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Could Newt Gingrich overcome the scorn of the intellectual wing of the GOP and capture the Republican nomination? In his new column, “Newt Gingrich, Victorious Con Man,” Gene Lyons says that he can.

Newt Gingrich is the Jimmy Swaggart of American politics, a confidence man so transparent as to test the faith even of True Believers. Paradoxically, that’s precisely why the disgraced former Speaker looks a good bet to secure the GOP presidential nomination.

Not seeing through Gingrich’s bare-faced mendacity requires an effort of the will so profound it can only be accomplished with the aid of strong countervailing emotions—essentially the envy, resentment and fear which right-wing media have fomented among the faithful ever since the election of President Clinton and the 1994 “Contract with America.”

Metaphorically speaking, Gingrich’s candidacy is the love child of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, with Fox News throwing the baby shower.

This only makes the horror of intellectually-inclined conservatives at the prospect of Newt’s ascendancy more remarkable. Where have they been all this time?

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