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Jonathan Alter wonders if Newt Gingrich can overcome his controversial record in his new column, Gingrich The “Historian” Skips Over His Own Past:

Every dog has its day. With Rick Perry and now Herman Cain felled by brain freezes, and Mitt Romney unable to close the deal, snarling Newt Gingrich has surged into a statistical dead heat in recent polls.

He has little money and less charm. He’s set new indoor records in hypocrisy. He’s now connected to Freddie Mac, long seen by Republicans as Freddy Krueger. But in this field, don’t count him out.

Romney and Gingrich are emerging as the front-runners because they’re brighter than their rivals and they prove it repeatedly in the only arena that counts — the televised debates. We can look forward to at least 14 more episodes of the hit show “Real Candidates” scheduled between now and March, which means that the characters, who love the exposure, have no incentive to drop out.

On stage, Newt, a former professor, is the testy brainiac brandishing a butcher’s knife. He always opens by slashing the moderators, who are stand-ins for the hated “liberal media,” even if they work for Fox News. Then he speaks in apocalyptic, high-flown terms meant to conjure Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. Just when it gets too wonky, he shanks the other professor in the race, the one in the White House.

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