Gingrich soars off the charts on the former but can frequently stray from the latter and sometimes roam off at the worst moments.
That's one of the reasons he is always fun to listen to. He is not like the jukebox-style politician that we so often see, punch a pair of buttons and you know exactly what they will say and how they will say it.
He has developed a great life since stepping down as speaker in 1999. There is an array of entities that make up what has commonly become known as Newt Inc.: a staff, vehicle, and platform to promote his ideas and travel around the country supporting causes he believes in and allowing him to make a ton of money.
He's debating policy wonks one minute and Fortune 500 CEOs the next. Let's face it: He's built a sweet life.
Watching him with his wife, Callista, by all appearances he has a great marriage and was quite happy with his new life.
I bumped into them a few years ago at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla. After a speaking engagement elsewhere on the Gulf Coast, they were spending a weekend at the Ritz, just having a nice weekend, sitting around the pool, reading, and relaxing.
He seemed to have it all and was happier and more content than I ever recall him being as speaker.
Another time sitting over drinks at another resort, I walked away with a cocktail napkin full of book recommendations from him and ideas for my website. I have seen few political figures with the zeal and enthusiasm for life and ideas he has. He seems happiest when he is holding court about ideas, issues, and alternatives.
But Gingrich has long had a burning desire to run for president, a desire that no amount of convincing from friends could persuade him otherwise. No matter how great his life was, it seemed it would be incomplete if he didn't at least try to become president. It simply was an itch he had to scratch.
The challenge, of course, is that he tried to marry his great post-speaker lifestyle with running for president, two things that if either is done right are absolutely irreconcilable. You can't have great vacations, sleep most nights in your own bed, have other people deal with raising money, or speak only on lofty subjects and in the long form.
You can't take things at your own pace and seriously run for president, no matter how tempting it might be to try.
From a lifestyle point of view, campaigning for president sucks.
If you are running for president and your life doesn't suck, you obviously are not making a serious bid for the White House (or didn't have much of one before).
It means very few days off, very few nights at home, hundreds of hours of dialing for dollars and begging before groups large and small for money, and countless, mindless stump speeches, saying the same thing over and over again, trying to sound earnest and engaged every single time.