Newt Gingrich

5 Myths About Newt Gingrich (Including Whether He's an Intellectual)

|

In the Wash Post, Reason contributor and Claremont McKenna political scientist John J. "Jack" Pitney writes up "5 Myths about Newt Gingrich."

Number 1 on the list? "Gingrich is an academic." Pitney's take:

He earned a PhD in history and taught college before winning a seat in Congress. He has often spoken of himself as a historian. In 1995, he told CNN's Bob Franken: "I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson."

But whereas Wilson spent years publishing scholarly works, Gingrich was more like the professor who wins popularity awards from undergraduates but doesn't get tenure because he doesn't publish anything significant. He even told a college newspaper in 1977 that "I made the decision two or three years ago that I'd rather run for Congress than publish the papers or academic books necessary to get promoted."

Since then, he has given countless lectures and written more than 20 books, but has never produced truly serious scholarship. A typical Gingrich work is full of aphorisms and historical references — and devoid of the hallmarks of academic research: rigor, nuance and consideration of alternative views. Conservative political scientist James Q. Wilson once assessed materials for a televised history course that Gingrich was teaching as a "mishmash of undefined terms .?.?. misleading claims .?.?. and unclear distinctions."

Yet Gingrich has been quick to cite his credentials as a source of authority. In a letter to Reagan budget director David Stockman, he once wrote: "From my perspective as a historian, you don't deal in the objective requirements of history." And recently, he suggested that mortgage giant Freddie Mac had paid him for his historical expertise, not his Capitol Hill connections.

"The most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson?" That sounds like a line from an episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker. Besides being inaccurate, it is genuinely unflattering in every possible way and given that Gingrich offered it up voluntarily as a self-description, it's pretty telling, too.

Pitney's other four entries give similarly critical but fair appraisals of such things as Gingrich's Reaganite bona fides (eh, not as much as the former Speaker likes to say now), whether he's a "hard-core conservative" (soft core is more like it), whether he was unique in his congressional partisanship back in the day(Tip O'Neill, the lovable scamp, called Reagan "evil"), and whether he's got the drive to push hard in an election (who knows, but Gingrich once asserted that he wanted to "shift the entire planet" which sounds more like Al Gore than Gore does.)

Whole thing here.

Read Reason's presidential-candidate profile of Gingrich if you've forgotten why you're not seriously considering voting for him.

Advertisement

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: Microsoft "Quietly" Comes Out Against Online Piracy Act, Sheriff Joe Throws Support Behind Rick Perry, Bloomberg Digs Into Secret Fed Loans to Wall Street

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. but he’s not a mormom

  2. not mormon, but clearly a pro-colonial crony-capitalist & tiffany tribalist.

      1. At least he’s writing in English for a change.

        1. Yeah, that’s the first legible, grammatically correct sentence fragment he’s ever written here.

  3. Hey, if Senior Lecturer Barack Obama can be a constitutional scholar, Gingrich can be a historian.

    I’m just thankful that it’s not hip to be pro-Gingrich, or Reason would be loving on this big government a-hole’s campaign as a desirable alternate to the current administration.

    1. No kidding. The worst they can comment on him is, “He hasn’t published much”?

    2. Sorry, I don’t think the Reason writers have any reason to believe Gingrich is significantly better than Obama. In fact, he’s marginally worse in quite a few areas Reason writers are passionate about.

  4. Seriously?!? Gingrich ties his image to Woodrow Wilson? The I fucked the U.S. up by supporting the KKK, Jim Crow, entangling alliances, necessary wars abroad and crony capitalism at home Woodrow Wilson?!?

    The Gingrich, The.

  5. “The most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson?”

    OK, what national political figure, since Wilson, has been more professorial?

    1. replace professorial with asshole, and think you’ve got a strong argument there.

      Carter was smarter than both though.

      1. And Daniel Patrick Moynihan was smarter than Carter.

    2. OK, what national political figure, since Wilson, has been more professorial?

      TOTUS?

    3. Dick Armey, University of North Texas Economics Dept. Chairman when he first ran for Congress.

    4. Al Gore was a professor of journalism at the Kennedy School.

  6. I’m just thankful that it’s not hip to be pro-Gingrich, or Reason would be loving on this big government a-hole’s campaign as a desirable alternate to the current administration.

    Gingriches pros are “he’s not Obama”.

    His cons however stretch out ad infinitem.

    Serial philanderer (no moral character, which really is not terrible except he’s unapologetic about it in the slightest)
    flip flopper on more issues than Romney
    war, war and more war
    general asshole (kind of like a better spoken rudy guiliani)
    immigration plan that smacks of political expediancy
    finally, did I mention he’s an asshole?

  7. The criticism is somewhat unfair.
    Besides the fact that he said he was the most “professorial since Woodrow Wildon” (who has been more so?), the criticism that he couldn’t get anything published as a conservative might say more about bias in the academic community than it does about Gingrich’s skills as an academic.

    1. Gingrich was more like the professor who wins popularity awards from undergraduates but doesn’t get tenure because he doesn’t publish anything significant.

      A professor that would rather interact with students than write crap that no one will ever read?

      Clearly he’s a heretic.

      Burn him.

    2. Well, except that he didn’t even try.

    3. I agree Hazel, he’s brilliant but not trustworthy.  He may have ghostwritten for Reagan – a good enough reason not to publish academically.

  8. But whereas Wilson spent years publishing scholarly works[…]

    All of them dreary and useless…

    […] Gingrich was more like the professor who wins popularity awards from undergraduates but doesn’t get tenure because he doesn’t publish anything significant.

    He gets my accolades at least for sparing the world of more dreary and useless scholarly works.

    1. I would have rather him spared the world his awful presence, but apparently he still won’t apologize for that!!

  9. A professor that would rather interact with students run for Congress so he can than write crap bills that no one will ever read before voting them into law?

  10. Whenever I see Gingrich, I am reminded of Col Hackworth’s retelling of some german military philosopher’s dictum about intellegence vs energy:

    People can be divided into groups of smart and stupid. They can also be divided into groups of energetic and lazy.

    Smart & Energetic people make good staff officers.

    Smart & Lazy people make good commanders (because they figure out the easy way to do things)

    Stupid & Lazy people are no problem, there are always jobs that need doing that are within their abilities (MWR officer, for example).

    Stupid & Energetic people are incredibly dangerous and need to be identified and removed from the organization as quickly as possible to limit the damage they cause.

    Gingrich is a stupid and energetic person.

    1. That would be Clausewitz.

      1. Seeckt, nicht wahr?

    2. Is Gingrich a genius? No, but neither is he stupid. Undisciplined, loose cannony, self-important, inconsistent – yes, definitely.

      The R establishment hates him, so he has that going for him. Plus he’s not Romney and he’s not Obama.

  11. That’s clearly the problem with this country. We don’t have enough professors in charge.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.