Gingrich: A question of temperament

Gingrich was a model of restraint and self-discipline during the Iowa debate, but many question whether he is mentally fit for the role of president.

“Is Newt Gingrich nuts?” said Jacob Weisberg in Slate​.com. In the rough-and-tumble world of U.S. politics, accusing one’s opponents of having “crazy” ideas is a common practice. But in the case of Gingrich, now the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination, many prominent Republicans are openly questioning whether he’s mentally fit to be the leader of the free world. Throughout his career in public life, Gingrich has displayed an alarming “grandiosity and megalomania,” describing himself as a “definer of civilization” and a “transformational figure” who helped defeat communism and is fated to play a critical role in history, like Churchill. The Republican establishment is in “full, unconcealed panic” at Gingrich’s sudden ascent in the polls, said Andrew Sullivan in, describing him as narcissistic, dangerous, and “not stable.” TV talk-show host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman who served under Gingrich in the House, said he’s “a terrible person” who alienated most of his colleagues and would do the same to independent voters—thus ensuring Barack Obama’s re-election.

Gingrich may have changed, said Paul Gigot in Those advising him during the current, near-miraculous political comeback “say he’s mellowed with age and since his conversion to Catholicism and that he has a new calm about him.” In last weekend’s Iowa debate, certainly, the candidate who took the stage was a model of restraint and self-discipline, enduring attacks from all sides with good humor and maturity. If this new “Cool Hand Newt” remains on display, conservatives may well make him their nominee. What really troubles the “Beltway Republican establishment,” said Christian Whiton in, is not Newt’s supposed lack of stability, but his independence. As president, Gingrich would turn Washington upside down. Hence the current effort to smear him as a madman.

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