There is nothing I can say about the state of this country's political health other than the fact that Barney Frank is leaving and Newt Gingrich is thriving.
Barney has brains, wit, conscience and a pretty good sense of proportion. He can argue his case but still see the other guy's, especially if it's a good one.
Gingrich was made by Bill Clinton to enter Air Force One from the rear.
Barney calls Newt "the thinnest-skinned character assassin" he ever met. It's a serious charge and hits home to those of us who remember how Newt came to power in the House. It was over the bodies of Democratic leaders he'd charged with "corruption," over a Democratic party he accused of treason.
It's how Gingrich gets what he wants. Now he wants the Republican nomination for president. And he has a chance to get it.
Republican conservatives have a basic goal for the coming year: win the White House. That means running Obama out of there.
Newt could be the man to do the job. He would go into debates with the President wielding whatever broken beer bottle his mind can manage to grasp - whether on the way into the ring or already there. Where Romney will enter with a Sunday punch - something on the order of - "With all due respect, Mr. President, you had your chance," dramatic, well-rehearsed pause - "and you blew it!" In other words, a line Obama will be ready to parry, most likely with his own well-rehearsed retort.
But Newt in the ring could be more dangerous, harder to defend against, harder to predict. Newt would unleash whatever charge will force his rival, President Obama, on defense.
"Character assassin" is Barney Frank's tag for him but wise to consider.
Newt will say what works to hurt Obama even if the weapon kicks back at him. He's taken a great deal of scar tissue to land all the more of it on the President.
One thing we know about Newt Gingrich. Ever since he arrived on the national scene, politics has been nastier, more feral, and too often uglier. There is something about this figure that darkens the atmosphere, lessons the spirit.
The haters of liberal democracy will cheer his every assault, his every rise in the polls, his every advance toward Tampa where the scene of him being nominated by a major political party for the American presidency promises a grotesquery to make even most hardened of us avert our glance in embarrassment and sadness for our republic.