The babies, Nancy and Michelle, woke in the middle of the night again. Mrs. Squirrel fed them while I swept out the nursery. Then we sang to them, quietly, so as not to wake Regis. He’s taking his Squirrel Aptitude Test today, and hopes to earn a full-tuition scholarship at BPI. I told him that BPI does not charge tuition, but he showed me a letter from the faculty senate on official white printer paper. Well, it was white except for the coffee stain. They said that was their watermark. Anyway, the point is, if Regis does well on his SAT he’ll get the same deal I get for being BPI’s roving correspondent.

BPI’s scholarship policy makes as much sense as Newt Gingrich saying he’ll teach a college course if he’s elected president:

By the way, I think I will probably teach a course when I’m president. I think I will probably try to do something that outlines for the whole country what we’re going to try to accomplish, and offer it online sort of like the University of Phoenix or Kaplan. So that way if the country wants, they can sign up. It would be free. Although given the news media’s assumptions about me, oh he’ll probably charge $100 a piece so I can get rich. No! It’ll be free. But the idea would be, why wouldn’t you want a president in the age of social media to methodically in an organized way share with you what they’re going to try to accomplish, so that those people who want to understand it can understand it.

This raises a number of questions. Would there be reading assignments? Homework? Tests? Would only “the people who want to understand” and pass his course be eligible to vote in the next election?

He didn’t offer many specifics, but his past forays into academia are not encouraging. Gingrich tried this same gimmick when he was elected Speaker of the House in 1994, offering a course titled “Renewing American Civilization” at Reinhardt College. In that course, which history professor Allan Lichtman described as “History Lite,” the texts were Gingrich’s favorite novels and movies. Well, and his own life, which Gingrich used to illustrate how “American Civilization” should be “renewed.” In other words, Gingrich taught his students that Americans need to be more like … him.

Tiffany’s would be thrilled.

Gingrich also managed to teach the Civil War without once mentioning slavery, and said American society was doing well until 1965. For those keeping score at home, that’s right after the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and President Johnson’s Great Society plans. As Gingrich taught it:

The modern welfare state basically says to you: Tell us what kind of victim you are, and we’ll tell you how big a check you get. […] In the elite culture model, we focus on losers.

“Losers” being code for the poor and the powerless. His proposed solutions, then and now, were the usual right-wing litany: eliminate the social safety net, cut taxes for the wealthy, and gut government regulations. He hadn’t yet come around to ending “stupid” child labor laws and making poor kids work as school janitors, but he was on his way. And back then he still supported mandatory health insurance, but he’s since decided that was a mistake because … well … Democrats passed it.

Gingrich can prattle historical quotes to support his points, although he often gets them wrong:

Of the Declaration of Independence, [Gingrich] says “They originally wrote, ‘We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of property.”’ Property? John Locke, yes. The Declaration of Independence, never.

That may be why Paul Krugman quipped: “He’s a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.”

Gingrich is a caricature of intelligent: glib and pompous. History and facts enter his mental digestive tract and are excreted through his mouth, as the resident faculty discussed in depth last week.

Their course was free too. Even for squirrels.