With Newt Gingrich officially in the race for U.S. president, you get one guarantee: He won't be boring. Getting a taste of that Saturday were graduates at Eureka College, where among other quotable snippets he referred to Barack Obama as "the most successful food stamp president in American history" and insisted he'd be the "paycheck president who will create jobs."

With Newt Gingrich officially in the race for U.S. president, you get one guarantee: He won't be boring. Getting a taste of that Saturday were graduates at Eureka College, where among other quotable snippets he referred to Barack Obama as "the most successful food stamp president in American history" and insisted he'd be the "paycheck president who will create jobs."


The problem for Gingrich is that, unlike most of his GOP competition - with Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee now out - he's sometimes been too colorful for his own good.


On the one hand, he's long been an idea-a-minute guy who appeals to those tired of the same-old responses to problems that won't go away. On the other, no matter his opinions on health care, the debt or America's foreign policy place in the world, they may be overshadowed by his checkered personal life and the outrageous comments that have defined him. From his allegation of a "Woody Allen plank" in the Democratic platform in 1992 to our contemporary favorite - that his personal indiscretions were "partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country" - well, those tend to have a decent shelf life.


To be sure, Gingrich is seeking the Oval Office in an era when divorce is no longer disqualifying - what was no can do for Nelson Rockefeller in 1963 had ceased to be an issue for Ronald Reagan by 1980 - though to our memory he'd be the first thrice-married commander in chief. As founder James Madison wrote, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary." Many in the media get a bum rap here, but we trust most of us would be more comfortable sticking to public issues.


That said, Republican primary voters tend to have higher expectations. The New York Times ran several guest essays Monday on the relevance of Gingrich's peccadilloes. It's not going away, in large part because Gingrich the former House Speaker made moral character such a big issue himself back when he was busy impeaching President Bill Clinton in 1998 and suffering his own lapse of it with the woman who is now his wife. Americans will forgive many things in their leaders, infidelity included, but couple it with hypocrisy of the baldest sort and it's often lethal, politically speaking.


Of course, he won't be the only Republican - or Democrat - seeking his party's nomination while backing away from his own record. Meanwhile, seemingly everybody on the right idolizes Reagan, which is ironic, as much doubt has been expressed whether he was conservative enough to get elected in today's GOP. To that we'd suggest to all of the candidates that they not underestimate likeability, though at the end of the day it may still be "the economy, stupid" that counts most to voters.


Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.