In 1994, an
event took place that was considered at the time a near impossibility when
one looks at the political boundaries that had been established post World
War II in Washington.
first time in four decades, the GOP had wrested control of the House of
Representatives from the Democrats. In turning 56 House seats from--in
today's terms--Democratic blue to Republican red, no one was more responsible
for this than a single Congressman from Georgia,
becoming Speaker of the House in 1995, and Time Magazine's "Man of the
Year", Gingrich found himself as one of the most powerful men in Washington.
His sometimes bellicose and bombastic approach to the leadership, primarily
due to the incredible success of his "Contract with America" plan, soon
pushed Gingrich out of the position of Speaker, and eventually, Congress in
who was once labeled as "the indispensable leader" by the Washington Times
and called "exceptional" by Time Magazine could not be expected to
return to Georgia and take up fly fishing.
week's rumblings about a possible presidential run in 2008 are not so far
fetched as some may think.
his new book "Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America",
through stops in, of all places, Iowa and New Hampshire, Gingrich is not just
selling himself, or re-selling himself--after six years away and enough bad
press to bury a good sized city under--but he will be listening very hard to
what these two political bellwether states have to say to the former
bellwether of the Republican Party.
of Hillary Clinton's "listening tour" in 1999 in New York, where she
essentially made appearances to "listen to the people", Gingrich may have it
in mind to do the same and sell a few books while he's at it.
interview given to the Associated Press (AP) on January 8, Gingrich
entertained presidential thoughts, and meted out criticisms and judgment that
are echoing through the coatrooms of Washington, and the cable channels.
thoughts on the presidency in 2008: "Anything seems possible", including a
White House race, Gingrich tells the AP. "It never hurts to maximize
opportunities. That's the American tradition. I don't think it's
very likely. On the other hand, if I have an impact on public policy
and do it in a way that is exciting and positive, why wouldn't I want to do
Gingrich has had a podium these last few years, as a Fox News analyst and
policy guru. And while he may or may not have had an effect on policy,
it wasn't because he did not have positions on the issues that drive the
chiding the Bush White House on the Iraqi war aftermath, Gingrich takes a
swipe at then-Iraqi administrator Paul Bremer: "When Bremer arrived, he
thought he was (General Douglas)
MacArthur in Japan .... he thought he had
five years to build an Americentric model. He just basically amputated
the entire postwar plan."
But in the
end, Bremer is spared the headmen's axe, as Gingrich points out that:
"Whatever mistakes Bremer made were not corrected by his bosses, who were
Rumsfeld, Powell, Cheney, and the president."
his piercing words for the Bush administration that he openly supports,
Gingrich is positioning himself for something other than main stream media
"atta boys" and hate mail from neocons and conservatives.
official Newt Gingrich web site,
the "what's new" section of the page says "Newt Gingrich open to presidential
run", which is where the above quotes used in this commentary come from.
So, while neither confirming nor denying his intentions regarding the White
House, Gingrich, like he did in his years in the leadership, soaks up the
attention and gauges the political landscape.
Gingrich conquer Washington again? I don't think he could, nor do I
think he will try. While I like Gingrich politically, as I'm sure many
others do, I believe that Newt's strengths have always been as an inside
player and strategist. Again, his "Contract with America" attests to
his policy dynamism.
And while I
do not take issue with the Washington Times' characterization of
Gingrich as "the indispensable leader", for America was drowning in a sea of
liberalism in 1994, Gingrich will have problems appealing to independents,
Clinton-era Democrats, and more than a few among the GOP base, who saw
Gingrich as being a bit too arrogant during his time as House leader.
It is still
way too early to know what Gingrich will do. If the field in 2006
starts to shape up with the likes of Bill Frist, George Pataki, or Jeb Bush,
Gingrich may start a presidential exploratory committee to gauge conservative
But if the
choices are more like Rudy Giuliani or Condoleezza Rice, look for Gingrich to
continue as a shrewd voice on policy, while leaving his options open for
whatever the future holds. Whether it's the analyst chair on Fox News
or a chair signing autographs on a book tour, the chair of the Oval Office is
a good deal further away, and a great deal harder to fill.