If Hillary, then Newt

Students of “The Walking Dead” will understand the Bible-thumping Hershel’s dictum that plagues (he means zombies, which always suggest something else) come when nature (he means God) needs to correct itself.

Seven years of too bountiful a crop will always be followed by locusts or dust storms, and for every Michael Bloomberg there will be a Bill de Blasio. It goes the other way as well: When Clintons overreach and the Hillary experience becomes simply an extension of Bill’s cult of personality, there will be a Newt, because Newt Gingrich is now and always has been the equal and opposite counterforce to the Bill Clinton political culture.

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We are today plagued by novelty (New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie) and nostalgia (former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush). Gingrich is neither. He is always on the defensive. He never yields ground, in any circumstance, like at the chapel of Amherst College in December where he fired up the young'uns. And if Clinton runs for president in 2016 — her agents and minions were all over town last week — nature will call forth Newt because they are equal and opposite counterforces. And whether or not Gingrich wins the presidency, and in this match he will, he will bring fire to the discussion and win the day. Because Gingrich — and I am not particularly a fan — speaks to the future, while Clinton, like Bush and the endless, monarchical Kennedys, speak to the past, which is left behind now to a previous millennium.

Like Yoko and Madame Mao, Clinton is a personality extender for a generation no longer awakened in the world but not yet asleep. There for those who can’t let go. They bring merely sadness and impatience.

It has already likely been swept away, but history should first recall President Obama for his exceptional moment. He was the un-Hillary in 2008. When Bill’s media hordes with the little “I miss Bill” bumper stickers swept the airwaves with the totalitarian chant of inevitable destiny, a quick look around found an attractive and dynamic young Chicago lawyer who much too young for the job, fully unprepared, himself not even taking it seriously at first, but who had a trickster instinct to take it forward. Obama saved America from its most corrupt and decadent political family dominating the Democratic Party and prevented the war-happy nostalgico Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) from gaining the White House. It wasn’t the best job, but the Obama family in an American sense was one of us: un-neurotic, un-needy, un-cloying, cut from our own American cloth and nature, normal. They saved the moment.

But the time of the turning is here. Danger lies ahead and we hear one Oxford scholar recently calling for an American Bismarck to lead us. We have seen this week the best among us, former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, rise again into the public sector, and nothing could be more auspicious. 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 would call on Newt Gingrich.