Newt Gingrich isn't my favorite politician, but he's certainly one of the most interesting politicians I've ever interviewed. Actually, I interviewed one of the other politicians in the most-interesting category, Marion Barry, jointly with Newt for a New York Times Magazine cover story about the future of Washington, D.C., which ran 17 years ago (crazy, because I'm only 31.) I would provide a link to this story, except that it was published in the Neolithic era, before the age of links.
Newt, who is dropping out of the Republican primaries approximately five years after it became obvious he couldn't win, isn't a particularly nice person, and I certainly don't appreciate the dog-whistling, and the whole treatment-of-his-wives issue, but I appreciate his curiosity about the world. It took me a while, but I finally figured out who comprises his core constituency. This is not a core constituency admired by many conservatives, but it's a constituency he should be proud to have: Scientists working for the federal government.
In recent weeks, I've run into three different scientists, working in the far reaches of different government bureaucracies, who were fantasizing about the thing that will never be, the Gingrich presidency. They knew in their bones that President Newt would have shared their love of basic science, of conservation, and most notably, of space exploration. One scientist, until recently employed by the Smithsonian, put it to me this way: "Most presidents never visit most of our museums, but with Gingrich, we'd probably have a hard time getting him out of the museums."