Gingrich confirms my long time portrayal of him;
Also, Gingrich had a six year affair with his future third wife while married to his second wife

There is a long article about Newt Gingrich in Esquire. It includes an interview with him, and also an interview with Marianne Gingrich, his second wife, in which she speaks publicly for the first time about their 18 year marriage and how it ended. (Here is single page version.)

In the interview, Gingrich says:

There’s a large part of me that’s four years old. I wake up in the morning and I know that somewhere there’s a cookie. I don’t know where it is but I know it’s mine and I have to go find it. That’s how I live my life. My life is amazingly filled with fun.

The “cookie” is, of course, Gingrich’s latest “big idea,” his latest “ten point plan,” whatever it is, which he wakes up each morning all excited about, and gets other people (namely conservatives who ought to know better) all excited about, and he has lots of fun with that cookie, for about one day, and then you never hear about it again, because he’s gone on to his next cookie, his next toy. Which is what I’ve been saying about Gingrich for years, including the image, which he has now used himself, of him waking up each morning enthralled by some new thing.

For example, I wrote in May 2008:

In his article, [Rep. Tom] Tancredo also skewers Newt Gingrich’s latest nine-point plan to save the Republican party—or is it a twelve-point plan, or a seven-point plan? Who can keep Gingrich’s constantly exfoliating to-do lists straight? And who could possibly care? Gingrich wakes up every morning of his life with a new ten-point—or is it eighteen-point?—answer to America’s problems churning in his head, gives several interviews and a speech about it, writes an article about it, gets talked up in a prestige newspaper, stirs up excitement in conservative circles, and then forgets it all by bed time, when he drifts into a restless sleep and wakes up the next morning brimming over with a new twenty-seven point plan. Which gets the conservatives just as excited as on the previous day. Which shows that they are just as distracted as he is.

And the problem is not just that his to-do lists and other statements keep changing. It’s that they consist largely of hyperbolic blather. I’ll never forget the long letter he wrote about the Islam problem on behalf of some conservative women’s organization, which a friend gave me. The thing seemed very important, so I read it carefully. In the opening pages he described Islamic extremism as the most alarming threat in the history of the world, and spoke of the necessity of serious action against it. Then, in the second half of the letter he got to his “plan,” which consisted of … promoting women’s participation in democratic movements in Muslim countries. That was what he was pushing to defeat the greatest threat in human history.

Gingrich is a joke, a cartoonish parody of a political visionary. Yet such is the absence of talent and principle in today’s Republican party that a certain number of (understandably) desperate conservatives persist in putting their hopes in him.

Similarly, in an April 2007 entry on Gingrich’s bracingly hard line but empty and deceptive pronouncements on what to do about the Islamic menace, entitled “Newt: the ultimate blowhard,” I wrote:

In any event, the new Gingrich is the old Gingrich, and worse than before—the Gingrich who wakes up every morning on fire with a new ten-point plan to reform the world which you hear about once and never again; the Gingrich who (here’s just one example) in early summer 1998 urgently announced that Republicans must talk continually about the Lewinsky scandal, and then he never mentioned the subject again; the man who is all mouth, no character.

This shouldn’t need saying, but in today’s distracted culture it does. A public man who boasts that he is like a four year old child and that his political positions are like cookies he’s having fun with, should not be taken seriously as a political leader, let alone as a possible president of the United States. Yet all kinds of people, including the otherwise astute Andrew McCarthy, take Gingrich seriously.

- end of initial entry -

Paul K. writes:

In the same Esquire interview, Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, gives the following account of what happened after she discovered he was conducting an extra-marital affair in their own house:

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused. He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values. The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

That sounds very much like the Newt we know: it’s all about the talk. I hope he doesn’t waste our time with a presidential campaign.

LA replies:

I don’t think Gingrich ever pushed “family values” in his speeches.

Paul K. writes:

You wrote:

The “cookie” is, of course, Gingrich’s latest “big idea,” his latest “ten point plan,” whatever it is… “

Don’t discount the possibility that the cookie he’s looking for may be wife number 4.

Kristor writes:

I heard Gingrich interviewed the other morning on Catholic Radio. He has apparently converted to Catholicism, the native religion of his new wife. So much so that he is now involved with her in speaking gigs at Catholic conferences. It will be interesting to see whether Catholicism is another cookie, or whether it is for real.

