Videos: Newt's latest greatest hits

At our sister site, 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:

I knew it was about to be a brilliant answer as soon as Gingrich mentioned Arthur Brooks, whose book The Battle profoundly confirms capitalism and conservatism as the optimal means to human flourishing. But when he addressed Ron Paul by his first name and proceeded to say, “I don’t think liberty means ‘libertine,'” I sat up a little straighter in my seat. This answer is full of the fruit of Gingrich’s meticulous study of history — but also of his personal conversion.

To that topic, Newt also spoke eloquently when moderator Frank Luntz asked the candidates to expound on their greatest failures:

“I had to recognize how limited I was and how much I had to depend on Him,” Gingrich said before he admitted that he would be uncomfortable with a president who didn’t believe in God. “If you said to me we were electing somebody who believed that they by themselves were strong enough to be president of the United States, I would tell you that person terrifies me because they completely misunderstand how weak and how limited any human being is.”

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.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023