We hosted Newt Gringrich at Millsaps today. He was just as intelligent as ever but had a softer presence. You could really imagine him being president.
It was very interesting watching him today after seeing the A&E documentary on him made during the first 100 days of the Republican Revolution. At the time we really was kind of mean. Today he was kind of gentle. Part of it is that the rest of him seems to have caught up with his hair. Still something seems to have changed. He ages well. It seems to have brought out the best in him.
It has been great to introduce the students at Millsaps to him. The Republican students had a reason to be proud. Here was a Republican politician who is the intellectual equal of any nationally known Democrat. In the last campaign the intellectual superiority of liberalism was something taken for granted and that our conservative students have to have their faces rubbed in constantly (true or not, it is believed to be true).
But now, just as the country grows tired of Obama's tendentious, hair splitting evasions, comes a politician who genuinely has an interest in ideas. A politician who uses words to convey ideas rather than wiggle out of tight spots. Our Republican students were proud to have such a famous man here, but more importantly, they were proud to have such an intelligent man here to defend their ideas. In classrooms tomorrow it will be impossible to dismiss conservatism as a simple matter of bigotry or intellectual laziness. Just the opposite. The Republican students will be able to say, "So, if you liberals are so smart, how come you can't find a guy that can talk without having a teleprompter in front of him?"