Roger L. Simon

Explaining Newt

A good portion of the right-wing punditocracy, Beltway sorts especially, appears to harbor a deep dislike of Newt Gingrich. They can’t believe he is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination and are doing everything in their power to enlighten the great unwashed about the multiple inadequacies of this man and knock some sense into them (us) before it is too late.


Now I am not a Beltway person. I am something even worse — a Hollywood & Vine person — so everything I say is suspect and should be. But allow me to chime in on why Newt is attractive to some of us at this juncture.

Let’s begin here: America is in a slough of despond. In fact, it’s in close to the worst shape it’s been since the Great Depression. Negativity rules the land. Few people are happy or optimistic. Basically, this once great nation is asleep.

And we have a president who wants us to stay there, who is banal, irritating, humorless, reactionary, self-righteous, and narcissistic all at once. He hasn’t said one interesting thing or proposed one creative idea since being in office.

Unfortunately, the Republican candidates aren’t much better. Romney, Perry, Santorum, Bachmann, Huntsman, even Paul, are no more than critics of a system gone moribund. They do not inspire us. Their ideas, even when worth investigating (flat tax, etc.), are no more than rehashes of proposals we have heard for decades.

Only Newt dances. Only Newt, on occasion, is original. Only Newt — and here is the important part — has the capacity to wake us up.

What attracts me about the man is the very thing that Romney criticized, the part that wants to explore the moon and stars, maybe even mine them.


Sure Gingrich has an idea a minute, many of which are bad, but at least he has ideas. At least he is thinking. And — guess what — he says what he thinks. Politicians aren’t supposed to do that.

But Gingrich reminds me more of a Steve Jobs or a Richard Branson than he does of a politician, and that is a good thing because politicians these days are the kind of people that make me want to bang my forehead against the desk.

And I would like to add — and perhaps this disqualifies me — that I don’t care who is more or less conservative, who is a RINO and who is not, or what kind of libertarian someone may or may not be. I think when your ideology has become rigid, you have checked your brains at the door. If you want proof of that, just look at today’s liberals. Their ideology has been extinct for years and they are walking around like the living dead, trying to preserve the welfare state and the vision of Lord Keynes while the whole world crumbles around them.

But, you’re saying, Gingrich has all these faults.. He’s erratic, arrogant, impatient, smart-alecky, thin- skinned, selfish, with a nasty grin like a roadshow Satan, etc., etc.

Well, yeah.

However… let me remind you of something. Now of all times we need a president to inspire us. And to do that we have to listen to him or her, lots of times, over and over, for four years, maybe eight.


Listening to Barack Obama is an intolerable experience, equivalent to putting your head in a vice or having permanent root canal work. Another four years of this I may just stick my hand down the garbage disposal.

Listening to Romney-Perry-Santorum-Bachmann-Paul-Huntsman would undoubtedly be an improvement in various ways depending on the person, but in no case is it a particularly exciting thought — more of a relief from the previous four years of perdition.

Listening to Newt Gingrich for four years, however, is an intriguing prospect. The man has a (Teleprompter-free) mastery of the English language well beyond any American politician of recent memory. And when you have a mastery of language, it generally means you actually have something to say.

That alone may be worth the price of admission.

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