In May of 2007 I sat in a small coffee shop with my friend and instructor, Dr. Wallace Roark. Roark spent a lot of time telling me about God, the world and all subjects related to the first two. Roark is a former Army Ranger, poultry judge, photographer, philosophy professor and logician.
Roark has been around. I got him on the internet, which increased the intellect of cyberspace and the burden on Roark, who is a contrarian's contrarian.
Roark asked me, "Who will be the candidates for president next year?"
This question was about the 2008 presidential campaign. I had a few ideas about the Democratic nomination, which I thought might come down to Hillary Clinton and Al Gore Redivivus. Mr. Obama was being urged to run but his absorption into American national politics was turgid, at the time.
"As for the GOP," I told Roark, "Newt Gingrich can have it if he wants it. He could beat McCain, though it is McCain's turn in the hierarchy and, due to his age, probably the last time he could be nominated."
"Gingrich?" Roark sniffed. "Gingrich is off the national scene."
"He will be back," I told Roark. "He is the last intellect in the GOP. He can make an argument for their arguments. He will not sit quietly among the platitudes."
I have no good reason why Newt did not run in 2008 but did decide to run this time. His baggage is no less weighty now. Newt himself is no less weighty come to think of it.
There are those who think Newt ran because he needed to get his brand out there again. His speaking fees and opportunities were dwindling. This is no small matter when you consider the size of the speaking fees these people command. Mr. Romney laughingly says he is not paid much for his lectures but reported $374,000 in fees in 2010 alone.
I would do it for half. I would make more sense.
This is an offer and a promise.
Mr. Gingrich, the wisdom says, is the candidate Romney decided to shoot at in Iowa with his Super PAC attack ads because Newt was close to Romney in the polls, had the most negatives and was the one many thought would drop out at the first sign of real trouble.
Mr. Romney is particularly good at raiding American companies in the form of venture (for the word "venture" here, substitute the word "vulture." Thanks, Governor Perry!) but terribly flawed in picking weaklings. Newt hit back, took money from a fellow who runs gambling casinos in China (no, really, seriously, look it up) and hung on through the winters of New Hampshire, while Huntsman and Perry floundered their way out of the race.
Now, Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum remain. Mr. Newt believes he can beat either of them and take their crowds by Super Tuesday. If Mr. Newt gets Governor Perry's money along with the nine delegates, Mr. Newt will throw yet another wrench in the works.
If he survives the interview his second ex-wife will give tonight on ABC. Again, the timing, forty eight hours prior to the South Carolina primary, is somewhat suspect. However, the American people have the right to know about their presidents.
Mr. Lincoln never belonged to a church. Mr. Cleveland fathered a child with a much younger girl to whom he was not married. Mr. Wilson had a stroke so severe the country had to be run by his second wife and Secretary of State.
I don't know if you know this but Mr. Roosevelt (Franklin) was a crippled man in a wheelchair. Mr. Reagan was divorced from a lovely actress named Jane Wyman. When he remarried it was to an actress/showgirl who held seances and followed astrology.
We all know a great deal more about Messrs. Kennedy, Johnson and Clinton than we might like to know. I personally wish Mr. Clinton had stopped talking at the moment he was asked about his underwear preference.
Today, when Governor Perry ends his campaign, he will ask his supporters to get behind Newt Gingrich. If all nine of them follow his instructions, Newt will get yet another bump in the South Carolina polls. If Newt wins South Carolina, Mr. Romney really loses his air of inevitability, his chance to begin to define himself as a national candidate instead of someone running to regional preferences (for "preferences" in this sentence substitute the word "prejudices") and any semblance of neo-con support.
Newt could throw a severe wrench in the works shortly. Now, one of his ex-wives, who has previously declared she could "end his political career with one interview," has gotten ABC to broadcast an interview in which she promises to "tell all." I imagine she will tell just enough to get a book deal and out on the lecture circuit but the timing is a bit of a stretch.
This should be good.
Writer's Note: Why do I spend so much screen time here on the GOP and mostly leave the Democrats alone? The Democrats are not running yet. Mr. Obama/Biden are happily entrenched inside the Beltway, with no need to say a word in their own defense. The market is up, unemployment is (slightly) down (until the next report when it will tick back up, since seasonal hiring is over and since more people will return from the "not looking for work" force) and the Republicans are making absolutely certain all their reputations are in ashes by Super Tuesday.
When the Dems come out, perhaps we can talk about the Senatorial campaign in Illinois that catapulted Mr. Obama to Washington, the plagarism of Mr. Biden and, oh, a hundred other things. Meanwhile, this news/political junkie (me) will continue to write.
Opinions here are mine alone.