Gingrich believes "We are in two different worlds: a world of stunningly rapid evolution in the private sector; and a world of stunning decay in bureaucracy." He pointed to New Orleans after Katrina as one glaring example of the failure of government at all levels, while also noting the dependent culture and expectations by many that government, alone, would help them escape a natural disaster.
To find the best leaders available, Gingrich says we must discard the current model of "cattle calls of 10 people offering 30-second solutions to Iraq (which) Š makes an absurdity of running for office." Instead, Gingrich proposes nine 90-minute dialogues between Labor Day and Election Day 2008 -one per week - in the spirit of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates, with only two candidates and a timekeeper/moderator. It would be broadcast, or carried on C-Span and the Web so that "people can decide who has the maturity, knowledge and values (that can) get us out of this mess."
In an e-mail exchange, Gingrich tells me he also plans to host nationwide workshops Sept. 27 and 29 on ways to transform all 511,000 elected offices in the country. And after that, he says, "I'll consider other possibilities," which I take to mean a decision on whether to run for president.
Watch the video of the Cooper Union conversation. Though Cuomo indulges in a lot of standard Democratic boilerplate rhetoric, even he rises to the occasion near the end, impressed by Gingrich's desire for real change, regardless of who gets the credit.
I don't know if Gingrich would make the best president, but after watching his "conversation" with Mario Cuomo, I doubt there is anyone who has thought more about the problems that confront us, or who has better ideas about how to fix them.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.