Thanks to all the folks at the American Spectator for setting up the breakfast this morning with Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich's analysis of the problems with the GOP is one of the best I've heard. His urging that conservatives start comparing the withdrawal from Iraq with the withdrawal from Vietnam and Cambodia is great strategy, a surefire way to put the left on the defensive. How many politicians would get into an extended debate with Ed Hudgins over the religious beliefs of the Founding Fathers (indeed, how many people would engage in such a debate)? And FedEx versus Government Bureaucracy is great.
No two ways about it. Newt is brilliant.
Unfortunately, Newt knows he is brilliant. As a result, he has little control over his ego. During his talk, I couldn't help but feel that, according to Newt, the GOP wouldn't have all of the problems it does if everyone in charge would just listen to Newt.
Of course, let's not forget that when Newt was in charge, things didn't go too smoothly. As Speaker he was a P.R. debacle - his personality was volatile, and the Democrats took advantage of it by constantly baiting him. It didn't take long for him to achieve a very negative image among the public. He led the GOP into the disastrous government shutdown. During his last two years as Speaker, the dissatisfaction with him among the GOP in the House grew to the point that an abortive coup was plotted against him - a coup which led to the end of Bill Paxon's political career. And his support among the GOP in the House had so eroded by November of 1998 that he had to resign as Speaker after the GOP did so poorly during the election that month.
What bothered me most about his remarks this morning was how he tried to blame those failures on others. I recall him complaining that in early 1998 the Senate GOP leadership told him that they didn't want any new ideas, that Monica and impeachment would take care of the election that year. Even if that is true, so what? Did Newt take marching orders from the Senate? If new ideas were such a great campaign strategy, why didn't Newt work to make the House GOP run on them regardless of what the Senate GOP wanted?
If Newt were to run for President, all of his deficiencies as a leader would surely come to the fore again, and the media would have a field day chewing him up. Given how bleak things look right now, the GOP hardly needs the drag that would be the Newt for President campaign.
Newt is a great idea man. He provides the GOP and the conservative movement a wonderful service in that role.
Why mess that up with a run for the Oval Office that would prove disastrous?