Friday, June 10, 2011

Newt Gingrich's Intelligence - Hidden in Plain Sight?

I keep finding assertions that Newt Gingrich is a brilliant man. Brimming with insights and ideas. Except... I have yet to read an editorial, hear a speech, or see any other actual evidence of that brilliance. I'm not arguing that he's stupid - not at all - but what I see seems like a pretty run-of-the-mill intellect for a successful Washington politician. Above average, but nothing to write home about.

I'm fully prepared to buy into Newt as the intellectual giant of the GOP, but only if somebody shows me the evidence. I won't even ask that you explain away his many mistakes - smart people make mistakes, and sometimes can think their way into trouble. Arguably a stupid man would have an easier time staying on message in today's Republican Party, as I expect it's easier to stay on the right side of litmus tests if you don't have the aptitude to think about whether the positions you're supposed to take are in fact what's best for the nation.

I come across smart people all of the time, including people whose political philosophies vary from my own. Am I missing something? Or is it that I am to be awed by his ability to promote himself and rake in huge amounts of cash by serving as the Ed McMahon of right-wing political causes, and conclude that anybody so good at enriching himself has to be smart?


  1. Apparently he has lots of ideas! Which means he's smart! Really, that's all I got.

  2. Hey Aaron,
    Seems that there's a difference between being very smart and being the best the GOP can offer. The evidence for the first one is exactly what you've identified, but evidence for the second requires that you make some comparative judgments. It's there that Newt starts looking better.

  3. So it's a "big newt in a small swampland" thing?

  4. I think that you can trace the roots of Newt's behavior to his stint as a history teacher at West Georgia College. He instinctively treats everyone in the room as students who are there to receive a lecture - a captive audience for his cockamamy theories, from whom he disdains critical feedback. He seems to exist in an echo chamber of his own making, safe from any disturbing insights into his own folly.