LA replies:

Well, I thought he had converted a few years ago now, but the article says it was just last year. In any case, he has (of course) talked about his conversion quite a bit. He’s talked about having gotten forgiveness for his past marital sins. He says this, while married to the woman with whom he had the six year affair that broke up his second marriage.

As King Claudius says in Hamlet:

Then I’ll look up;
My fault is past. But, O, what form of prayer
Can serve my turn? ‘Forgive me my foul murder’?
That cannot be; since I am still possess’d
Of those effects for which I did the murder,
My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.
May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?

LA writes:

This, from the Esquire article, is all new to me, and I guess to everyone:

Early in May, [Marianne] went out to Ohio for her mother’s birthday. A day and a half went by and Newt didn’t return her calls, which was strange. They always talked every day, often ten times a day, so she was frantic by the time he called to say he needed to talk to her.

“About what?”

He wanted to talk in person, he said.

“I said, ‘No, we need to talk now.’ “

He went quiet.

“There’s somebody else, isn’t there?”

She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?

She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. ” ‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.’ “

He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.

He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.

The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

When they got to court, Gingrich refused to cooperate with basic discovery. Marianne and her lawyer knew from a Washington Post gossip column that Gingrich had bought Bisek a $450 bottle of wine, for example, but he refused to provide receipts or answer any other questions about their relationship.

Then Gingrich made a baffling move. Because Bisek had refused to be deposed by Marianne’s attorney, Newt had his own attorney depose her, after which the attorney held a press conference and announced that she had confessed to a six-year affair with Gingrich. He had also told the press that he and Marianne had an understanding.

“Right,” Marianne says now.

That was not true?

“Of course not. It’s silly.”

During that period, people would come up to Marianne and tell her to settle, that she was hurting the cause.

Kristor writes:

Claudius asks in Hamlet:

May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?

Certainly. We are all married to the wages of our past sins, with no possibility of divorce. There is no way to unmake history. And so there is no way out of the consequences of sin: the debt must be paid, and the payment will empty us utterly, and unto death. Yet no matter how much we pay, no matter how many fatlings we throw on the pyre, we cannot fully compensate for our sin. To do that, we’d have to be able to put things back the way they were before we had sinned, and that’s not doable, even for God. So compensation for the sin of one moment must be taken from the world at large through all future moments, rather than from only the sinner, in the form of a permanent and irreparable derogation of the beauties the created order might otherwise potentially have produced. A sin is a permanent reduction in the value of the universe. There is no creaturely way out of this predicament.

Yet it does not follow that we and the whole world must inevitably spiral down into utter death and dissolution, with no possibility of improvement. For creatures are not the only parties to the transactions by which we act, create, sin, and pay. In every creaturely enterprise, God is the angel investor. And God’s resources are limitless. God redeems our debt, if we but let. So while Gingrich cannot live down his sins, he can turn, and lead a new life.

LA replies:

In fact, Claudius himself sees the possibility Kristor mentions, of being forgiven notwithstanding the fact that he still possesses the benefits of his sins. His soliloquy continues:

May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?
In the corrupted currents of this world
Offence’s gilded hand may shove by justice,
And oft ‘tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law: but ‘tis not so above;
There is no shuffling, there the action lies
In his true nature; and we ourselves compell’d,
Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
To give in evidence. What then? what rests?
Try what repentance can: what can it not?
Yet what can it when one can not repent?
O wretched state! O bosom black as death!
O limed soul, that, struggling to be free,
Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay!
Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe!
All may be well.

So Claudius, immersed in his crimes and the profits of his crimes,—“my crown, mine own ambition, and my queen”—believes somehow that repentance and absolution are possible, and sincerely reaches out to God for forgiveness. And in that moment Hamlet secretly enters the room, planning to kill him, but, seeing him in sincere prayer, cannot do it:


Now might I do it pat, now he is praying;
And now I’ll do’t. And so he goes to heaven;
And so am I revenged. That would be scann’d:
A villain kills my father; and for that,
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
O, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And how his audit stands who knows save heaven?
But in our circumstance and course of thought,
‘Tis heavy with him: and am I then revenged,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season’d for his passage?
Up, sword; and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
Or in the incestuous pleasure of his bed;
At gaming, swearing, or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in’t;
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
And that his soul may be as damn’d and black
As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays:
This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.

And what happens next? Hamlet leaves, and Claudius, whose sincere momentary desire for forgiveness inadvertently saved his life, starts up from his prayer:


[Rising] My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

And from that moment forward he never again seeks repentance.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 14, 2010 09:40 AM | Send

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