Is Newt Gingrich an enormous improvement on the current occupant of the Oval Office? Yes.
Is he an excellent debater? Yes.
Does he take it to President Obama in a way that delights all of us? Yes.
Does he carry a load of baggage that -- if he were the nominee -- would guarantee that, with the help of a compliant press, the election would end up being a referendum on him, rather than on President Obama? YES.
The Atlantic has helpfully provided a list here
, ranging from controversial remarks (or at least those the press would portray as such) on gays, African Americans and poor children to involvement with Jack Abramoff to his previous support for the legalization of marijuana.
It's no fun defending the shifts in position made by Mitt Romney over the course of his career. But it's even less fun -- and harder -- when the defense needs to be made on both personal and policy grounds, as it does with Gingrich.
Let's not confuse someone who's an admittedly brilliant talker with someone who will be an effective leader. Seems to me that the country already did that in 2008. And unlike its treatment of the '08 version of the brilliant talker, this time, the press is going to be invested in making sure the public knows every piece of information that would create uncertainty about Gingrich.
Don't let the former Speaker's admittedly effective retort to Nancy Pelosi reassure you. Does anyone really think that if Gingrich becomes the nominee, his confidential files won't leak from "anonymous sources" who will be zealously defended by the press?
If there's nothing to hide in the files, better to advocate their release now, when all of us can see them, rather than threatening (ineffective) reprisals against those who would release them later.