Newt Gingrich has always been a man with a plan, whether as a high school student planning to marry Miss Battley, his geometry teacher (which he did--she's the one he later dumped while she was recovering from cancer), or as a college student plotting new ways to get deferments to avoid Vietnam, or as the architect of the Contract With America. Of course, that one ended rather badly for him in the Republican debacle of 1998, when he lost the Speakership and went home to reinvent himself and dump his second wife, Marianne.
Now Newt's back, with a plan to become president almost by magic. Here's what he told Fortune magazine:
"I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
Wow. I'm picturing David Blaine, only chubbier, older and even more full of himself. So...if he's not running, but he's waiting for a sign that the American people want him to be president, what do we do, text message our votes, like on American Idol, or something?
If only. Just to hedge his bets, Newt's all over Iowa and New Hampshire, and he's creating a 527 group that he hopes will be a campaign cash cow, should he ever deign to campaign. He is a guy with big ideas. He's also a guy with a big past--and not just the three marriages. You can read all about Newt in Naked Republicans, a Full-frontal Exposure of Right-Wing Hypocrisy and Greed, but for starters, we can't forget the ethics issues, the creation of the sleazy, bullying Republican revolving-door lobbyist system now known as the K street project, and the pouty government shutdown he orchestrated in a losing battle with Bill Clinton, just to name a few career highlights.
And speaking of pouty, after the Allen-Webb campaign, who can forget that Gingrich is the co-author of many books, like "1945," which contains this steamy passage:
Suddenly the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress. She rolled onto to him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. 'Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things,' she hissed.
'Terrible things' like writing really bad historical novels, presumably. Come to think of it, he writes historical fiction, and he's trying to fictionalize his history.
The mainstream media have short attention spans and even shorter memories, so Newt will get more than his share of uncritical free media as he launches his magical mystery tour.
Like the new Nixon in 1968, he's trying to be the new Newt, but he's not going to be able to shake off the old Newt as easily as he did his ex-wives.