Mr. Gingrich is well known as the candidate of big ideas, hatched from a deep knowledge of politics and policy. But he is less recognized for his warehouse of everyday facts, the kind of small-bore knowledge useful in winning bar bets–or in impressing voters and arguing down skeptical reporters.
Mr. Gingrich appears to have a steel-trap mind and would make a dangerous opponent at Trivial Pursuit.
But what about Gingrich's misstatements? According to PolitiFact, at one debate Gingrich claimed that Sarah Palin was right about the "death panels" in the healthcare law–which earned him a "PANTS ON FIRE" from the site.
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt, though–the healthcare law is not precisely "history." Perhaps the same goes for his claim that the stimulus bill "is anti-Christian legislation that will stop churches from using public schools for meeting on Sundays, as well as Boy Scouts and student Bible study groups." To be fair, that was in 2009–way before he was the smartest presidential candidate in the room.
But PolitiFact also gave Gingrich a "PANTS ON FIRE" for his his Twitter claim that the United States spends less on its military (as a percentage of GDP) than at any time since Pearl Harbor. A historian might be expected to know something about that.