It is less easy to see what lights Newton L. Gingrich's fuse, beyond the conviction that we need him. An equally sizable datum has to do with his apparent need for us and our acknowledgment of his genius. Romney's real opening lies here, it would seem -- assuming that beneath Romney's Romneyness is a deep and communicable conviction of a call to restore a beloved country's fortunes; to rescue it from pursuing wolves and give renewed shape to the ideal of liberty under law.
It isn't all about Obama, this mess we're in. To say otherwise is to compliment -- unreasonably -- a cagey president with more inner drive than demonstrated ability. Wasn't it the American people who put him where he is, giving him, in the process, a Congress obedient to his will? Possibly something within us -- we, the people -- requires bandaging, medication and clarification of half-lost memories if the national spirit is to revive.
A political bulldog needs a good set of teeth, but similarly, he needs un-canine reverence not just for means but also for ends, for goals and objectives, and outcomes. Is liberty still a good thing? Does the Declaration of Independence still make sense? Assuming the answers are yes, can Mitt Romney show us how and why, and what to do about it? Or does he fancy himself always staring down at us from a Harvard Business School lectern, as seems to be the general impression now?
The Gingrich bulldog bites loudly, entertainingly. That might yet prove enough for Republicans, if Romney's act fails to gel. Whether the American electorate would arise in November to applaud the GOP for such a choice -- put me down as enduringly skeptical.