So what I feel I have to do — and I know I should just stop it — is think about all sorts of things. For example, I contemplated various structures for tomorrow's first day of class in Federal Jurisdiction. Debussy was trying to tell me something about Spain, and I was thinking about something that happened "on a dark night" in Hughestown, Pennsylvania.
Inevitably, my thoughts drifted to Newt. Before going out on that dark night last night, I'd seen that he'd won the South Carolina primary. At intermission, I said to Meade: "I've come to terms with Newt." I didn't mean that I was prepared to vote for him. I still regard the idea of President Gingrich as bizarre. But I live in the moment. I embrace the now. It's fine the way things are. Newt has his role to play, and right now, I'm going to say it's a good one.
First, I especially adore the spectacular failure of The Attack of the Ex-Wife. ABC News somehow lured this uncomfortable little woman out of the shadows and into the spotlight. They interviewed her for God knows how long and extracted one seemingly lurid remark — her interpretation of what Newt said to her as a request for an "open marriage." The values-voters of The South were supposed to collapse in horror. He's unclean! But that's not the way they reacted. ABC didn't have that analyzed properly. I like this new culture of religious conservatism — if that's what it is — in which people who care about character don't recoil but reflect. They're not simpletons. They can get their mind around complexity. You can't just push their buttons. Or... at least... you can't push their buttons with big clumsy ABC fingers.
Second, it's good that the Tea Party and other sorts of conservative factions contribute to the political mix in America. Newt — along with Santorum — has established that the Establishment can't dictate who the candidate will be. Whoever ultimately becomes the candidate — and I assume it will be Mitt — he won't achieve his place through the nods of insiders bypassing the people who have imperatives of their own. It's strange that Gingrich embodies their wants, but that's the way this strange campaign has evolved, which leads me to....
Third, Gingrich has achieved his position through the sheer force of putting ideas into words, words that people heard. There's something quite beautiful about that, quite American. And it's beautiful without the man being beautiful. Back in 2008, many of us fell for Barack Obama, who — as Joe Biden put it so memorably was "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy... that's a storybook, man." Today, we question how articulate Obama really is and, with the distance of time, it's easy to see that the whole "storybook" gave us the impression that the speech was wonderful. That was an impressive effect in its time. But with Newt, there's no storybook. There's no newness, only Newtness, which isn't nice-looking or even clean. It's just words. Words! That's a
... but we're not. We're hearing the words, the speech, the ideas. I hear democracy maturing! Over The Newt! I think that's pretty cool.
There, now. There must be more that's going on. I'm still absorbing the Newtessence of it all. But that's all I'm going to say at the moment.
I read this out loud to proofread, and Meade said: "That's good. Just don't become a Newtist. In a Newtist colony."