Friday, January 20, 2012


Gingrich as President? Part 1

An Historian?

There is a question in all of this that intrigues me. How long does it take a creative mind to understand what history is all about from a methodological and a love of the discipline viewpoint, and perhaps from a specific slice of history point of view? To follow that line, how long might it take for someone to weary of being immersed in the purely academic world as opposed to the present and potentially dynamic future of himself and our society outside of the academic world? A few years, perhaps, for a smart and ego-driven person?

I can agree that for Gingrich to tout his credentials as an historian too heavily is not appropriate, as they are weak from an academic point of view.

Perhaps he has felt more at home in or near government for these many years where there are enough problems surfacing daily to satisfy his cerebral popcorn mind. I have worked around many of these types of people, have been managed by some, and tried to manage quite a few. They were often disruptive of the team by their very nature and ego, but the key problem was always to sift out the really worthwhile ideas they come up with from the rest of the noise, and to exploit them properly.

They seemed to me to be able to look at problems from a new and different perspective, and to be able to work out the first order of both their inherent worth and their difficulties somewhat fearlessly. It was always left to others, however, to dig deeper to find the second order difficulties in their ideas, and often the second order goodnesses too. That is what the team around such a person is challenged to do, and it is irritating to some in the extreme, but the results are the measure of success, such as the Contract With America.

My own opinion is that the three aspects cited take differing times: methodology can be learned rather rapidly, say inside of several years; from a love of the discipline point of view, another number of years, perhaps as much as six; and from a specific slice of history view, it is a career that has no definite end. It most certainly takes much time if several languages are important to learn, for example, rather than relying solely upon translations.

I suggest that Mr.Gingrich easily comprehended the methodologies involved in a short time, became disappointed in the discipline, seeing a long road ahead to tenure and a reasonably good income, and therefore decided fairly soon not to spend the rest of his life wallowing in a special chunk of history, especially if the chunk he was attracted to was filled with highly competitive academics already.

One might say that he was a participant in the creation of a period of history within the US Congress from 1979 to 1998, which would fit his direct experience with more recent historical trends there in considerable detail. That doesn’t qualify him as an historian of the academic kind, however.



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