Gingrich More 'Nutty Professor' Than Historian
Noah Feldman is amused by Gingrich's academic past
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2012 11:59 AM CST
Newt Gingrich, accompanied by his wife, Callista, finishes signing a copy of his book "A Nation Like No Other" as he greets supporters during a book signing in Naples, Fla., Nov. 26, 2011.   (AP Photo/Erik Kellar)
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(Newser) – Newt Gingrich's attacks linking President Obama to Saul Alinsky delighted Harvard law professor Noah Feldman. "What excites me is not the preposterousness of the statement," though indeed, it was preposterous, he writes for Bloomberg. "What I love was the absurdity of Newt Gingrich apparently believing that the name Saul Alinsky would have any kind of meaning to the Americans listening to him." (It doesn't, Bill Maher assures us.) Truly, the ex-speaker is a historian at heart—he "can't help himself."

Gingrich wasn't a particularly successful historian—he was denied tenure at West Georgia College. But once he escaped actual academia, "Gingrich was free to become as historical as he wanted. His appealing combination of pedantry and righteous anger will make him a formidable opponent" for Professor Obama, who is more of a "rational educator than the nutty professor riding his hobby horse." Of course, the ironic part is that the past—particularly his ill-fated reign as speaker—is Gingrich's greatest weakness. His "success in South Carolina was an indication that the American people don't know much about history." As for Florida's electorate, "one suspects, the 1990s aren’t ancient history at all."