Remember Newt Gingrich? The former bombastic speaker of the House who gained prominence by denigrating his political opponents as “radical,” “sick,” and “traitors,” rhetoric that was not commonplace at the time, and sent shock waves through the body politic.
It was Gingrich who led the Republican Revolution of 1994 that brought the GOP to power in the House for the first time in 40 years, and many analysts cite his tactics of character assassination as opening the door to the coarsening of our political discourse and the hyper-partisanship that is so toxic today.
But there is another side to Newt, and that is his curiosity about and his fascination with all things scientific, from dinosaurs to space exploration and the frontiers of technology. When he was speaker, he kept the cast of a huge skull in his main meeting room in the Capitol, using it during tense times to remind lawmakers “that 75 million years ago the T. rex thought what she was doing was important.”