“I Think Grandiose Thoughts”

 

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:

Speaker Gingrich Has Compared Himself to a Litany of Historical Leaders:

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?  

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Members have made 115 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Mel Foil Inactive

    You can’t say he doesn’t aim high….

    • #1
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:11 am
  2. Profile photo of Cal Lawton Member

    Too bad he doesn’t think of himself as a shark. A singing shark.

    • #2
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:16 am
  3. Profile photo of K T Cat Inactive

    Do vikings stammer while answering tough, but totally predictable questions?  Probably not.  I’ll bet they simply disembowel the peasant who dared to ask.

    • #3
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:19 am
  4. Profile photo of Sandy Member

    At least Che and Saul are not on the list.  

    • #4
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:19 am
  5. Profile photo of Mollie Hemingway Contributor

    I suppose this is an effective hit piece from Romney but my own view is that 100% of all politicians are by definition narcissistic to the extreme.

    Newt’s just better at it than they are.

    Whether that’s good or bad is another question entirely.

    Face it, both Romney and Newt are weird people who have lived their lives with the idea that they deserved to be president. But so have most of our presidents. There should be a personality disorder named after this.

    • #5
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:21 am
  6. Profile photo of Grantman Inactive

     Hey – Weren’t Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis Vikings?  Pretty good company, I’d say.

    • #6
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:23 am
  7. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Perhaps you are just being cowardly? Our current president thinks he himself is greater than all those historical figures combined, but spends all his time whining about how hard his job is and how tough he has it because he isn’t a Chinese dictator. Maybe we need a megalomaniac who won’t waste his time worrying about his legacy, but will actually go out and DO the job of being president? (And personally, I like vikings, but a little Conan action on behalf of our nominee would be nice too.)

    • #7
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:23 am
  8. Profile photo of K T Cat Inactive
    Mama Toad: Perhaps you are just being cowardly? Our current president thinks he himself is greater than all those historical figures combined, but spends all his time whining about how hard his job is and how tough he has it because he isn’t a Chinese dictator. · 3 minutes ago

    Admit it, until we elected Barack Hussein Obama, you didn’t feel comfortable writing comments like that.

    Yes, he’s that great.

    • #9
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:30 am
  9. Profile photo of Anon Inactive

    Newt is the only one of the four left standing that could take Obama to the woodshed in presidential debates.  The nomination race is effectively between Romney and Gingrich.  Romney’s standing owes everything to the money he spends.  Gingrich’s standing owes everything to his innate capabilities as a thinker and speaker.  Obama has much more money than Romney, and that will neutralize Romney’s primary strength in a campaign.  But Obama can’t beat Gingrich when it comes to natural intelligence and, without teleprompters, he couldn’t hold a candle to Gingrich in public speaking and articulating solutions.

    It boils down to this:  Romney cannot win, and Gingrich will win.

    • #10
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:32 am
  10. Profile photo of liberal jim Inactive

    Romney could also compare himself to all of the above.  None of these figures were smart enough to hide millions of dollars in Cayman Island accounts whose dealings are not reported to the IRS unlike US accounts that mere mortals keep their money in.  

    If you want things changed in DC it will take someone like Newt to do it.  He makes me nervous too, but continuing down the same road as we would do under Romney scares me to death.

    • #11
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:32 am
  11. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member

    That’s an incredibly lame attack from the Romney camp. These aren’t really boastful comparisons. Newt is making literary and historical allusions. And in most of those listed above, he’s not making a personal comparison at all.

    Weaksauce, as the kids say. Romney is reaching. In fact, it tells me quite a bit about Mitt Romney that he can’t separate a historical allusion from a boastful comparison.

    • #12
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:33 am
  12. Profile photo of Hang On Member

    Vikings raped, looted, and pillaged. Having grandiose ideas is easy. Execution is hard. Passing legislation is simply step two. And I’ve never seen anything from the guy that gives me any comfort that he can execute. He’s never been an executive. He is very much like Obama.

    • #13
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:34 am
  13. Profile photo of Brian Clendinen Member

      I have know about this for years but my thought process has changed a bite in this election cycle.  My thought process is he might be an SOB but he is our SOB, or for the most part he is ours.  Granted this thought process might be subjective and likely to change because it is primarily based on how he is relative to other choices.

     

    • #14
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:36 am
  14. Profile photo of Trace Inactive

    I agree with Mollie, this stuff seems par for the course. What seems more relevant and legitimately impressive is his range of historical knowledge and the way the actions of great historical figures are burnished into his understanding of world events. While it does seem to discourage notions of small government, a cautious approach to military adventure, and a Constitutionally modest view of executive power and privilege, it does seem to be consistent with the notion of American exceptionalism: you can be sure that Newt will not be bowing before any foreign leaders.

