There has been a lot of talk lately about how President Barack Obama seems to have lost his “cool factor,” which helped him secure a primary win and eventual White House victory in the last presidential cycle.
Now, for the most part, the aura of coolness seems to have slipped away from Obama, and it appears as though it has draped itself around a rather unexpected individual, that being current GOP front-runner Newt Gingrich.
In today's high-tech culture, a sort of geeky intellectualism is very much in vogue. This is in stark contrast to the past when cerebral Democratic presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson ran in the 1950s.
In fact, the cool quotient of deep thinkers is definitely on the rise as is evident in the smash success of the TV sitcom “The Big Bang Theory.”
The plotline of “Big Bang” revolves around two roommates, experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter and theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper, who are friends with aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali.
The intellectual prowess and comic geekiness of the four characters have transformed them into pop icons that amazingly share quite a few traits with former House Speaker Gingrich.
The GOP presidential candidate has a Ph.D. from Tulane and has worked as a professor of both history and geography. He famously co-authored and initiated the "Contract with America," which resulted in the Republican revolution of the 1990s.
It is also true that at think tanks, including the American Enterprise Institute and Hoover Institution, Gingrich is a well-respected policy wonk.
That being said, his bona fide coolness comes from the same genuine curiosity about the world that attracts television audiences to the Sheldon character on “Big Bang.” It turns out that, just like Sheldon, Gingrich has a deep love for science, particularly quantum physics.
Prior to 2008, he had actually reviewed so many books on Amazon he was classified as a top 500 reviewer. He critiqued 156 titles, both fiction and nonfiction. And also like his TV geek counterparts, he is a voracious reader.
Gingrich wrote a review of Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe” in which he described the quantum physics tome as “a remarkably well written and lucid introduction to some very complex ideas.”
He then launched into language that could be a part of any “Big Bang” dialogue.
“‘Nano’ is the space between one atom and about 400 atoms. At this level quantum behavior begins to replace the Newtonian (no relation) physics you and I are used to,” Gingrich explained.
The former House Speaker immersed himself in pure scientific geekiness when reviewing “Schrodinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality: Solving the Quantum Mysteries” by John Gribbin, a subject that was featured on a “Big Bang” episode.
“This is the follow on to 'In Search of Schrodinger's Cat,' which was a laymen's introduction to the complexities of Quantum behavior. I strongly recommend you read that book first to get a general introduction to the amazingly different world of behavior below the level of about one hundred nanometers or 200 atoms,” he wrote.
In a review of Richard Feynman’s “QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter,” Gingrich predicted that “quantum behavior will matter to the 21st century the way the steam engine mattered to the 18th and 19th centuries, the way the internal combustion engine mattered to the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, and the way computers and transistors have mattered to the last third of the twentieth.”
In reviewing “Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters,” Gingrich wrote, “He [author Matt Ridley] makes a compelling case that in the end our genetic code contains limits (humans cannot fly on their own) and probabilities (how likely we are to get breast cancer or Alzheimer's) but there are so many specific individual choices that no two twins are identical.”
The GOP presidential front-runner emanates a coolness that the current culture understands and admires, thanks to the achievements of real-life uber-nerds Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and the like.
Gingrich’s campaign would be well served to check into whether a Star Trek convention is scheduled any time soon in Iowa.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court and has made several appearances there on landmark decisions. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for InternationalEsq.com. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood.
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