Sunday, July 8, 2007

Newt Gingrich for President?

There are a lot of observers out there that don't think much about Newt Gingrich as a presidential candidate. To many, he is a tired, old-and not very attractive face. Others point out that Gingrich has a lot of negatives and high public disapprovals. All that is true, but to me, the idea of Newt jumping into the race is rather intriguing, and I think it would enhance the Republican field, especially during debates.

Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House, jumped into prominance in the 1990s as the architect of the Republican "Contract with America", that laid out his party's platform and priorities, enabling the party to take over control of Congress. Later, his star sank in Congress, especially during the Clinton impeachment proceedings, as his own personal failings started coming to light. Now out of public office, Gingrich contemplates jumping into the Republican race with no decision on the immediate horizon. What is he waiting for? Why the indecision? If he really wants the job, and he thinks he is the best person for it, why not make the decision and announce?

It seems to me that Newt, a Civil War buff (and author), is quite the strategician. This reminds me of the time he was Speaker of the House, one day going after Clinton and his scandals with a vengeance, the next day backing off, the day after, back on the hunt, much like a general deciding when to attack and when to make a strategic retreat. So now on the outside, he sits and watches the other candidates before he makes his final decision. In the meantime, he keeps himself in public view with TV appearances, conferences and other initiatives.

It is easy to ridicule Gingrich, especially since his marital failings have become public knowledge. Remember the ex-wife who was recovering in the hospital from cancer surgery when Newt asked for a divorce? If you have not heard about that one, you will hear plenty about it if Gingrich runs and becomes the nominee. That would also remove a key Republican advantage if Hillary is the Democratic nominee as most predict; that advantage being the public's fatigue with the Clinton marital soap opera.

Personally, I don't think Gingrich has a snowball's chance of being elected president or even getting the Republican nomination. However, I hope he decides to run, and here is why: Not only is Gingrich an experienced insider in Washington politics, which has its advantages. He is also a historian, former college teacher and a damn intelligent person. Most importantly, no one in the Republican field is as eloquent in articulating conservative principles as Gingrich. From talking about the War On Terror, Illegal Immigration, taxes or what have you, no one can match him for making his case in a manner that would appeal to both brain surgeons and blue collar workers. Whether he would always carry out his principles in office or do what is politically more prudent at the moment is another question.

At any rate, if Gingrich joins the race, he will be a forceful presence in any debate. Further, he will improve the quality of the debates, and force some candidates to better articulate their own plans for running this country. If for no other reason, I hope he will decide to get in.

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