Coming in 'NYT' This Sunday: Newt Gingrich -- GOP Savior or Just Another Blowhard?

Article excerpt

A massive article by Matt Bai appearing this Sunday in The New York Times Magazine appears rather ill-timed. Titled "Newt. Again," it portrays former Speaker Gingrich as the prime idea man and rallying point for the Republican party just as his ideas and party appear more out-of-it than ever in the aftermath of the Bobby Jindal (a Newt favorite) response to Obama's big Tuesday speech.

Still, it somehow raises the hope or fear that Newt (he is mainly known by one name, like Che, the article proposes) will run for president in 2012, completing a "Nixonian" comeback.

The Times article reveals that Republicans claim that the conservative movement's "thunderbolts" are emerging from Gingrich's office, not the oldline Heritage Foundation or Cato Institute: He is "at the zenith of influence in conservative Washington." Frank Luntz says he is the one guy he would consult on bringing the party back: "This guy would be the perfect 'Behind the Music' story, because he was on top, and then he lost it all, and now he's back and bigger than ever.

Bai describes what are called "Newtgrams" - his daily emails bearing policy ideas or advice. But as the article goes on, the puffing up of Gingrich as "idea man" falls apart as the trail of his ideas, and defeats, emerge. We learn that one of his key email ideas proposed that instead of a stimulus plan the party ought to propose a four month payroll-tax holiday. Another idea: no personal or corporate income tax and no FICA tax for a full year.

Also: a space-based air traffic control idea that would, by the way, he dreams, "cut the number of unionized air-traffice controllers by 7,000."

Then, in talking to Bai -- who hails Newt's brain power -- Gingrich gets excited about the wisdom in the 1913 Girl Scouts Manual, and interrupts the interview to ask his aide to order four copies of it from Amazon. …

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