The Versatile Newt Gingrich

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In the new issue of TIME, David Von Drehle writes about the current state of the Republican race, collecting wisdom from Jeb Bush, among others, and capturing the oddities of the two-man top-tier that’s emerged in Florida. It’s a fun and smart piece, especially so in describing Mitt Romney’s unlikely foil:

The Gingrich campaign has been a nonstop, three-dimensional, multimedia “If by whiskey” speech. If when you say Washington insider you mean the bad guys who are ruining the country, he’s against them, but if you mean former Speakers of the House who make millions on K Street, live in McLean, Va., and spend lavishly at Tiffany, then he is one. If by the media you mean the folks Gingrich joshes freely with during late-night sessions in hotel bars, he’s a big fan, but if you mean the people who ask unwelcome questions with millions of people watching, he’s definitely opposed.

If by Saul Alinsky you mean the late Chicago community organizer who influenced Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Gingrich promises to save us from his schemes. But if you mean the man who wrote that political-change agents “must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community and fan the latent hostilities,” then you are speaking of Gingrich’s tactical twin. If by Freddie Mac you mean the cause of the financial collapse, he’s on the case, but if you mean his $25,000-per-month client, he’s a big fan. If by France you mean that sickly country where socialism runs rampant, God forbid we catch that infection, but if by France you mean a culture where a man’s wife and his mistress can sit down for a nice cup of coffee together, hey, maybe they’re onto something.

In the same issue, Weekly Standard senior editor Andrew Ferguson describes the many stylistic sides of Gingrich:

Often the grandiosity has an alchemical effect, and when it does, a new Newt will appear–menacingly. Cocky Newt in December gave way briefly to Aimless Newt as his poll numbers fell, leading to brief flashes of Resentful Newt. Inevitably, Angry Newt emerged when John King, the moderator of the CNN debate on Jan. 19, asked about one of the early Gingrich marriages. “To take an ex-wife,” he replied, now famously, “and make it [sic; her name is Marianne] two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.”

Both pieces are well worth the click, and you can read them in full at the newsstand, on the iPad or in the all-access section of Time.com.

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