Newt Gingrich for Speaker of the House?

It is certainly an outside-the-box idea, but not a bad one

Newt Gingrich and Henry Kissinger
Newt Gingrich and Henry Kissinger, both former TIME Persons of the Year. (Photo: Ken Kurson for the Observer)

The provocative top headline on The Drudge Report this morning reads “DC Bombshell: Newt Gingrich back as Speaker of the House?” It links via YouTube to a clip from the Sean Hannity Show where Mr. Hannity asked Mr. Gingrich: “Maybe this is a time for Newt Gingrich to come back with a flurry of ideas and a new contract that would advance a conservative agenda that would help the country solve these horrible problems.”

First question might be asked, “They can do that?”

To which Sarah Palin might answer, Hell, yeah!

As Mr. Hannity explains, according to the Constitution, the speaker of the House does not need to be a member of the House.

“If you were to say to me 218 have called you up and given you their pledge, obviously no citizen could ever turn down that kind of challenge. This is why George Washington came out of retirement—because there are moments you can’t avoid.”

A variety of outsiders have been proposed for speaker of the House in recent years, from Colin Powell to Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. It is certainly an outside-the-box idea, but not a bad one. Mr. Gingrich was Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999 and the agent of the “Republican Revolution of 1994,” which brought an alternative to Democratic policies and united the diverse wings of the Republican Party with a Contract for America.

As new members of Congress today and in recent years threaten to shut down the government, they may be seen as paying homage to the master, who most effectively shut down the U.S. government in 1995-1996 over a budget impasse with President Bill Clinton.

In this regard, Mr. Gingrich might be seen as the original and organic oppositional agent of the cultural and political left which rose generationally with the Bill and Hillary Clinton “co-presidency,” as they liked to call it at the time. Quite obviously a condition still with us today. He brought new thinking to conservatism and pioneered new strategic approaches to government. He ran for president in 2011. The Newt 2012 campaign referred to him as “the last conservative standing.”

At the time of the presidential debates of 2011, the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz reported, “The former speaker has stood out at these forums, the debater whose audiences seem to hang on his words and on a flow of thought rich in substance, a world apart from the usual that the political season brings.”

As speaker today, Mr. Gingrich would bring a cohesive link between a rising force of conservatism and its new generation in Congress, and the Republican Congress of Mr. Gingrich’s day as today’s themes can be seen as starting with the Gingrich period and reaching an advancing stage with the best of the Tea Party movement within the last decade. The Tea Party descends today to rural howls, cries and whispers and anxious false starts as it lacks that cohesive link; it lacks tradition, it lacks true and effective leadership. Mr. Gingrich might be seen as the senior original statesman of that movement, the missing link to its destiny; the Gray Champion who stood in the middle of the road and proclaimed, “No more!”

And throughout, he has been behind the scenes on Tea Party issues of states rights and constitutional government. In former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s 2010 book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington he wrote in the foreword, “Faith, freedom, and free enterprise are the pillars of a strong, safe, prosperous society.” When these principles are protected, America succeeds and when they are undermined America fails, he writes.”

A second Gingrich speakership could breath new life into Tea Party issues, bringing them out of the abstract and into the mainstream of American consciousness. It could also link contentious elements today as it did in the 1990s. This could awaken a new phase in our collective American destiny, not only framing the upcoming presidential debates and race, but forming a new stage of political action. It could well be the catalyst for new generations and rising passions for the century, still awaiting its true beginnings.

As the former speaker said in reference to George Washington, there are historic moments you can’t avoid. This is clearly one of those moments.

Newt Gingrich for Speaker of the House?