Eye Of Newt

There’s a new flavor of the month among the Republican presidential candidates — at least, according to the polls.  Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and intellectual gadfly, apparently has become the frontrunner.

The Republican campaign, if you can call these tedious months of “debates,” fund-raising, straw polls, and polling a campaign, seems like an exercise in Fortune’s Wheel.  Every so often the wheel is spun, the candidates at the bottom move to the top, and the former front runners tumble to the bottom.  Right now, it’s Gingrich’s turn at the top of the wheel.

It’s not surprising that Gingrich should get traction.  He’s glib, has performed well in the debates compared to the stumbling performances of other candidates, and has a track record as Speaker of the House that features balanced budgets.  Of course, his record as Speaker includes other, less positive actions and ethics claims, he’s had some personal issues over his lifetime, and his activities during the years after his tenure as Speaker have yet to be fully explored.  We know he shopped at Tiffany’s, wrote books, was involved in some kind of work for Freddie Mac, and was part of the stew of consulting firms, advocacy organizations, tax-exempt groups, commissions, and task forces that are found everywhere in Washington, D.C., but that’s about it.

Now that Gingrich is at the top, his record as Speaker and his activities since then will get lots of attention — and we’ll see if the scrutiny causes another turn of Fortune’s Wheel.

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