Warned against his tendency to self-glorification, Gingrich reacted to his amazing revival by modestly comparing himself to Reagan, Thatcher, and the founders of Walmart and McDonald’s. He left it to Joe McQuaid, publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader, to produce a comparison more appropriate to a statesman-historian of his stature: Winston Churchill. Like Churchill resigning as first lord of the Admiralty after the debacle of Gallipoli, Gingrich resigned as Speaker after the humiliation of the 1998 midterms. Like Churchill spending years in the political wilderness, Gingrich spent years in the wilderness of K Street. Like Gingrich demanding that Barney Frank and Chris Dodd be sent to jail for political profiteering, Churchill favored summary execution for the Axis leaders. Like Gingrich getting $1.8 million for services as a “historian” to Freddie Mac, Churchill was on a seven-figure retainer from Goebbels. No, hang on . . . Like Newt on Air Force One, Winston was made to exit King George VI’s Gold State Coach from the rear door. No, that’s not it . . .
Newt, says former New Hampshire governor John H. Sununu, is “inconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy, and unprincipled.” But, up against an untrustworthy, unprincipled opponent of consistently non-erratic soporific caution, that’s more than enough. Mitt Romney flutters no hearts. If you believe, as many Republican voters do, that a second Obama term is an existential threat to the republic, the house-trained torpor of the Romney campaign is an affront. Whether Newt is the antidote to it is a thornier question. The 44th president doesn’t loom especially large on the Gingrich canvas: If Newt were a disaster movie, Obama would be one of those bit players who get swept away in the general avalanche of devastation. As Gingrich laid it out to Newsweek, “You take brain science, you take personal and Social Security savings, you take offering the poor the opportunity to work and have a paycheck instead of food stamps, you take Lean Six Sigma” — a management-efficiency doctrine, his latest fascination — “and suddenly you have a Gestalt that is in many ways conservative, but in many ways very moderate.”