Matt Lewis

Like Churchill, Gingrich has both brilliant and bad ideas

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

For years now, I have been angering people by comparing Newt Gingrich to Winston Churchill. There are, of course, many differences between the two men. And it is always fraught with danger to compare a contemporary to a great historical figure. But, like others, I do see similarities.

Today, I will share one that is timely. Politico has a story up about Speaker John Boehner commenting on the former Speaker, and saying of Gingrich,

You know, like all big thinkers, they have some great ideas,” Boehner said. “And then they have some other ideas.

…. This, of course, is merely the latest incarnation of an old trope. As the Boston Herald’s Michael Graham recently opined, “the old line about Newt still applies: ‘He has 100 ideas before lunch, and one of them is good.’”

Gingrich told [Freshmen in 1994] that “to succeed we needed to concentrate on just three issues, and drive those issues,” [Former Rep. Mark] Souder writes … “And off he went into 100 new ideas”…

This sounds like harsh criticism. But it is interesting to note that this is almost exactly what was said about Winston Churchill. Consider this excerpt from Nassir Ghaemi’s book, “A First-Rate Madness:”

His mind never stopped; he was always thinking, always plotting and planning, whether or not he had reason to do so. Franklin Roosevelt observed this feature of Churchill’s personality after the landings at Normandy, part of which involved creating artificial harbors made by sinking old ships filled with concrete on top of the other to break the rough coast. Said FDR, “You know, that was Churchill’s idea. Just one of the brilliant ideas that he has. He has a hundred a day and about four of them are good.”

Sound familiar?