Before he was the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich had gained acclaim as the author of a number of “alternate histories,” a genre of literature that speculates how important events in the past might have turned out differently. A high-brow genre this is not. One could say that “alternate history” is to “history” what “science-fiction” is to actual “science.”
Gingrich’s fans laud the research that goes into his tomes, but what they are really responding to are the feverish scenarios he conjures: Here’s Robert E. Lee winning the Battle of Gettysburg; there’s a victorious Nazi Germany imposing its will on post-World War II Europe. This is less the product of scholarship than it is a clown’s birthday party trick: Newt reaches into his bag of history, grasps an inflated moment of history, twists it into an amusing shape, and Voila!
But one wonders why this formidable conservative intellectual stopped at just the Civil War and World War II. Gingrich should focus his prodigious alternative-historical talents on one of the most consequential world-historical figures of our time: Newt Gingrich himself. Here are some suggestions for a series of “alternate autobiographies” that Gingrich may want to consider penning, both to indulge his own fantasies, and to earn some cash for the next Tiffany’s run. (Newt, if you’re reading: I’m available for ghostwriting.)
MASTER OF THE HOUSE
The Plot: After ascending to become Speaker of the House, Speaker Gingrich threatens to shut down the government in order to curtail Federal spending. He succeeds in shutting it down ... and then refuses to open it back up. Suddenly, the “private sector” springs into action and begins repairing roads, delivering mail, and invading countries for dependable access to their resources. Taxes disappear, replaced by a 100 percent mark-up on all purchases. With all the extra time on their hands, Gingrich and President Bill Clinton take a road trip across the country and patch up their differences through a series of conversations about futurism, and some wild nights in Vegas.
THE PLOT TO KILL BIN LADEN
PLOT: Three months after 9/11, President Al Gore surrenders to Osama Bin Laden and America is renamed “The United States of the Islamofacist Caliphate.” In a “secret location”, a cabal of businessmen, evangelical leaders, and country club enthusiasts turn to their only hope: Newt Gingrich. During a live broadcast of the new regime’s only television show, American False Idol (in which a panel of imams use Sharia Law to judge various godless citizens: hosted by Ryan Seacrest), Gingrich suddenly takes the stage and challenges President Bin Laden to a Lincoln-Douglas debate. Osama accepts, but the sheer genius of Gingrich’s rhetorical powers quickly disheartens him. Bin Laden promptly resigns from office and names Gingrich his successor.
LUNCH AND DINNER AT TIFFANY’S
PLOT: This whimsical romp is the true-story of Newt’s unlikely relationship with the third love of his life—which happened to overlap with his second. Callista Bisek was a political subordinate with a twinkle in her eye. He was the only man who could save America from the social disease known as liberalism. Their love affair is as passionate as it is patriotic. The book crescendos with Gingrich, in a reverie of romance, delivering an impromptu soliloquy about hard work to a cadre of socialist functionaries at Freddie Mac, thus convincing them to pay him 1.3 million dollars as a final act before shutting down their operations entirely. The moving coda shows the lovebirds as they make tasteful love in a bathtub full of bracelets from Tiffany’s.
PLOT: It is 2020 and Congress has just amended the Constitution, allowing President Gingrich to run for a third term, unchallenged. President Gingrich is also his own vice president, the only man he trusts. During his momentous run as President, Gingrich has narrowed the executive cabinet down to the Departments of War, Crime Fightin’, and Jesus. The “Soylent Green” program is both a profitable and successful way to feed the poor, who all have jobs digging graves for each other. The national debt is nonexistent, because the Federal government is a subsidiary of the largest company in the history of the world—Lockheed Exx-mart. After a brief and relatively harmless exchange of nuclear arms, China is now the 51st state. Gay marriage is against the law, but fashionable men may still brunch behind closed doors. Climate change, however, was confirmed as a national scientific fact, and it is now the official policy of the United States government to encourage the creation of new beach front property. ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” is the national anthem. The book ends with President Gingrich’s marriage to his fourth wife, his former intern.
John DeVore is a writer living in New York City.