One would have thought that the whole Donald Trump misadventure marked the ne plus ultra of political stupidity in this campaign season. The Donald, with his bottomless vulgarity and seemingly matchless egoism, was, in many respects, the weirdest 'serious' presidential candidate since the great demagogues of the thirties, if not the weirdest since the eighteen seventies "free love" feminist, Victoria C. Woodhull.
Then the Donald's ludicrous misadventure suffered three successive fatal blows. The first came when Obama produced his birth certificate, thus providing proof positive to anyone but a paranoid lunatic or a Worldnet Daily true believer ( but I repeat myself.), that he was, in fact, born in the USA. The second was a self inflicted wound by the real estate robber baron himself, when he displayed his intelligence and good taste by letting loose with the " F-bomb" before an audience of proper, pious, Republican ladies. The third came during his nauseatingly smarmy and meretricious reality TV show, Celebrity Apprentice. Trump was about to make a terrifying command decision, Should he fire Hope or Nene? Then, the broadcast was interrupted with the news that Obama had made a real command decision, and that he had sent Osama Bin Laden off to whatever reward he may deserve.
The cumulative effect of these three events was to reveal Trump's presidential campaign for the squalid exercise in self- promotion it actually was. Now Trump can go back to his true calling, strutting like a peacock to impress b- list celebrities, enriching his divorce lawyers, and using eminent domain to try to cheat widows and orphans out of their estates, so he can build still more casinos and luxury high- rises.
Of course, Trump's fall left a vacuum. Where would the GOP find a presidential candidate as nauseating? Yesterday, they found their answer. Like Trump, he is a grotesque vulgarian. Like Trump he is self-promoting egoist. Like Trump, he has an enormous head of luxuriant hair ( though it is probably his own.) Unlike Trump, he can actually lay claim to possessing a modicum of intelligence, and even abilities as a policy theorist. He in fact, has a doctorate in African history, from a reputable university. ( Tulane). He is none other than Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich, PH.D, and he wants to party likeit is 1994.
There have been many strange careers in the annals of American politics, and that of Newt is, perhaps, the strangest of all. Looking at his many adventures over the years, one is tempted to recall what the sixth Marquess of Salisbury ( Or was it the fifth? I get all those able, worthy, pious members of the Cecil family mixed -up sometimes.) said about another extremely ambitious chaser after the glittering prizes, Iain McLeod. The old gentleman shook his finger at McLeod during some now forgotten Tory party debate and cried out, " Too clever by half! "
Whether the aging Tory Grandee was wholly fair to McLeod is a matter for dispute; what is not matter for dispute is that those words apply all to well to the " newtster" . In primary school, Newt won all the prizes, and made everyone aware of the fact. His secondary education culminated in a well researched, and it must be said, intelligent, doctoral dissertation on educational policy in the Belgian Congo. Its thesis was that the Congo colonial overlords sowed the seeds of their own destruction by doing such a good job educating the future Patrice Lumumba's and Moise Tshombe's
Newt probably dreamed of teaching at a top-tier university; he ended up teaching at a community college in Marietta Georgia. However, his ambition demanded more. In the seventies, he ran twice for congress, as an ecologically minded, liberal to moderate Republican, and failed both times.
He leaned his lesson well, and soon shifted to the right. His new found conservative ideology and the not inconsiderable political skills he had acquired in his first two unsuccessful campaigns finally helped propel him into congress, where he soon acquired a reputation as a bomb throwing grenadier for the Reagan revolution. His often grandstanding methods provoked the wrath of even such a good-natured politician as Tip O'Neil. Soon, he had become powerful enough to engineer the destruction of O'Neils somewhat oilier successor, Jim Wright. Then, he was clever enough to maneuver himself into the role of Republican house leader.
Everyone knows the sequel. Gingrich spotted the many weaknesses of the Democrats, who had ruled the House of Representatives since 1954. Determined to erase the Democrats majority, and help his own party seize power, he devised the famous or (infamous) "contract with America", and got all of the G.O.P. house and senate candidates to sign it. Clinton was going through a bout of unpopularity, and a combination of Clinton's negative coat-tails, a House banking scandal, and the G.O.P united front helped trigger the biggest midterm election landslide since the Democratic sweep of 1958.
Gingrich was now the first Republican Speaker of the house since Joe Martin, and arguably the second most powerful politician in America. Gingrich was an odd sort of speaker, the sort of man who was brimming over with clever ideas, but also afflicted with a kind of incurable charlatanism. Too clever by half, in other words. Gingrich's over weening ego soon became a national joke. He was sincerely angry that he didn't get a seat on Air Force One comparable to that of the President. He had mercilessly criticized Jim Wright for profiting off a book deal; it transpired that he was profiting off a book deal of his own. He even had a grandiose on line course on "'restoring American civilization", in which he cast himself as a champion of, and restorer of American civilization.
While he secretly made a pact with Clinton to stream-line government and balance the budget, he was a bitter candidate of Clinton in public. He was especially critical of Clinton's extra-marital dalliances. The problem with this was that Gingrich was throwing all his stones at Clinton while living in glass house of his own. this champion of domestic morality went through a messy divorce. He even visited his first wife in the hospital, ( She was being treated for cancer.), and handed her the divorce papers.
Soon, several of Newt's erstwhile Republican lieutenants in the House tried to organize a coup. Fortunately, they proved to be a gang that couldn't shot straight. However, Gingrich's scandals caught up with him, and the once powerful Speaker resigned his office trailing clouds of disgrace.
Gingrich then began a prolonged stay in the political wilderness. He co-wrote a number of mildly interesting historical novels, and tried to establish himself as a policy guru. Gingrich may be vain and unprincipled; he is not stupid. In fact, some of his policy ideas won plaudits from his old adversary Hilary Clinton. When the Obama epoch began, Newt tried to gain headlines by vociferously criticizing the President. He even began to make noises like a would-be presidential candidate.
And now, at long last, this oddly gifted but profoundly flawed man has made it official . He wants to make a bid for the most glittering prize of all. Gingrich might well be able to score debating points against Barack; Nixon after all, outpointed Kennedy. However, like Nixon he will, almost certainly, lose all the debates with the glistening, charismatic, imperially slim, President. Yes, Gingrich is a clever man. However, it is the wrong kind of cleverness. One of the neo-conservative intellectuals likes to quote a saying of his grandmother's. Whenever that elderly Jewish lady encountered someone who was too smart for his own good, she would simply shake her head and say "smart, smart, STUPID!" Gingrich may be the king of the smart, smart, stupids. The man named Newt will get a book deal out of all this, and he will make some of his fellow Republicans look dumb in debate. However, there is no conceivable scenario in which this man who is so fond of alternative historical scenarios can ever be president of the United States.