Every few years, heinous Democratic policies -- abortion, gay marriage, affirmative action, Hillarycare, Obamacare, to name a few -- compel previously uninvolved Americans to leap into politics.
This is great, except for two things: (1) We have to get heinous Democratic policies first; and (2) newcomers have short memories, sometimes no memories at all.
The second point is the only possible explanation for why some conservatives seem to view Newt Gingrich as the anti-Establishment outsider who will shake up Washington.
Newly active right-wingers would do well to spend a little more time quietly reading up on Newt's political career, and a little less time shaking their fists at some imaginary "Establishment" -- which now apparently includes Michael Savage, Mark Steyn, Christine O'Donnell, Ramesh Ponnuru, Glenn Beck and me, all of whom oppose Newt's candidacy. (By the way, guys, are we car-pooling to the next Trilateral Commission meeting? I have a thing at the World Bank that same day.)
Only then will they realize that Gingrich would be a disaster for everything they believe in.
His history of lurching from guru to guru, fad to fad and wacky pronouncement to wacky pronouncement has produced few real gains -- except for Gingrich's personal bank account.
Despite Gingrich's constant claim that he -- hand in hand with Ronald Reagan -- lassoed big government and won the Cold War, this is delusional. Newt was a freshman House member when Reagan was elected president, no more important than Rep. Bill Green, R-N.Y., who was also elected to the House in 1978.
But Gingrich recently told Sean Hannity, "I helped Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp develop supply-side economics ..."
In Ronald Reagan's autobiography, "An American Life," he writes extensively about supply-side economics. He cites Jack Kemp several times. He never mentions Newt Gingrich.
(However, in Reagan's massive 784-page diary, Newt's name does come up -- once. On Jan. 3, 1983, Reagan wrote that he met with "a group of young Repub Congressmen," and says that one of them, "Newt Gingrich," proposed freezing federal spending at 1983 levels, which Reagan rejected out of hand because it would "cripple our defense program.")
I licked stamps for Reagan mailings when I was in high school. I didn't formulate supply-side economics or win the Cold War.
Gingrich is credited -- mostly by himself -- for single-handedly engineering the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress.
Actually, I think Clinton deserves the lion's share of the credit for that one. In November 1994, a majority of Americans didn't know Newt's name; they voted Republican in reaction to two years of Clinton's liberal policies.
The current speaker of the House, John Boehner, presided over a bigger Republican victory last November, handing Democrats the largest single-party loss in the House since 1938. (Again, all glory to Obama for that one.) I don't see Boehner going around comparing himself to Winston Churchill or proposing that we make him president.
Nor, by the way, does Boehner seem "scary" or "unlikable" -- which is how half to a majority of Americans described Gingrich after one year of seeing him as speaker.
Boehner is also not likely to be reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee and fined $300,000, as Gingrich was his second term as speaker. Nor, as far as we know, is he sleeping with any of his female staffers in the middle of a sex scandal involving the White House, as Gingrich -- well, you know.
Contrary to Gingrich's boast, "I balanced the budget for four straight years," he was one of 535 members of Congress -- he wasn't even a senator, who don't rule by simple majority vote like House members do.
Balancing the budget required the votes of hundreds of representatives and senators -- many of whom did not come from safe Republican districts like Gingrich's -- as well as the acquiescence of President Clinton.
His fellow House Republicans apparently did not consider Newt crucial to victory, inasmuch as they forced him out in 1999, after he had served just two terms as speaker.
The man who obsessively compares himself to Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill responded to his ouster as speaker by denouncing disgruntled Republicans as "cannibals," and announcing his retirement because, if he stayed in Congress, "it would just overshadow whoever my successor is."
(I gather Ron Paul is doing well, since Newt is suddenly claiming that in the '90s, he single-handedly invented, developed and passed Ron Paul.)
Before angry rebels foist another Sharron Angle on the national party and turn a likely win into a landslide defeat, consider that Gingrich is almost certainly unelectable based solely on his having cheated on and divorced two wives.
This isn't just a personal moral position. You may call it a historical fact.
Despite regular assurances from The New York Times that Americans don't mind divorced presidents anymore -- why, look at how well Bob Dole, John McCain and John Kerry did! -- only one president in the nation's history has been divorced: Ronald Reagan. And his first wife left him, as was well-documented in Hollywood gossip sheets.
Reagan also didn't commit adultery ever, much less twice, much less once in the middle of impeaching a Democratic president for perjuring himself about an adulterous affair.
(For close Newt watchers, Reagan also didn't write a doctoral dissertation criticizing Christian missionaries who discouraged adultery in the Congo on the grounds that adultery was "the essence of tribal stability." Guess who did?)
The good news, right-wingers, is that if you read up on Gingrich's history pre-November 2011 -- even just as far back as a couple of years ago when he was cutting global warming ads with Nancy Pelosi, lobbying for embryonic stem cell research, or taking a $1.6 million payoff from Freddie Mac -- you won't be so despondent about divorce and adultery keeping this particular adulterer out of the White House.