Newt the unreliable

He can’t help himself. Gingrich prefers extravagant lambasting when a mere distancing would do, and the over-arching theoretical construct to a mundane pander. He is drawn irresistibly to operatic overstatement — sometimes brilliant, always interesting, and occasionally downright absurd.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. is reputed to have said FDR had a first-class temperament but a second-class intellect. Gingrich flips the Holmes formulation around: He has a first-class intellect but his temperament belongs in steerage. He’s like one of those many places where they say, “If you don’t like the weather around here, just wait five minutes.”…

It’s Newt’s misfortune to want a high-pressure executive job with monarchical trappings where steadfastness and dignity matter. When he was Speaker of the House, he alienated his colleagues (some of whom roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name) and dragged himself, his family, and his party through a psychodrama. If he were to replicate that performance in the White House, it’d be a formula for a LBJ- or Nixon-style meltdown.