Common Ground In Education
I don't consider it all that unusual to see Barack Obama meeting with Newt Gingrich today. First of all, Obama does this all the time, and my ability to be shocked by it has worn thin. I'm more concerned with results and support leaders talking to people with whom they don't agree. Second, the subject of the meeting (which also included Al Sharpton and Michael Bloomberg) was education reform, and I've long said that this is an area where Republicans ought to work with the President, especially because they're on the same side. The President supports charter schools, he supports high standards, he supports some kind of merit pay, he comes down on the reform side of the debate between reformers and teacher's unions, and so do his top advisors, like his Secretary of Education. They may not like Obama ending the privatization of the student loan system and making Pell grants permanent, but there's a substantial amount of common ground there.
As for fearing the elevation of Newt Gingrich, I don't think that keeps anyone in the White House awake at night. Nobody really likes him out in the country.