The more I see Newt Gingrich out there on the stump, the more I like him. The more I think, “Okay, this could actually happen.”
He’s clearly won not just the debate, but the contest of ideas, and the exhibition of passion. He can think on his feet, he’s fearless, and does anyone doubt that he would clean Barack Obama’s clock in the debates this autumn?
Still: he makes me nervous. I’m just being honest, here, Gingrich supporters.
So, reposted here, without comment, is this morning’s press release from Romney World, in which Speaker Gingrich compares himself to, among others, Moses, Pericles, Charles De Gaulle, and a viking:
Ronald Reagan And Margaret Thatcher: “Gingrich said he learned a lot about himself in the political wilderness. … In the same breath, he compares himself to two conservative giants. With Gingrich, humility has its limits. ‘Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.’” (Jim Acosta, “Newt Gingrich Back From The Brink,” CNN.com, 11/16/11)
Abraham Lincoln: “Gingrich began his speech with remarks in which he predicted an economic recovery ‘literally’ the night Republicans would send Barack Obama home, and then announced, ‘I begin as Lincoln did.’ He argued that, like Lincoln, all his ideas came out of the Declaration of Independence.” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)
Woodrow Wilson: “He earned a PhD in history and taught college before winning a seat in Congress. He has often spoken of himself as a historian. In 1995, he told CNN’s Bob Franken: ‘I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.’” (John Pitney, “Five Myths About Newt Gingrich,” The Washington Post, 11/22/11)
Henry Clay: “Putting his tumultuous four years in the speaker’s chair into historical perspective, the former history professor compared himself to 19th century statesman Henry Clay, ‘the great compromiser’ who lost three bids for the presidency and served as speaker and secretary of State. Gingrich said that like Clay, he did more than just preside over the House. ‘I was not a presider, I was the leader,’ Gingrich said in the interview. ‘I think Henry Clay’s probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.’” (William Welch, “Gingrich: I’ll Go Down As Leader, Clinton As Tragedy,” USA Today, 8/30/99)
Charles De Gaulle: “‘At one point, I asked Gingrich, now a healthful-looking 65, about his sudden exit from Congress in 1998. ‘First of all, in the Toynbeean sense, I believe in departure and return,’ he told me. ‘In the what sense?’ I asked. ‘Arnold Toynbee,’ he replied matter-of-factly, referring to the English writer Arnold J. Toynbee, who wrote ‘A Study of History.’ ‘I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises for 11 years.’ ‘I’m sorry?’ ‘Departure and return. And someone once said to me, if you don’t leave, you can’t come back, because you’ve never left.’” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)
William Wallace: “‘If you go out and see what’s happening in the Tea Party, the last thing you want is a passionless election,’ Gingrich says, then refers to the epic movie about the battle for Scottish independence in the 13th century. ‘Remember Braveheart? These people want somebody who plants a flag in the ground, gives a speech and yells “Charge!” That is, someone like him.” (Susan Page, “Rising From The Pack, Gingrich Invites Scrutiny,” USA Today, 11/21/11)
Pericles: “In a long interview on May 4, 1992, devoted almost exclusively to the topic of Gingrich, [former White House aide Richard] Darman concluded that Gingrich was ‘an unstable personality’ who talks about four or five great people in history, including Pericles and himself.” (Bob Woodward, “In His Debut In Washington’s Power Struggles, Gingrich Threw A Bomb,” The Washington Post, 12/24/11)
The Duke Of Wellington: “Obsessed recently with Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, [Gingrich] likened the appropriations triumph to the way the British expeditionary force maneuvered against the French during the Peninsular War, a campaign in Portugal and Spain in the early 1800s that eventually led to Wellington’s ascendance and Napoleon’s abdication.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)
A Viking: “With his machine-gun staccato delivery, [Gingrich] is the center of attention. He terms himself a ‘Viking.’” (“Gingrich Delivers For GOP Faithful,” South Bend Tribune, 7/28/95)
Thomas Edison: “Once he took over GOPAC in 1986, the organization became what he called the creative thinking and research group of the Republican Party. ‘We are on the way to becoming the Bell Labs of politics,’ Mr. Gingrich proclaimed. ‘That’s the closest model you can find to what we do, and nobody else is in that business. The first thing you need at Bell Labs is a Thomas Edison, and the second thing you need is a real understanding of how you go from scientific theory to a marketable product.’” (Katharine Q. Seelye, “Birth Of A Vision,” The New York Times, 12/3/95)
Vince Lombardi: “By four in the morning, [Gingrich] had moved on to football metaphors. What the Republicans had accomplished, Gingrich said, was like the old Green Bay Packers sweep during the days of Coach Vince Lombardi: The opposition knows you are going to run at them, but they cannot stop you. Lombardi, Gingrich said, believed that the team that doesn’t break in the fourth quarter wins.” (Michael Weisskopf and David Maraniss, “In A Moment Of Crisis, The Speaker Persuades,” The Washington Post, 8/13/95)
The Wright Brothers: “At that dinner, held in a convention center in Johnston, Gingrich sought to add more emotional lift into his stump speech. ‘I am asking you to embark with me on a voyage of invention and discovery,’ he said, ‘to be as bold and as brave as the Wright brothers.’” (Jason Horowitz, “Newt Gingrich Draws Contrast With Romney,” The Washington Post, 12/1/11)
Moses: “On this night, Gingrich congratulated his troops on standing united and inspired them with stories about Charles de Gaulle’s heroism and George Washington at Valley Forge … At one point, he likened himself, lightheartedly, to Moses. He’d help them cross the Red Sea once again, Gingrich vowed, but only if they promised, this time, to stay on the other side.” (Matt Bai, “Newt. Again.” New York Times Magazine, 2/25/09)
I want a president who thinks big. But I also want a president who doesn’t think he’s a viking. Or am I being too choosy?