The New Newt

Well, the tortoise analogy I’ve been using regarding Newt Gingrich seems to be coming true. One thing that hadn’t changed over these many weeks was Romney being solidly ahead in New Hampshire. He has consistently had double-digit leads over the next closest contender. No more. Gingrich is now just two points behind Romney there.

Now that Gingrich is surging, he is getting the same tough vetting that the rest of the crowd has gotten. Not the least of which is that his consulting firm collected $1.5 million in fees from the government-backed mortgage agency Freddie Mac in 1999. I heard Newt say yesterday that they did not take his advice. Only in our government would they pay over a million dollars for expert advice, and then ignore it. We will, of course, hear endlessly about his divorces, and the left will continue to spread the lie that he asked his cancer stricken (she didn’t have cancer) wife for a divorce (he didn’t) while she was in the hospital, even after his daughter has set the record straight.

So, since all of you will soon be reading every piece of dirt the left can dig up on Newt, and all the things many conservatives hate about Newt, I thought I might remind you of all the really great things about Newt. Let’s just go for the positive for the moment. The first is music to my ears. Newt has presented a seven-point plan to balance the budget, including turning welfare programs into block grants to the states, increasing domestic energy production, rooting out fraud in Medicare and other federal programs and replacing or overhauling the Congressional Budget Office. The thing about Newt, you know he isn’t just talking.

Newt has Washington experience (He was Speaker of the House), but for the last 11 years he has worked in the private sector, so it’s good that he understands that. He’s made plenty of mistakes though, even while in Congress. But let’s remember the good past. Gingrich was a major influence in drafting the Contract with America in 1994. This contract insisted on major policy changes in tax cuts, tort reform, social security reform, welfare reform and term limits. All the answers to the problems that we are being overwhelmed with now if they could have ever been fully enacted. The Contract with America is credited for the 1994 Republican sweep in which the majority in both houses of Congress went to the Republicans. As much as many Democrats like to point out the prosperity of the 90’s happened while Clinton was President, it was the Republican Congress and Newt that did the hard work to make it happen. That is not to say that the Republicans did everything right. They did not. They did not turn us to the responsible future they promised. The idea of spending other people’s money is just too tempting, and sadly, even the GOP falls for it. That is what we are trying to change now.

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But, back to Newt. Newt’s biggest advantage is not only being the smartest man in the room, but being able to articulate that well. He has actual solutions. That is something that Americans are longing for.

But, there is something interesting here that has happened to Newt. Newt found God. That is hardly discussed in all this. When I found out that Newt Gingrich had converted to Catholicism, I was extremely skeptical. But I will say that the Newt I saw at the debate here in Texas recently was very different from the Newt I had observed in the 90’s. His whole demeanor was different. He was calmer, and, to be frank, kinder. I found this article from a good friend of Newt’s that has known him all his adult life, and it confirmed what I suspected. Newt’s conversion was real. And if you are a person of faith, you know how that can change you. In many instances, it changes the person so completely, it’s as if it’s a new person. Well, I’ll let the friend, Matt Towery, explain:

The Newt I used to know hardly resembles the man I know now.

Then he was extremely ambitious (I thought he was crazy when he told me in 1980 that he would someday be speaker of the House) and let virtually nothing stand in his way.

He was so trigger-happy that he fired without thinking, rarely worrying about the collateral damage he left behind. He could engage in really heated arguments, and the way most of us survived was to fight right back.

He was also secretive. Even with those he basically loved and who loved him, he could never truly drop his guard.
I can’t tell you how many then-young members of Congress on the GOP side would pull me aside and ask me what Newt really thought of them. I had a standard answer: “He doesn’t think of you. Just keep on doing your best, and don’t pay too much attention when he gets mad.”

Towery goes on to say that if you really knew the story of Newt’s divorces, you would be more sympathetic. Like what so many Americans know, divorce is painful and the fault usually lies with both people.

Then Towery gives us a view of the “new Newt.” And it was what I imagined. A changed heart changes who we are. Newt would be the first to tell you that he wasn’t the best of men, but time, wisdom, and faith has given us a more humble man. And wouldn’t that be a change we could use in the White House? I get links and articles from conservatives all the time about the things Newt said and did when he was Speaker that they dislike. I think now I can tell them that that person is not the person who is running for President today.

As Towery says:

By the early 2000s, Newt was not the best of company. But it was then that he began to change. He converted to the Catholic Church, and for the first time was passionate about God and his spiritual life.

His marriage to Callista brought him peace and a settled lifestyle that I had never seen in the many decades I had known him.
Then came the grandchildren. Newt became an integral part of their lives, perhaps more so than in that of his girls when they were growing up. His eyes light up around them, and he never hesitates to let them be a part of whatever he is doing.

The new Newt rarely loses his temper, suffers fools easily and cares about the more human and personal side of his longtime friends. He is genuinely kind.

I’m sure the skeptical among us will scoff at this, but I have seen the transformation of people in faith, and it is astonishing sometimes. I don’t know Newt personally, so I was very interested to read this by someone who does.

I know it may seem that I am now coming out for Newt for the nomination, but I’m really not. I just find his life and his rising in the polls interesting.

Next week I am going to write a piece about Romney and his faith. Because, my dear conservative friends, as much as we might wish it were different with our own favorite guys or girls, this nomination will be between Romney and Newt. I love our Gov. Perry. He is a good sincere man, but I don’t see him surging back. Herman Cain has been too damaged. So, here we are with Romney and Gingrich. And you know what? I think both are pretty good choices.

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