Ten Miles Square


January 20, 2012 12:00 PM Ain’t Life Grandiose?

By Jamie Malanowski

Life with Newt Gingrich is, anyway. Mitt Romney‘s campaign staff has put together this compendium of Newt’s greatest moments of self-regard for the pleasure of one and all. I suppose a few of these observations may be taken out of context, but I’ll bet it’s not many. My only complaint is that Romney had his minions slip this info out in a press release, hoping people like myself will perform the character assassination silently, sparing Mitt getting his mitts dirty. He would have done himself a world of good had he spoken up at some point last night and said “Newt, you’re a fatuous ass.” Here is the press release:

A Selection Of Speaker Gingrich’s Thoughts Over The Years

Gingrich on Gingrich:

“I Think I Am A Transformational Figure.” (PBS.org, 12/2/11)

“I Am Essentially A Revolutionary.” (The New York Times, 8/23/92)

“Philosophically, I Am Very Different From Normal Politicians … We Have Big Ideas.” (NYT, 6/29/11)

“I Have An Enormous Personal Ambition. I Want To Shift The Entire Planet. And I’m Doing It. … I Represent Real Power.” (Washington Post, 1/3/85)

“I First Talked About [Saving Civilization] In August Of 1958.” (GQ, 8/05)

“Over My Years In Public Life, I Have Become Known As An ‘Ideas Man.’” (NYT, 6/29/11)

“I Am The Longest Serving Teacher In The Senior Military, 23 Years Teaching One And Two-Star Generals And Admirals The Art Of War.” (GOP Presidential Candidates Debate, 12/15/11)

Speaker Gingrich Has Compared Himself to a Litany of Historical Leaders:
Ronald Reagan And Margaret Thatcher: “Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.’” (CNN.com, 11/16/11)
Abraham Lincoln: “I begin as Lincoln did.’’ (Washington Post, 12/1/11)
Woodrow Wilson: “I am the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.’” (Washington Post, 11/22/11)
Henry Clay: “I was not a presider, I was the leader. I think Henry Clay’s probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously.” (USA Today, 8/30/99)
Charles de Gaulle: “First of all, in the Toynbeean sense, I believe in departure and return… .I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux.”
Thomas Edison: “Once he took over GOPAC in 1986, the organization became what he called the creative thinking and research group of the Republican Party. ‘We are on the way to becoming the Bell Labs of politics,’ Mr. Gingrich proclaimed. ‘That’s the closest model you can find to what we do, and nobody else is in that business. The first thing you need at Bell Labs is a Thomas Edison, and the second thing you need is a real understanding of how you go from scientific theory to a marketable product.’” (NYT, 12/3/95)
Vince Lombardi: “What the Republicans had accomplished, Gingrich said, was like the old Green Bay Packers sweep during the days of Coach Vince Lombardi: The opposition knows you are going to run at them, but they cannot stop you.” (Washington Post, 8/13/95)
The Wright Brothers: “At that dinner… Gingrich sought to add more emotional lift into his stump speech. ‘I am asking you to embark with me on a voyage of invention and discovery, to be as bold and as brave as the Wright brothers.’” (Washington Post, 12/1/11)
Moses: “At one point, he likened himself, lightheartedly, to Moses. He’d help them cross the Red Sea once again, Gingrich vowed, but only if they promised, this time, to stay on the other side.” (NYT Magazine, 2/25/09)

By the way, I like this sort of stuff, although in moderation. And I far prefer a politician who can drop in an apt historical or literary reference to a brick like George W. Bush.)

[Cross-posted at JamieMalanowski.com]

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Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.


  • Daniel Buck on January 23, 2012 9:59 AM:

    Newt Gingrich likened himself to Ronald Reagan? Really? He had a different tune when Reagan was actually president:

    1/ Gingrich compares Ronald Reagan to Neville Chamberlain: ''the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich,'' said Gingrich in 1985 of the just announced Reagan-Gorbachev summit. From: Tear Down this Myth (2009), William Bunch.

