Peggy Noonan writes as favorable an assessment of the Newt candidacy as a reasonable person could. She doesn’t make much of his personal failings or, as Mr. Ceaser puts it, the way he’s made his living over the last decade. It’s just that people who know him and have worked with him think he’s too unstable and self-obsessive to be president. His life is a walk on the wild side, and there are plenty in the know who know too much about him to trust or respect them. That’s not the case with the people who know Romney.

Meanwhile, ordinary people who don’t know him are looking for a brilliant and inspired fighter, and they remember with selective nostalgia what we’re undeniably Newt’s glory days. In my view, the most reasonable case for Newt is that reasonable policy could emerge when he and Bill Clinton sat down together, maybe becuase of their shared intelligence, flexible principles, and personal amorality. But Newt played Speaker in those days, not President. His personal compass doesn’t even work as well as Bill’s, and Peggy is right that he might impose his Churchillian sense of self-importance on the world in needlessly grandiose and otherwise dangerous ways. Bill, the critics say, made his administration into a vacation from history, but better a vacation than playing world-historical just to make your mark.

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Articles by Peter Lawler

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