Newt Gingrich’s Dr. Jekyll on Display at St. Anselm’s College (ContributorNetwork)
COMMENTARY | Newt Gingrich seems to have a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde complex. When he was Speaker of the House, there was the “Good Newt” (Dr. Jekyll) taking his medicine as he was disciplined by the House of Representatives for ethical lapses who immediately underwent a transformation into the “Bad Newt” (Mr. Hyde), caught planning vengeance on his tormentors.
Mr. Newt Hyde helped sink the Speakership of Dr. Newt Jekyll. The public spectacle of his self-immolation was not pretty.
St. Anselm’s College
The Good Newt was on display in an conversation held at St. Anselm’s College’s Institute of Politics January 4. In his best Dr. Jekyll mode, Gingrich held forward on a wide variety of issues, showing himself to be intelligent, innovative, fearless, and utterly in command of complex subjects. This was the brilliant politician who engineered the 1994 retaking of the House by the GOP.
Gingrich has a knack at explaining complex concepts in an understandable way, a skill he developed as a history professor at West Georgia College from 1970-78. The man who wants to be the first president with a PhD. since Woodrow Wilson, Dr. Newt Jekyll left his college career behind when he was elected to Congress in 1978. The drug of power created Mr. Newt Hyde.
Just after engaging in this interesting dialogue at the Institute, Good Newt/Dr. Jekyll morphed into Bad Newt/Mr. Hyde and was trashing New Hampshire primary front-runner Mitt Romney to the press.
That Newt’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde complex can manifest itself so quickly likely is one reason his candidacy is floundering. In a profession (politics) where character (at least the public face worn by pols) is important, Gingrich’s two faces are on frequent display. It’s unsettling to watch in person an upbeat, highly intelligent man with an impressive legislative record elucidating well-thought-out ideas and then, half hour an later, turn on the TV and witness him as a petulant blow-hard unloading on a rival he seems to carry an unnatural hatred for, violating his own pledge to remain positive.
The Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde act resuscitates the specter of the serial adulterer who started the machinations for the impeachment of another serial adulterer (Bill Clinton) that paralyzed the government a generation ago. It reminds voters he is a risk we cannot afford should the old Mr. Hyde lurch forth after being drugged again with political power.