Republican New York Rep. Peter King—who served under Speaker Gingrich—told a reporter last week, “[Gingrich has] a superiority complex—and I don’t think he had that much to be superior about.”

In brainstorming notes unearthed in the 1997 House Ethics investigation of Gingrich, he had scribbled: “Gingrich—primary mission: advocate of civilization, definer of civilization, teacher of the rules of civilization, arouser of those who fan civilization, organizer of the pro-civilization activists, leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces.”

David Boaz, a vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute—a hotbed of anti-Gingrich sentiment—told me, “My main concern is you don’t want this guy’s finger on the button. He is a megalomaniac and volatile.”