Because he toyed with the media about running for President four years ago, there has been a lot of deserved skepticism about how serious Newt Gingrich is about running for the Republican nomination for President in 2012 - and he didn't really clarify the issue this weekend.
There's no doubt that the 67 year old would like to be President - but it costs a lot of money and energy to put in a full fledged effort, and the possibility that he would be a viable candidate to defeat Barack Obama, based on his extensive baggage, both on a political and personal scale, remains a large question mark.
But it was Gingrich's responses to two questions posed by Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace that exposed him as being unprepared to be a credible candidate.
The first was on the obvious: How Gingrich, like so many of his conservative brethren, suffers from such a visceral disdain for Barack Obama and his policies that it obscures his own real feelings on any public policy issue. Translated? If Obama is for it, you've gotta be against it.
On the biggest story in the world right now, the U.S. and its Europeans (and Arab) allies engaged in Libya, Gingrich literally was for the U.S. creating a no-fly zone before he was against it, forcing him on Sunday to give a tortured explanation for his obvious contradiction in his opinion (not the first time for Newt , just the latest and most baldly explicit).
WALLACE: Some are saying that whatever the president does or doesn't do, you're against.
GINGRICH: Well, you should have played an earlier clip when I was on Greta's show in late February and I said we should be for replacing Qaddafi without using the U.S. military.
Now, the president on March 3rd changed the rules of the game. The president came out publicly and said Qaddafi must go. And so I was citing there my original position, which is if you are not in the lake, don't jump in.
Once you're in the lake, swim like crazy. Our goal should — now that the president said Qaddafi must go, our goal should be the defeat of the Qaddafi government and the replacement of Qaddafi as rapidly as possible, ideally by using western air power with Arab forces, including I think Egyptian and Moroccan and other advisers to help with the ground campaign. But I see no reason for American ground troops to go in.
But I think the president has positioned us where once the president of the United States says Qaddafi must go, we have an obligation as a country to get rid of him.
WALLACE: Here is where I'm a little confused because on Greta's show on March 7, which is the first clip, you said that we should start the no-fly zone immediately. All she asked you was what should we do about Libya?
You made no mention about what the president had said, you just said we should intervene — let me finish and you can answer — right away. Even if all you were doing was being a good soldier, why on earth would you say I wouldn't have intervened after the president committed U.S. service men and women this last week?
GINGRICH: Because there is an earlier Greta show in February, which is where this all started. In February, I said we should find ways to get rid of him using the kind of strategies that Reagan and Eisenhower used, which was to help freedom fighters without using American force.
That became impossible once the president publicly said Qaddafi must go. So she said, this is March 7, four days after the president said Qaddafi must go and my answer was the context of if Qaddafi must go, you establish the zone, but notice immediately after I said it, you take steps and you need to get rid of it.
I'm against a no-fly zone if it's 90 or 120-day or six-month experience of the truce. The goal should be to get rid of Qaddafi. That should be communicated publicly so Qaddafi's forces lose their morale.
It should be unequivocal. You can't find any unequivocal statement anywhere that Qaddafi must go. In fact, the alliance is saying, well, this is really humanitarian, it's really not directly, you know —
WALLACE: Well, OK. Let's — enough of the past.