One of the world's great enduring mysteries is why some otherwise clearheaded analysts continue to portray Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich as some sort of intellectual policy wonk and not simply a blowhard and a liar.
The truth is, the former speaker of the House from Georgia is right up there with the Pauls, father and son, as a font of crackpot ideas. But while Ron Paul (who announced his own quixotic candidacy on Friday) and Rand Paul appear to be sincere in their advocacy of libertarian nostrums lifted from Ayn Rand's playbook, Gingrich knows that the nonsense he spouts is false and deeply divisive.
Don't take my word for it. The Washington Post's the Fact Checker column went over the interview Gingrich granted Sean Hannity, his former Fox News colleague, on Wednesday after announcing his presidential candidacy with simultaneous releases on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
After parsing the interview, the Fact Checker awarded Gingrich four "Pinocchios," its maximum award for deception. Gingrich's prevarications ranged from misstatements about the New York Times' attitude toward movies featuring Ronald Reagan to a vicious and totally fabricated slander of Attorney General Eric Holder for supposedly coddling terrorists during the years when Holder was in private law practice.
And who can forget Gingrich's cynical embrace of the preposterous tract put forth last fall by the creepy right-wing essayist Dinesh D'Souza — that President Barack Obama is driven by an anti-colonial rage against Western civilization that he supposedly inherited from his Kenyan father. "I think Obama gets up every morning with a worldview that is fundamentally wrong about reality," Gingrich intoned in an interview at the time. "If you look at the continuous denial of reality, there has got to be a point where someone stands up and says that this is just factually insane."
If that standard were to be applied to Gingrich's utterances over the years, we'd have to follow Smokey Robinson's example and laugh to keep from crying in disbelief. As a former history professor, Gingrich knew perfectly well that D'Souza's fevered fantasizing about the supposed roots of Obama's worldview is no more than a racist fiction. And yet Gingrich chose to repeat and legitimize it in order to put a phony intellectual sheen on the Birthers' campaign to reinvent the country's first black president as an illegitimate and exotic outsider. His cynicism exceeds even that of his fellow purveyor of falsehood, Donald Trump.
Given my own checkered marital history, I'm reluctant to criticize Gingrich's notorious track record with women. It takes a special kind of gall for a twice-divorced man — who tried to impeach a president for infidelity at the same time he was himself deeply immersed in an extramarital affair — to plan to use his former mistress (now third wife) as a symbol of family morality.
Yet according to the New York Times, that is exactly what Gingrich is planning. As the Times wryly observed, old Newt "is presenting himself as a family man who has embraced Catholicism and found God, with his wife as a kind of character witness."
You can't make this stuff up!
But then again, when you're dealing with Gingrich, you don't have to. To appropriate Mary McCarthy's famous quip about Lillian Hellman, everything Gingrich says is an untruth, including "and" and "the."
Jack White is a regular contributor to The Root.
is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.