I’d like to feel sorry for people on Newt Gingrich’s e-mail list, but I really can’t.
A lot of these e-mail messages are deeply wonkish, written in single-sentence paragraphs without punctuation or capital letters. It’s almost as if you can see Gingrich twittering away at a Starbucks while doing calculations on a wrinkled napkin. On Thanksgiving Day, for instance, in an e-mail message one recipient shared with me, Gingrich fired off a riff on an idea by Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman from Texas, who had suggested that, instead of a stimulus bill, the party propose a payroll-tax holiday. “FICA and personal income tax combined are about $160 billion a month (you might want to check my math),” Gingrich wrote to a group of Congressional allies. “So if Pelosi proposes a $700 billion stimulus spending package in January, we could propose a 4-month tax holiday as the alternative.” In a separate e-mail message to his own aides, he wrote: “Think of no personal or corporate income tax and no fica tax for a year as a stimulus package. Am I nuts in rome or is the contrast startling.”
You could add the clause “like a crazy person” to the end of every sentence in that paragraph, to say nothing about the rest of the article. That said, I can’t object to the idea that Newt Gingrich has refurbished himself as the new intellectual genius of the Republican party. With a second baby due at any moment in my household, I’ll happily seize upon any reason to sleep peacefully for the next few years. I’d be especially pleased if Gingrich will agree to keep endorsing such winning notions as, say, John McCain suspending his campaign to single-handedly address economic issues he openly claimed not to understand. Comparing McCain’s defeat-ensuring move to Eisenhower’s October 1952 declaration that he would “go to Korea” was a magical moment.