So Newt Gingrich has announced that he will be a candidate for president of the United States in 2012. In my view that is very good news for a Republican field that is anemic–candidates that have no hope, have no depth, or have no charisma. Former speaker of the house Gringrich has some hope, great depth, and a lot of spark. He adds gravitas to the field as a man of ideas and experience (think the opposite of Sarah Palin, and in other ways, the opposite of President Obama).
He’s also got real and imagined baggage. The imagined baggage is his tenure as Speaker, when he brought the Republicans to power but ticked off enough Democrats and media that it has become a supposedly troubling time in his past (when many believe it was a shining moment for conservatives). The real baggage is a stretch of bad behavior involving wives and a mistress.
The question for Republicans, and in particular social conservatives such as evangelicals, is whether Newt’s big conservative ideas will offset his big mistakes, and more importantly, whether he has repented of his sins and turned his life over to God. That’s a tough call, not only because it is not our role to doubt anyone’s profession of faith, but because both authentic repentence and authentic forgiveness are in short supply in the world of politics.
Nonetheless, it’s good to have Newt in the race.