Newt Gingrich was feeling particularly good a couple days ago, delivering a quote that seems perfect to publicize on a Saturday afternoon. In Barrington, Ill., this week, a reporter asked the former Speaker of the House to defend the assertion he made in a debate that he is “cheerful.” Here’s what Gingrich had to say:
“I love life. I love getting up in the morning. I love seeing what the weather is going to be. I love animals. I love the process of interacting with people. I like learning. So I really am basically cheerful everyday because in my mind everyday is cool; I am still here.”
Pretty neat, huh? After all the mistakes he’s made, the stressful life he’s lived, the political career he’s had, he’s able to say this. Perhaps it’s this kind of positivity that explains why he was able to stage two comebacks in this election cycle and why he persists when no path to victory is apparent.
The whole political game often gets me down. Victories always seem outnumbered by defeats, chivalrous moments always seem outnumbered by scandals, eloquent statements always seem outnumbered by gaffes. But what someone with Newt Gingrich’s life experience knows to an extent that no young gun can fully grasp is this: Life goes on — and some things are actually bigger than politics. The sun will still shine, the rain and snow will still fall, the wind will still blow. Animals will still be animals, blissfully unaware — and there will always be something new to learn.
In the end, what drives me nuts about Newt Gingrich is also what I like best about him: He just seems so human, fabulously flawed, inexhaustibly searching, openly vulnerable. While I’d rather have as president someone who has more closely hewn to the straight and narrow in both his politics and his personal life, I’m ultimately glad Newt Gingrich has been in the race. Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum remind me that it’s possible to live privately what you espouse publicly and inspire me to strive to match their examples of personal integrity. Gingrich reminds me that life is for all of us, both those who’ve got it together and those who don’t. When I think about it that way, I love life, too.