Hillary Clinton clearly has an agenda to advance. Call it Bill. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has one too. Call it sleep. If one or the other enters the race for 2016, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), without missing a beat, should likewise step forward.
He has something the others lack: the ability to debate with fire and driven purpose. It may be the only cure for the torpor of a vast and great nation on the verge of sleep.
In the middle of the primary season last, on September 9, 2011, The Wall Street Journal's legendary editor Dorothy Rabinowitz made the case for Gingrich in a piece titled "Why Gingrich Could Win." Overnight, Gingrich rushed to the front of conservative imagination and it suddenly began to make sense. In a Hillary vs. Jeb race, it will suddenly make sense again.
"'Substance' is too cold a word, perhaps, for the intense feeling that candidate Gingrich delivers so coolly in debates," she wrote. "Too cold too, no doubt, to describe the reactions of his listeners, visible on the faces of the crowds attending these forums [the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum] — in their expressions, caught on C-SPAN's cameras, in the speed with which their desultory politeness disappears once a Gingrich talk begins. Their disengagement — the tendency to look around the room, chat with their neighbors — vanishes. The room is on high alert."
"The Gingrich effect showed dramatically," wrote Rabinowitz. "No one else's remarks would ignite the huge response his talk did."
"The Gingrich list was interrupted by thunderous applause at every turn," she said.
Possibly we could say about today that the space journey has returned and we face instead an earthbound era featuring primal and visceral archetypes and gods like Khaleesi and Khal Drogo, earth mother and her consort, rising to a new millennium. We see no such powerful and original spirits among ourselves today, but Russian President Vladimir Putin begins to suggest the barbarian king Khal Drogo. Putin is "arguably the most effective leader in the world today," says Gingrich. But Gingrich might be seen as a man like Putin as well, under circumstances; the antidote to Putin and the prototype for new leadership.
Said here in January, before Crimea, "Danger lies ahead and we hear one Oxford scholar recently calling for an American Bismarck to lead us. Bismarck comes when it is already too late. We do not need a Bismarck and it is not yet too late. But if we did, we could call on Newt Gingrich."
Hillary and her generation are from a past century, a past millenium, a past age of modest proposals, animated conversation, random thoughts and policies. So are the Bushes. Each pales dramatically now since Crimea.
And America is unprepared. Our world began again on 9/11 and most still seem unaware of it. This collective denial marked the turning-up to 1913 as well. Then it flipped overnight on 1914 when Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo — a dark corner like Sevastopol on our minds again — and everything changed forever.
But 1914 was prelude to the end of a thousand years of history. 2014 is prelude to the beginning and possibly only Gingrich sees it.
Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at email@example.com.