Gail Sheehy, Newt Gingrich, and Plain Talk

Not quite a year ago, Gail Sheehy wrote a piece for, “Why Republicans Are Better At Affairs,” not as in affairs of state but as in adultery, etc. Here is a link.

It’s hard to say whether she proves her main assertion, and the topic itself would seem peripheral if the politicians involved weren’t determined to make it central, and after making it central, making things worse (Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, John Ensign, John Edwards, and so on).

The latter part of the piece seems especially interesting, however, partly because it includes what appears, at least, to be some self-reflection from Newt Gingrich, and partly because Newt’s former wife apparently decided to oppose him politically using an old fashioned figurative weapon: plain talk:

One daring exception to this lineup of standees-by-their men was the second wife of Newt Gingrich. When I interviewed the Republican Speaker of the House in 1995 for a psychological profile, he told me, “I found a way to immerse my insecurities in a cause large enough to justify whatever I wanted to do.”

Gingrich’s childhood was shaped by rejection from not one but two fathers. His mother was a manic-depressive. He had a narcissistic vision of the global glory that would be his if he were elected president. He behaved as if other people’s rules didn’t apply to him, running around with other women through both his marriages while campaigning as a moral crusader and wielding a hammer as the tough new Speaker.

In this case, the wife did the country and his party a favor: Marianne Ginther Gingrich told me: “I don’t want Newt to be president, and I don’t think he should be.” She wanted it on the record that she had warned her husband, “If I don’t agree, it’s easy, I just go on the air the next day, and I undermine everything.” She didn’t have to—Gingrich was caught having an affair with a staffer and dropped out. The staffer kept her job.


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