In politics, we all have our time in the dunking booth. Former speaker Newt Gingrich has just taken his seat. He has been there before. The ritual of trying to shoot someone down when they are up is nothing new. The former speaker has a personal, political, and commercial history that will be under a microscope for a while.
Some of it is fair, some of it is driven by an extreme desire to silence Gingrich. It infuriates many on the left that he has survived so long. They fear him; they fear his ideas, his command of facts and history. His longevity grates his critics. Gingrich will get an extra dose of scrutiny with real-time commentary and extra-loud wailing about all the sins his critics perceive. But, like no other candidate, Gingrich knows what to expect and he knows how to handle it. The man can take a punch. His challenge will be to counterpunch in a way that doesn’t fuel more hostile inquiry, and to keep it cool and smile for the next few weeks.
Carter suggests that Gingrich could learn some lessons from Mao. I’m sure Mao never had time in a political dunking booth, and sharp and pointed scrutiny from the media was never a big concern for him. Anyway, it’s interesting that Carter would invoke the founder of Communist China. In true Republican style, and following the J. Edgar Hoover model, I’m starting a file on Carter. His familiarity with Mao’s little red book is duly noted.
His colleagues used to say that Gingrich always needs to be in a little trouble — it tempers his ego and worst instincts. When things went well for the old Gingrich, he would overreach, over-preach, and alienate even those that were his most loyal disciples.
Maybe now is the moment for the new Gingrich to appear and revive his old allies — and impress those who only know or remember the old caricature.