    2/ Gingrich declares Reagan a failed FDR, or something: 11 February 1983, Atlanta Constitution: "Reagan is like an FDR who hired Al Smith's advisers." A nonsensical remark, with the usual scattershot historical references, but certainly not a compliment.

    3/ Gingrich declares Reaganomics a "failure": Early 1980s College Park, GA, news conference: "'Really, Reaganomics has failed,' he said Friday, 'We must regroup. The national government is running amuck'" The quote comes from a Georgia newspaper story, "'Reaganomics a Failure,'" by Katherine Gibney, in perhaps the Clayton County Sun.

    4/ Gingrich declares Reagan's anti-Soviet policies a "failure": 21 March 1986, Congressional Record, HR1564-7: "Measured against the scale and momentum of the Soviet empire's challenge, the Reagan administration has failed, is failing, and without a dramatic, fundamental change in strategy will continue to fail . . . . President Reagan is clearly failing . . . . The burden of this failure frankly must be placed first upon President Reagan; he is the President . . . ." [CR page numbers are from the paper, daily Congressional Record.]

    5/ Disappointment: 1 March 1987, Atlanta Constitution, "'The sense of our overpowering belief in Reagan as the most effective president since FDR is probably not reattainable,' said Rep. New Gingrich (R-Ga.), another longtime Reagan admirer."

    6/ Gingrich declares Reagan responsible for national "decay": 3 November 1983, HR H196, Congressional Record, "Beyond the obvious indicators of decay, the fact is that President Reagan has lost control of the national agenda."

    7/ In the same week, Gingrich criticizes Reagan for not increasing and for not cutting defense spending: 11 Sept 1981, H6149, Congressional Record, re increasing defense spending: "But on balance, the Reagan administration has not done the job it needs to." Inexplicably, three days later (14 September, H6161, CR) Gingrich attacked Reagan and Weinberger for their failure "to cut defense spending decisively."


  • Daniel Buck on January 23, 2012 10:01 AM:

    Speaking of comparisons, earlier this week Gingrich likened himself to Willie Stark, which no one save Trip Gabriel picked up on. From Trip Gabriel's "Disdainful of Strategists, Gingrich Acts as His Own" (New York Times, 20 January 2012):
    Celebrated among close friends for his ability to recount movies in epic detail, Mr. Gingrich regaled a group on the flight with a scene from the 1949 classic “All the King’s Men.” It is the story of a self-made country lawyer, played by Broderick Crawford, who defies the corrupt men in “striped pants” to run as a populist for governor. “Now listen to me, you hicks,” he shouts in a speech. “They fooled you 1,000 times just like they fooled me. But this time I’m going to fool somebody. I’m going to stay in this race.”

    As most even quasi-literate Americans well know, Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men was inspired by the life of Huey Long and is the tale of a populist politician, Willie Stark, who becomes as corrupt and tyrannical as the men he ousted.

    Warren once wrote that Stark represented "the doom that democracy may invite upon itself." Has Gingrich ever read the novel?

    Gingrich's likening himself to Stark reinforces the idea that his is the politics of resentment, against the elites (of which he is a member, when it's convenient), the media, Wall Street, the Republican establishment, liberals, Democrats, and, let's not forget, blacks. In fact, just about everyone.

    None of this is terribly new. We can see it in his 1978 speech to the College Republicans, at the caliginous dawn of his career, when he slanders the entire Republican pantheon. Or during the Reagan presidency, when he called Reagan a failure and Reganomics a failure and once even compared Reagan to Neville Chamberlain.

    Gingrich's 2012 campaign is a pitchfork crusade. Whether it's the invited doom, we shall see.


    PS Idea for bumper sticker. "Newt Gingrich: the doom that democracy may invite upon itself."

  • Jamila Haven on February 17, 2012 4:43 PM:

    Mr Buck,

    Can you please let me know where and which page the 2nd Gingrich quote was acquired. I have looked through the Feb. 11 1983 Atlanta Constitution and I didn't see it. The half page article of Newt Gingrich on 2A doesn't mention this quote either.

    Thank you