I may be somewhat alone in Left-leaning circles in admitting my grudging admiration for Mr. Gingrich. Say what you will about his politics – and there is plenty to say – but he is a master of knowing how to get what he wants, and then going out to get it.
In fact, if I had to pick someone to help get me elected, and what to do in my first 100 days, I might just pick him over any other like-minded individual. I just wouldn’t want him around much longer than that.
Is it because we’d clash over politics? No. Any politician who wants to reach the essential middle should hear the other side of the story. In fact, they have to.
No, it’s because Newt Gingrich has shown us – time and again – that he doesn’t know how to keep what he’s got once he has it. This deficiency in his character has cost him, and I wouldn’t want him to cost me as well.
Much has been said in recent days about Gingrich’s admission of having had affairs, but that’s old news to anyone who’s been paying attention. All that’s new is his willingness to talk about it in public.
No, the true news is that we have another piece to this puzzle: barring some mental instability or substance problem, why would an astute, forward-thinking and intelligent person be so cavalier towards the things he’s worked so hard to get? Why woo the woman of his dreams only to cheat on her? Why settle down with a new wife and then cheat on her as well?
Pop psychologists might say “sex addiction,” as they have done with his arch-enemy Bill Clinton. But if you look at Newt Gingrich’s life work as a whole I think there’s something less salacious at work, here.
I think he gets bored too easily.
Much like Bill Clinton, Gingrich lives for the chase. Their lives read like dual studies in hunting their obsessions, whether political or romantic, and seeing them through.
But neither man seems to truly and wholly enjoy the spoils. Sooner or later, they get bored with what they have gained and chase after something else, sometimes to the detriment of themselves and those around them.
However, unlike Bill Clinton, Gingrich has no idea how to maintain a static hold over those spoils: to wage a permanent campaign in love and power (or at least their illusion) to hold onto everything that’s been gained. With love, he drops what he’s got in favor of the new chase, eventually leaving the one he’s with for the new conquest.
And in politics? Well, he had a few “reinventions” on the way to Speaker of the House, but “New Newt” always gave way to old Newt. For every hand extended across the aisle in purported friendship there were at least three bombs thrown.
Then, while he was Speaker, he saw a chance to chase after something else: the Impeachment of the enemy of all normal Americans – William Jefferson Clinton. In his quest to accomplish this, he extended himself too far to recover when it all fell apart. And he left in disgrace not long thereafter…
But the leaving was not an abandonment of the hunt; It was yet another reinvention. He laid low, stayed mostly out of the news and laid down several pieces of groundwork for another try at saving Western civilization.
And now, when people have lost any emotional tie to his previous mistakes – when they no longer feel the anger or betrayal – he reappears with a smile and a plan, seemingly ready to pick up where he left off.
So isn’t the timing of Newt’s repentance just perfect? A floundering and aimless Republican Party is in search of a true post-Bush leader. Someone who can articulate a vision and win with it. Someone who’s been willing to campaign on a positive note. Someone with the charisma to reach that essential middle.