Newt Gingrich stands out amid the current GOP field in one particular way: he has a talent for arguing the premises of the question, and rejecting those too long accepted. His rise from the pit to brief front-runnership was aided by little else.

Which is why I found this exchange so irritating:

Gingrich needs to learn that no one finds smart, well-to-do white conservatives sympathetic, especially him. No matter what he says or does, people are going to find him arrogant. It goes with the territory of being unapologetically intellectual. So to see him wrapping himself up in the mantle of Victim of Paul’s Lies bores even as it offends.

This is what Gingrich should have said:

“Given that Dr. Paul’s foreign policy bears close resemblance to George McGovern’s, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see him adopt lefitst arguments to disparage his opponents. What is surprising is to see such an supposedly ardent Constitutionalist confused as to the requirements of the Presidency. Nowhere in Article II does it require that the President of the United States have ever served in the military; yet it does stipulate that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces regardless of his or her background. So the “chickenhawk argument” is a tiresome ad hominem which deserves no respect in these debates.

Moreover, what ought to be pointed out here is that no one on this stage has, in the parlance of the Union Army, “seen the elephant.” Dr. Paul was a flight surgeon in the Air Force before Vietnam. Governor Perry flew C-130 tactical airlift after Vietnam. Which means that not a single candidate before the American people has ever heard a shot fired in anger. So for any candidate to pimp his campaign medals as though he is the equal of a veteran of Second Fallujah strikes me as being in very poor taste.”

Instead, Gingrich accepted the premises of the accusation and tried to argue that he was something like being a veteran, which allowed Paul to trump his REMF service and win the point.

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