If it is December it must be Newt Gingrich’s turn to lead the Republican polls. Several times now conventional wisdom and the “insights” of the professional pundits have been proven way off the mark.
This year’s GOP presidential contest has had more twists and turns than a snake’s belly.
Then again, the Democratic nomination process four years ago had a similar twist when the conventional wisdom was that Hillary Clinton would skate through and Barack Obama would be an afterthought.
So did the Republican contest in 2008 when John McCain was widely dismissed as a busted flush after his campaign faltered.
Like McCain, Gingrich was widely dismissed when his campaign foundered over the summer.
Several key staffers left to join the Titanic, the campaign of Texas Governor Rick Perry, who was suddenly everyone’s favorite to overcome the presumed front-runner Mitt Romney.
Then Perry opened his mouth and that was that.
Next up was Herman Cain, who soon found the ample blanks in his resume filled in by lying, cheating women – at least, that’s how he portrayed them -- until a mistress of 13 years showed up with pretty damning evidence.
Exit Cain, and so the fickle finer has landed on Newt.
Unlike Perry and Cain, the former speaker has real achievements. He certainly has the ability and acumen that Perry and Cain notoriously lacked.
He is also a great debater as befits a Ph.D. in history. Unlike Perry and Cain, this is not his first rodeo on a national stage.
Gingrich is also now a Catholic, having converted after third wife Callista, a church choir member, convinced him to.
Given his checkered personal past and two previous wives, Gingrich certainly will not be flavor of the month with many evangelicals.
Yet they hardly warm to Romney either, who has failed to close the deal as opponents dropped like skittles around him.
The fact that Gingrich is a converted Catholic would make him, in some ways, the second Irish Catholic in the White House -- the other being JFK, of course -- if he won.
Gingrich’s grandmother Daugherty had Irish roots. In 1998 Gingrich undertook a four-day visit to Ireland north and south and visited the Inishowen section of Donegal where the Daughertys came from. The name has various spellings there and is most commonly spelt as Doherty.
The name means “the destroyer,” a description that might prove all too apt for Romney and the other Republicans who are suddenly finding themselves in Gingrich’s slipstream.
Gingrich reveled in the name when he was on his Irish visit.
"I've got Scottish MacPhersons in the family tree and they were the last of the Highland clans to concede to the English," said at the time. "My rebelliousness has deep roots."
As speaker of the House, Gingrich always stressed his Irish roots and was an ever present at the St. Patrick's Day celebrations as well as hosting a speaker's lunch for the Irish prime minister at the time.
He is certainly the surprise package as the election season nears. Whether he a hang on, or whether Romney can recover, will be the story over the next few months.
It would be a brave pundit who would call it either way.