Newt Gingrich and I have the same alma mater.
I had no idea that we both graduated from Emory University.
The publication the school put out for alumni was in the mail today. Emory Magazine, which has got to be one of the best put together university communications out there, is used mainly to let us know what's going on back at the ranch, remind us of how much all the educational majesty leading up to pomp and circumstance for this generation costs, and prime us for the fundraising phone call from a student...
...a solicitation phone call that ironically came between the time I flipped through the magazine and the time, half an hour later, when I sat down to write this piece.
Gingrich was on the cover of this issue, his white capped head covering nearly half the page in a jowly pose similar to the one in the picture above that made me think of Tip O'Neill in the twilight of his career. I didn't know that he was the founder of Emory's Young Republican chapter. What I had always felt was a deep respect for his intellect, even if I didn't agree with many of the political positions he has espoused over the years.
His latest reincarnation, in which he is teaming up with Al Sharpton to push for improvements in the nation's educational systems, may seem odd from the outside, but I have always been amazed at the idea of a professor with a PhD turning his theories into action. No matter how much you may dislike the conclusions he arrives at, there is no way to deny that Gingrich is a first rate thinker.
One of my buddies, another Emory alum, thinks Gingrich is biding his time until the Sarah Palin types wear out their welcome, when my buddy insists that "Newt can take this thing." What my buddy doesn't realize is how much credibility Gingrich's association with Sharpton has cost him with the army of wingnut zombies following Glen Beck and Michelle Malkin, an army who mistakenly believe that they are real Republicans.
The reality for Gingrich is that his time to run for president has passed him by. As he comments in the Emory Magazine article The Man With The Plan, "I was in an airport, and these students came up and said, 'you're in our history book,'", Gingrich says. "I felt very odd at that point."
I don't know what he and Sharpton and Arne Duncan are cooking up, but I think Gingrich's academic background, his political instincts, and his stature will serve the groundbreaking educational tour well. As a matter of fact, this threesome will be in New Orleans tomorrow, November 3rd, and in Baltimore on November 13th.
In a recent interview that included both Gingrich and Sharpton, Sharpton told NBC, "The parents need to be challenged with the message of `no excuses.'" Gingrich responded, "I think that he has it exactly right, that education has to be the No. 1 civil right of the 21st century and I've been passionate about reforming education. And we can't get it done as a partisan issue."
"Amen" to that.