic. There is no doubt, his defenders would hasten to add, that Newt has the gift of the gab. That he is a masterful orator, weaving history and learning and stuff into his speeches to stunning effect. But not all his learning is artfully phrased; Newt, they admit grudgingly, gets carried away on occasion. He uses words that he shouldn’t. Troublesome words. Words that can be difficult to justify later on CNN. (Though not on Fox News—all is forgiven there!)

But that is what you get from A Man of Ideas. You get ideas (mainly boiling down to: government bad, tax cuts good), but you also get the occasional prickly phrase. You get to hear him call the President a con man. You get to hear him deprecate the President’s “anticolonial behavior.” (Wait a minute! If Obama is anticolonial, and Newt is against Obama, it must mean…ah, never mind.)

But will anyone remember all this? Some elements of the Tea Party probably think Newt was being charitable towards Obama. In any event, the 2012 presidential campaign will be here soon, and Newt will have other things to worry about. Like, how is he going to run against Sarah Palin? He will need all his wisdom to counter the raw appeal of Palin. And if that fails, well, there is always the Hoover Institution.

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