He quotes some of Gingrich's past approvals and historical explanations: the Homestead Act that gave away land to people who would live on it and develop it; the railroad land grants that made possible the expansion of the U. S. railroad system; the public-private partnership that brought telephone service to rural areas.
Brooks further shows how, through the years, this enduring political philosophy has led Gingrich to support cap-and-trade energy legislation, universal health care coverage, efforts to combat poverty, and humane immigration reform. He is currently opposed to most of those, of course.
However, Brooks also recognizes Gingrich's faults as disqualifying. It's not so much his "shifting views and odd phrases" as it is his temperament and character.
From Gingrich's bombastic, rhetorical style to his temperament and character, Brooks faults him in comparison with Romney. Both are policy wonks and both have moved to the right as the party has moved to the right; but according to Brooks: Romney "seems to have walked straight out of the 1950s," while Gingrich "seems to have walked straight out of the 1960s."
"He has every negative character trait that conservatives associate with '60s excess: narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance. He just has those traits in Republican form. As nearly everyone who has ever worked with him knows, he would severely damage conservatism and the Republican party if nominated. . . . It's really too bad. We could have had a great debate about the progressive-conservative tradition. . . .That is a sober assessment from a careful thinker who would have liked to be able to support Gingrich -- but he can't. Just re-read Brooks' last paragraph. It says it all.
"But how you believe something is as important as what you believe. It doesn't matter if a person shares your overall philosophy. If that person doesn't have the right temperament and character, stay away."