Former Speaker, current presidential candidate, and erstwhile public intellectual Newt Gingrich began his address via satellite this way:
I understand there’s a panel, but I just want to say that on the very first day I am president, I will sign the executive decision to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Israeli sovereignty. On that first day, I will initiate an American energy policy so that no future American president will ever bow to a Saudi king. And on that very first day, I will initiate a strategy, in the tradition of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II, to undermine and replace the Iranian leadership by every method short of war.
There was a little more, and then he asked about the panel. There were about 10 seconds of dead-air. The moderator then said, “Mr. Speaker, there is no panel.”
They say in college, friends called him Ad-Lib Newt (also That Guy Who Is Marrying His High School Math Teacher [look it up]).
“One reason for energy independence is to say to the Saudis we will no longer tolerate their funding of madrassas which treat hatred and terrorism.”
“The teaching of hatred, the recruiting of martyrs, the anticipation that children will grow up to be killers, are not patterns that go with a peace process.”
“The red line is now, because the Iranians now are deepening their fortification.”
“We should move from strength.”
“The greatest threat to the United States is a weapon of mass destruction going off in a city, probably by a terrorist group.”
Newt, we’re going to miss you. Unless, that is, you don’t go away.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.