At our sister site Townhall.com, Greg Hengler has curated a series of stand-out responses from newfound frontrunner Newt Gingrich at this weekend’s Thanksgiving Family Forum, a non-debate discussion that elicited refreshingly thoughtful and unexpectedly revealing answers from all the candidates in attendance (i.e. the field minus Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman).
Of Gingrich’s answers replayed in Hengler’s videos, this is my favorite, an elegant differentiation of the general ideas of the Enlightenment and the specific (and damaging) ideas of the French Revolution:
To that topic, Newt also spoke eloquently when moderator Frank Luntz asked the candidates to expound on their greatest failures:
Gingrich clearly and keenly grasps that the presidency is a repository of resplendent power and authority, but not the source of it. At the very least, the source is “the people,” those who give their consent to be governed. At the very most, the source is Thomas Aquinas’ First Cause. That helps Gingrich to understand that anyone who seeks the power of the presidency for himself in some way disqualifies himself from possessing it. So, he seeks to just be a vessel for it.
All of this should be reassuring to anyone who wonders why the GOP field is “so weak.” It’s weak because it’s made up of imperfect and flawed human beings. Our only choices are human: What we seek in a president, then, is not a savior, but a servant. Humility has to be among our criteria — and that, at least, many of our candidates — Gingrich among them — seem to possess.