While Newt Gingrich has many opinions on many things, a running theme of his record of provocative public has been his opinion of himself and how he stacks up against other great -- and not so great -- minds. He is as unconventional as Margaret Thatcher, as great a compromiser as Henry Clay, as tough as Ho Chi Minh and definitely smarter than Michele Bachmann and the entire on-air staff of Fox News. On Wednesday, we learned that as his campaign was barely surviving this summer, Gingrich never doubted himself, according to Politico's new e-book, The Right Fights Back. 'I told somebody at one point, "This is like watching [Sam] Walton or [Ray] Kroc develop Walmart and McDonald's,'" he said. The history-loving Gingrich has a long history of making such comparisons.
People Gingrich thinks he's like:
French President Charles de Gaulle
Gingrich said his long absence from elected office could actually work in his favor, as he explained to The New York Times Magazine in 2009. Gingrich siad he buys into the theory of English writer Arnold J. Toynbee that leaders have to go away for a while before they can come back and lead. “I believe in the sense that, you know, De Gaulle had to go to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises for 11 years ... Departure and return. And someone once said to me, if you don’t leave, you can’t come back, because you’ve never left."
Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
"Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I'm such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I'm trying to do," Gingrich told CNN's Jim Acosta October 16.
Gingrich told South Carolinians this month that this election, voters had to make “choice comparable, I think, to 1860 and it may be comparable in some ways to 1788," the Times reports.
"In a more reflective mood, Gingrich compared himself to the Duke of Wellington, who had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Before that famous victory, Wellington had been criticized for not taking the offensive and then, when he did attack, for taking too many casualties. Like Wellington, Gingrich just had to hang on to survive; ultimately his cause would triumph," Newsweek reported in 1996.
19th Century House Speaker Henry Clay
"I was not a presider, I was the leader ," Gingrich told USA Today in August 1999, for a story headlined "Gingrich: I'll go down as leader, Clinton as tragedy." Gingrich explained, "I think Henry Clay's probably the only other speaker to have been a national leader and a speaker of the House simultaneously." The comparison shocked the editors of the Toledo Blade.
Washington Mayor Marion Barry
In a joint even in August 1995, Gingrich said he, like Barry, is a "revolutionary" trying to "liberate" people from drugs and poverty, the Washington Post reported.
Gingrich saw a little of the communist in himself -- "not in ideology, of course, but in commitment and fervor," Richard Reeves explained January 8, 1995. The congressman said, "They can crush me. But they can't outlast me."
Gingrich told the Associated Press' Philip Elliott Tuesday that he didn't have to become a lobbyist because his speeches made him so much money, “I’m going to be really direct, OK? I was charging $60,000 a speech. And the number of speeches was going up, not down. Normally, celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.’’
But it's just as instructive to see which people Gingrich thinks he's not like.
People Gingrich thinks are dumber than him:
At a campaign stop in Greenville, South Carolina Tuesday night, Gingrich responded to reporters' questions about Bachmann's claim that his immigration proposal amounted to "amnesty." No way, Gingrich said, according to the Washington Examiner's Byron York. "Some people are just factually challenged," Gingrich said to explain Bachmann's claim. "It's unfortunate. When I was a teacher I occasionally had a student who couldn't figure out where things were or what things were or what the right date was. When that happens, you feel sorry that they are so factually challenged."
Fox News on-air talent
When a South Carolina woman stumped Gingrich on an AIDS policy question at a town hall, Gingrich's response was not that he was dumb, but that other people are dumber, Think Progress reports. "One of the real changes that comes when you start running for President -- as opposed to being an analyst on Fox -- is I have to actually know what I'm talking about. It's a severe limitation."
Ever see the meme from a few years ago that says every single New Yorker cartoon can have the same one-line caption and still make sense? That caption is, "Christ, what an asshole," and it could be the closing line of nearly every Newt Gingrich story.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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