Donald Trump has become so polarizing a figure in our politics that everyone is devoted either to praising him or panning him, but most don't take the time or trouble to understand him. And, as a result, very few people do.
Newt Gingrich does.
In his new book, "Understanding Trump," he explains what he has learned.
He describes Trump by contrasting him with other types of people with whom we are more familiar in public life.
—From Queens, not Manhattan. When you say you are from New York, people think skyscrapers, Wall Street and elite, beautiful people. But Trump thinks of Queens, the working-class borough in which he was raised. Gingrich stresses that Trump grew up in a 2,000-square-foot modest home, not a mansion. He went to a military academy for high school, not an elite prep school. He came to Manhattan as so many have — a blue-collar boy looking to move up.
—An entrepreneur, not an academic. Trump is not interested in theory, Gingrich tells us. If it works, do it. If not, junk it. He wants to do what works. An academic values process. Trump values results.
—A builder, not a financier. Gingrich doesn't mention Mitt Romney, but he might as well have. He contrasts financiers, who stay in air-conditioned offices and play with computer models and spread sheets, with builders, who get their hands dirty on job sites.
—A pragmatist, not an ideologue. Is Trump a conservative? Gingrich argues that he is more of an anti-liberal who spurns ideological solutions that don't accomplish anything. And he says that Trump is anti-stupid, rejecting policies, for example, that bring to our shores people who want to kill us.
—A father first. We all loved the Kennedys because there were so many of them and they blended into a team. So do the Trumps. Donald Trump has built an empire, but he has first raised a family. And, as Gingrich says, that's more important.
—Trump doesn't just understand the media, he masters it. Trump knows that people want honesty more than anything else. By letting it all hang out in his tweets, Trump puts his views on the line. Nobody can accuse him of posturing or posing. Even the warts he reveals demonstrate his authenticity.
—Dream big, achieve big. Trump, Gingrich says, is the first person to be elected president without some public office or military rank in his background. And, he predicts, Trump may become one of our greatest presidents.
So, before you judge Donald Trump, understand him. And use Newt Gingrich's book as a guide.