The Common Good
March 2007

He's Back!

by Ed Spivey Jr. | March 2007

Which sounds better, President Newt or President Mitt?

In the past year, while you were avoiding public service by selfishly living from paycheck to paycheck, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has repeatedly appeared on major news shows pledging to move our nation forward with brand new ideas, such as electing him president, though he strongly denies he's running. (Coincidentally, neither am I, since I'm spending my time living paycheck to paycheck.) This is the same guy who, because of numerous ethics violations while in office, used to be called the disgraced former speaker. Apparently, he's been waiting for the right political moment, quietly biding his time, like one of those crocodiles whose alert eyes are visible above murky waters, while the rest of his large reptilian body lies just beneath the surface. I'm not saying he personally has a large reptilian body, at least not like, depending on your angle of view, Dennis Hastert. But I would not rule out the possibility that Gingrich could leap out of a pond and grab you by the leg. He's just so enthusiastic about his new ideas.

For one, Gingrich feels strongly that the U.S. is no longer a world leader because we've lost our global competitive edge. But then, he's probably never checked out youtube.com, the greatest example of productivity in American history. I'd like to see the Chinese come up with "Cute Puppy Falling Asleep," a video that I have personally watched more than a dozen times, never failing to get a lump in my throat for living in a country where a man can take a short six-hour break in the middle of the work day and watch "Hands Farting the Star Spangled Banner" or "Squirrel Playing Guitar." Clearly, these are labors of love from Americans who know a thing or two about creativity, especially the kind that's always grainy and poorly lit.

GINGRICH ALSO WANTS to bring back fiduciary responsibility, by having a pay-as-you-go federal budget approach "just like the American people, who have to balance their budgets every month." Not to disagree, but Americans haven't balanced their budgets since credit cards were first mailed out in the 1960s. (My parents didn't know what to do with theirs, so I cut them up into guitar picks. Here's an idea: If more Americans used their credit cards to play music maybe we wouldn't have the lowest savings rate in the world.)

Other politicians have big ideas, too, though mainly just the one about being president. There's a growing list of Republican hopefuls that Gingrich—who is thinking of running on the Know-It-All platform—will have to contend with:

• Rudy Giuliani is the current front-runner for the Republican nomination, now that John McCain has flown too close to the sun and the popularity of his pro-war stance has begun to melt like Icarus, which is either a figure in ancient mythology or the latest General Motors line of unsellable cars. Now all that's left for Giuliani, who is pro-choice, pro-gay, and pro-gun control, is to prove he's actually a Republican.

• Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback is running on a Traditional American Values platform, also known as "Let's Go Back to the '50s," a magic time when men were men, and other people—like women, minorities, the poor—were not.

• And finally, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is running on the "For and Against" gay marriage platform, since he can't seem to make up his mind. If elected, he would be our first Mormon president. Come to think of it, he'd also be our first president named "Mitt," which unfortunately does not have quite the gravitas of, say, a "Newt."

Ed Spivey Jr. is art director of Sojourners.

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