What About Newt?
Mary Katharine Ham ponders an ’08 run by the former Speaker:
So, what of the old hubris? What does it mean for a possible presidential run? It’s undoubtedly still there. It’s what makes him self-appointed spokesperson for, well, the very future of the Republican Party and American civilization. It’s also what makes him a good deal more electric than the rest of the possible ’08 candidates, but is it the liability it was?
I imagine it’s less of a problem than it was in the ‘90s. If the problem was properly selling the ideas inside the “Contract With America” to the American public, then Gingrich has spent the last 10 years working as a veritable traveling salesman for them (and his books, of course).
And, he’s good at it. He has ideas—the real, concrete kind, the kind the Dems haven’t seen since they started spending all their time mustachioing Bush portraiture in new and inventive ways—and he articulates them well.
He speaks without a whiff of moral relativism when he talks Islamofascism. He knows, for instance, that the current health care system, Medicare, and Social Security are huge threats to both the health and economic status of generations of future Americans. He knows these issues aren’t sexy, and he knows it might be easier politically to ignore them, but he talks about them, and he does it with a sense of purpose and optimism that is contagious.
Of course, all this political courage might disappear the moment Gingrich becomes a bona fide politician again. And, even if it didn’t, talking about tough, decidedly unsexy issues does not necessarily a President make. There is a reason politics so often exists unburdened by political courage.
But wouldn’t it be fun to see Newt make a run? Wouldn’t it be fun to see him talk about problems and solutions and maybe, just maybe, force his opponents to talk about them, too? Whether you agree with him on every issue or not, I think this horse could only strengthen a Republican stable that has had me doing little more than sighing.
I couldn’t agree with Ham more. Surveying the potential ’08 Republican candidates is often a painful exercise and no one would breath life into the race for the Republican nomination more than Newt Gingrich. And there seems to be a growing number of conservatives that are beginning to welcome the idea largely as a result of Gingrich’s ability to talk about important issues with a refreshing candor rather than platitudes and pandering (like, say, offering to mail out checks to help people pay for gas).
In terms of his hubris, Gingrich suffered a very public humbling that perhaps has taught him a valuable lesson on how to go about achieving his goals (I mean, how else can one possibly explain his coziness with Senator Clinton on health care reform?). And his new approach seems to be paying off in spades–Gingrich practically had Joe Klein swooning in a TIME Magazine piece this April.
Hopefully we’ll see Gingrich enter the race for no other reason than to help revitalize a largely stagnant Republican party.