What’s your function? Amity Shlaes:
What happened? Not long ago, everyone was sure that Gingrich’s geekiness and personal baggage were fatal. That was how Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, the only candidate who could compete with Gingrich on the budget details, went down. Daniels withdrew after it became clear that a) he was probably too wonkish and b) he was deemed to have “baggage” because his wife had once left him, even though she came back. (Daniels officially cited family reasons for declining to run.)
Who thought Newt Gingrich was “geeky”? I sure as hell didn’t. Everyone did think his personal baggage was going to be a fatal liability. They also thought he was a sleazy corrupt jackass (Tiffany’s, anyone?). I guess that’s also technically baggage. Add that to his multiple acts of infidelity that don’t sit well with people. You could also cite the history professor’s substantively barren histrionics. But geeky? How so?
Daniels withdrew because it was clear he was too wonkish? Who said that? Who has/had a problem with that? Shlaes even writes that Daniels’ official reason was because of his baggage alone. Why is he lying, Amity? Here’s what George Will had to say about Daniels after CPAC last year:
Big changes, Daniels knows, will require a broad majority, perhaps one assembled after 2012 by someone with his blend of accomplishments, aversion to pandering and low-key charisma of competence.
Shlaes really does her fellow conservatives a huge disservice to suggest that the majority didn’t want to vote for a “geek” and potential geek candidates knew it and decided not to take the plunge.
The title of this column is “Gingrich Bounce Shows Geek Love Can Still Blossom.” The problem is that this thesis isn’t really well-supported by the facts, which is evident because Mrs. Shlaes, who I admire as a historian, has to take a revisionist approach to the historical determinism that led to this moment of apparent pundit repudiation in favor of wonkish intellect.
I guess it’s hard to write a column that says “Newt sounds intelligent and by process of elimination remains the last viable alternative to a Romney nomination so people are jumping on his train.”