To balance yesterday’s rather optimistic “On the Square” article The Potomac and the Tiber—I don’t myself see much reason to believe that Gingrich has been affected by Catholic social teaching—here is a different view of Gingrich’s character, Newt the Destroyer.
Thirteen years later [after Gingrich resigned as Speaker of the House rather than face angry Republican colleagues he'd managed to tick off yet again], it was tough for Newt-watchers to feel any sympathy, when he whined about the incoming attacks mounted by a Romney-supporting super-PAC. His bleating about negative campaigning was, given this historical perspective, farcical. His claim that Romney was a “liar” carried little heft—after all, Gingrich himself had recently displayed his penchant for prevarication, such as when he claimed he had been paid by Freddie Mac for performing duties as a “historian.”
But a presidential candidate scorned can be a dangerous thing. Gingrich has never had a self-esteem problem. His ego is supersized. And with his late-autumn jump in the polls, he, no doubt, was measuring himself for a crown. (Tiffany’s?) He all but declared his ascendancy was inevitable. Yet then that nasty super-PAC came along and…told the truth about Gingrich, in killer attack ads, behaving much as Gingrich had always counseled GOPers to act. In a 1978 address to College Republicans, before he was elected to the House, Gingrich declared, “I think one of the great problems we have in the Republican Party is that we don’t encourage you to be nasty.” Well, if his goal back then was to nastify the GOP, he can proudly proclaim, “Mission Accomplished.”
It’s from a lefty magazine, admittedly, but it’s at least as plausible as the idea of Gingrich as an exponent of Catholic social teaching. Here and here are Mother Jones‘ take on Santorum’s chances. They’re fairly fair, except for the stupid summary of Santorum’s views in the third to last paragraph of the second.
By the way, readers interested in Catholic social teaching (which you’ll sometimes see referred to as “CST”) will want to read The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, also available as a book. It’s a very good summary of the subject, though at times a little quick or abstract in its explanations, and readers pursuing the subject will want to read the major encyclicals as well, starting with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (here is a useful summary).