Nicely Naughty Newt

Article excerpt

Byline: Niall Ferguson

The political establishment gives us Saint Obama and Straight Mitt--that's why Sinner Newt is the one to beat.

The Christmas season is upon us, and that means it will be soon be time for the Ferguson family to deck the halls with holly and ivy, prepare the spicy mulled wine, and gather around the blazing Yule log to watch Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Beyond question the funniest film ever made, Life of Brian also contains my favorite line in all cinema. It's uttered by Terry Jones, in the role of Brian's mother. For those whose religious principles have prevented them from watching the movie, I should explain that the late Graham Chapman's Brian is an exact contemporary of Jesus Christ who entirely lacks the latter's divine qualities. Despite Brian's cluelessness, he is repeatedly mistaken for Our Savior. Finally, in exasperation, his mum erupts at a crowd of would-be Brian disciples: "He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Now piss off!"

In these words lies the key to one of the great mysteries of our time: why so many people seriously want the former House speaker Newt Gingrich to be the next president of the United States. It's because ... he's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy!

For Americans utterly fed up with President Obama's repeated failure to feed the five thousand, cure the lame, and turn water into wine, there is something irresistibly attractive about a man who embodies so many human frailties.

Four years ago, a large part of the nation was beginning to succumb to the delusion that a one-term senator from Illinois (of all places) was The One. Well, there's no danger of any of that kind of nonsense with Newt as nominee. Because he's as far from being the Messiah as it's possible to get. This is a man who was having an affair with a staffer while trying to oust President Clinton over his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. This is a man whose political career seemed to be at an end in January 1997 when he was fined by the House of Representatives for (in the words of the House ethics committee) "intentional or ... reckless" disregard of House rules. …