Newt Is Back: NYT Magazine Profiles Gingrich

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Mar 01, 2009 10:12 AM
This week's New York Times Magazine features an interesting profile on former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

As conservatives look to find new ideas and new leaders, I found this excerpt especially telling:

"It's more that Republicans right now are desperately looking for direction from someone, ideally someone who knows how to handle an opposition president with a 65-percent approval rating. Normally this role would fall to a charismatic Congressional boss or to a vaunted strategist with a record of success. At the moment, Republicans have neither. The House leader, John Boehner, is a dealmaker of the 1980s Republican variety - smoker's voice, sculptured hair, a lobbyist's pinstripe suit. He's a solid guy, the kind you could golf with or put on your board of directors, but nothing about him makes you want to charge toward a machine-gun battery to take a hill. Over on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell, an expert floor tactician, seems about as socially uncomfortable as a man can be and still reach the pinnacle of politics. The closest thing the party has to a grand strategist, Karl Rove, offers most of his wisdom on Fox News, prompting a lot of Republicans who endured his tirades during the Bush years to shudder and change the channel."

There is little doubt that, if it is to happen, Gingrich (and for that matter, Rush Limbaugh) must play vital roles in rebuilding the conservative movement. While I do not think they are the future, per se, both Newt and Rush possess the rare ability to think creatively and strategically -- both vital components to "winning the future," as Newt might say.

(To be sure, not every leader from the 90s is capable of this -- in fact -- it is an extremely rare fraternity that seems to elude most "politicians". Still, it may ironically be leaders from the past who are best prepared to lead the GOP into the future.)

The conservative movement started out as an intellectual movement that was in opposition to the populist (and popular) Democratic majority. So, perhaps it shouldn't be terribly surprising that conservatives are looking to "ideas" men to bring the movement back.

Having interviewed Speaker Gingrich several times, my guess is that "ideas" men like Newt Gingrich have a lot more to offer today than do other politicians who relied on horse-trading or access to climb the greasy poll of politics.

Because Newt built his credibility on ideas, he is once again relevant. Though I have known this for years, the NYT cover, I suppose, makes it "official"...