A truly great movie about the greatness of basketball legend Michael Jordan would focus not on his success with the Chicago Bulls, but his failure with the Birmingham Barons and the Scottsdale Scorpions, two minor league baseball teams. The man whom no one could touch (metaphorically speaking) on the basketball court was bested by all too many on a baseball diamond.
The theme of the story would simple: just because you excel in one field of endeavor doesn’t mean you will excel in other fields. A great athlete in one sport is oftentimes, at best, mediocre in another.
And so it is, to a certain extent with Newt Gingrich in politics. A man who had a vision of Republican congressional majority and the political know-how to realize that vision, stumbles badly when competing for the White House. Reflecting on the implosion of Gingrich’s political team, Michael Barone recalls the Georgian’s successes:
He foresaw that Republicans could win congressional races in the small-town South and worked hard to prove it, losing first in the Watergate year and then in 1976 when Jimmy Carter swept Georgia before he beat a conservative Democrat in 1978.
I remember that starting in 1984 he was predicting that Republicans could win a majority in the House. He was wrong then, but he was right in 1994 and he was right about the reasons all along. He saw that Republicans would win most Southern seats and that talented young Democrats elected in the Vietnam/Watergate years would in time retire or be defeated.
He coached politically clueless Republican candidates with the high tech of the day — hours of Newt on audiotape — and bucked the Bush 41 White House and House Republican leader in opposing a tax increase in 1990.
Read the whole thing. In the 1980s, Gingrich foresaw a GOP majority when most people took it for granted that Democrats would run the House as the had for the past thirty years. He changed the face — and the attitude — of congressional Republicans. It seems he was better in devising legislative strategy than he is in running a presidential campaign.
When Newt exits the race, we will welcome his return to the world of punditry where he still can offer unique insights into politics. Michael Jordan’s failure in baseball’s minor leagues never diminished his stature in professional basketball. Nor should the implosion of Gingrich’s campaign diminish his accomplishments as a legislative tactician or the wisdom of his political observations.
RELATED: Newt’s arrogance & his undoing.
NB: Changed the title 14 minutes after posting this.