    • #15
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:36 am
  15. Profile photo of George Savage Admin

    Rob, what do you have against Vikings?

    • #16
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:39 am
  16. Profile photo of Crow's Nest Member

    Newt does have a penchant for grandiosity–see Pearl Harbor and the Virginia Ballot–but that’s not a sufficient reason to disqualify him from higher office.

    Historical allusions are most effective when they call attention to something’s importance to hearkening back to something of equal importance in another context. Stating that failing to find a parking space is the equivalent of the sack of Rome is less a historical allusion than a ridiculously overwrought statement.

    • #17
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:43 am
  17. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

     If weare going to fail, I would rather fail spectacularily littering the landscape as a testament to our existence, than fail with a whimper and a slow receding into irrelevancy.

    • #18
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:43 am
  18. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.:There should be a personality disorder named after this. · 31 minutes ago

    It was called Rome.

    • #20
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:52 am
  19. Profile photo of Herkybird Inactive

    I think, given the state of the world, I would prefer a leader who thinks of himself as a Viking…a warrior…than I would someone who aspires to be a Vanderbilt or, worse, a Thurston Howell IV.  If Romney can’t dominate a TV talking-head, how is he going to face down an Ahmadinejad or a Vladimir Putin?  However, having said that, I think Mitt would make a great Vice President.

    • #21
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:53 am
  20. Profile photo of Matthew Gilley Member

    I’m just amazed there’s never been a Walt Whitman comparison (or maybe there has, but it hasn’t been dug out yet):  ”Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”

    • #22
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:53 am
  21. Profile photo of Andrew Inactive

    I was at the debate. The crowd was really behind Newt. I am sure that the cheering was somewhat modulated for television, but the audience was fired up.

    The sense that I got from speaking with folks afterwards was this:  — Because conservatives have been beaten into relative silence by the PC Police for so many years, they feel like they have found a voice in Newt.

    I am excited to go vote for Newt tomorrow morning. I hope that he blows the doors off of SC.

    • #23
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:57 am
  22. Profile photo of Pseudodionysius Member

    I’d like to see him slap TOTUS around for awhile during a CNN debate. He’d likely tell John King:

    “Go sit in the corner. I’m not finished yet. I’m coming for you next.”

    • #24
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:58 am
  23. Profile photo of Jerry Carroll Inactive
    DrewInWisconsin: T

    Weaksauce, as the kids say. Romney is reaching. In fact, it tells me quite a bit about Mitt Romney that he can’t separate a historical allusion from a boastful comparison. · 21 minutes ago

    Edited 10 minutes ago

    What kids say “weaksauce”?

    • #25
    • January 20, 2012 at 7:58 am
  24. Profile photo of The King Prawn Member

    I can only imagine Newt’s response to something like this from the Obama campaign: at least I know who all those figures are without having to reference wikipedia.

    • #26
    • January 20, 2012 at 8:03 am
  25. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    Jerry Carroll

    DrewInWisconsin: T

    Weaksauce, as the kids say. Romney is reaching. In fact, it tells me quite a bit about Mitt Romney that he can’t separate a historical allusion from a boastful comparison. · 21 minutes ago

    Edited 10 minutes ago

    What kids say “weaksauce”? · 5 minutes ago

    Those internet kids!

    • #27
    • January 20, 2012 at 8:04 am
  26. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    Andrew:

    The sense that I got from speaking with folks afterwards was this:  — Because conservatives have been beaten into relative silence by the PC Police for so many years, they feel like they have found a voice in Newt.

    I think that is a huge part of Newt’s appeal. He is saying what so many of us have wanted to hear for so long.

    • #28
    • January 20, 2012 at 8:06 am
  27. Profile photo of Mollie Hemingway Contributor
    DrewInWisconsin

    Andrew:

    The sense that I got from speaking with folks afterwards was this:  — Because conservatives have been beaten into relative silence by the PC Police for so many years, they feel like they have found a voice in Newt.

    I think that is a huge part of Newt’s appeal. He is saying what so many of us have wanted to hear for so long. · 0 minutes ago

    Exactly. If you asked the average attendee last night what they thought of Newt’s marital past, they’d probably be the first to say they think it reflects poorly on him. What they were cheering, then, was probably something else. What? I suspect they’re sick and tired of the blatant double standards in how elites in politics and media treat conservatives versus liberals.

    • #29
    • January 20, 2012 at 8:09 am
  28. Profile photo of CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    Jerry Carroll

    DrewInWisconsin: T

    Weaksauce, as the kids say. Romney is reaching. In fact, it tells me quite a bit about Mitt Romney that he can’t separate a historical allusion from a boastful comparison. · 21 minutes ago

    Edited 10 minutes ago

    What kids say “weaksauce”? · 11 minutes ago

    Hipsters.

    • #30
    • January 20, 2012 at 8:10 am
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