The Man of Ideas

By Harry Shearer

As far back as the time when he was selling videotapes of his lectures at a relatively obscure college, Newt Gingrich has marketed himself as a man of ideas.  You could do a credible impression of the man (at least I did) just by dropping the names "Deming and Drucker" into every other sentence, and the words "American civilization" into every other paragraph. 


And now, back out of power and back into the media, Speaker Gingrich (as likes to be called) is again marketing himself as a man of ideas.  "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" sprang from Gingrich's fertile idea farm last summer, and spread to the McCain campaign.  "Twelve American Solutions for Jobs and Prosperity" is a new campaign we'll surely hear more about.  

Yet, in the past three weeks, the man of ideas has launched stunningly vituperative campaigns against two women: Nancy Pelosi and Sonia Sotomayor.  One would expect the ex-speaker to disagree with these people, but the ideas he's been propagating have been, in the cast of Pelosi, the ideas that she's "disgusting" and "trivial", and, in the case of Sotomayor, that she's a "racist".  He demanded that Pelosi resign and that Sotomayor withdraw her nomination.

Apparently, when you're running a non-campaign campaign for the leadership of the Republican party, those are what pass for Ideas.  What would Deming and Drucker think?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/06/the-man-of-ideas/18639/