I’m not saying that the presidential debates will end with Gingrich offering to pen a new foreword to Dreams from My Father, only that anyone banking on Newt to clobber Obama is flying on blind faith.
By the way, “Knut” is not the name just of a German polar bear, but also of the Danish and English king better known to us as “Canute” — the fellow who, at what is now Westminster, took his throne to the shore and commanded the incoming tide not to wet his feet. It declined to obey, as Canute knew it would: He staged the performance in order to teach his courtiers a lesson in the limits of kingly power. No such intimations of human limitation afflict the new Knut. Few politicians are more incisive at identifying the absurdities of America’s bloated, sclerotic leviathan — as he pointed out recently, the headquarters of the U.S. military’s Africa Command is in Stuttgart, which even Herman Cain might recognize as barely qualifying as the general ballpark. But no other candidate on the right shares the boundless confidence that Leviathan will work just swell if only Knut the Great is there to command it. For Republicans, this is not someone who is both “very conservative” and “very moderate,” but someone who is potentially the worst of all worlds: a man who embraces big-government solutions to health care, climate change, and all the rest, but who gets damned as a mean-spirited vindictive right-wing hater — the Gingrich who stole Christmas, to revive Newsweek’s 1994 cover story.