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Newt Gingrich's Skeletons: His Past Wives

3 years ago
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Newt Gingrich is a phoenix. He's risen again and again from political ashes and appears to be ascendant once more. Rumored to be running for president in 2012, Gingrich is an icon in the Republican Party, an eminence grise at a time of lost leadership. His fall from grace in the late 1990s seems a blip, rather than a political ending.
Thus the cover story in Esquire Magazine, September issue, written by John H. Richardson.

If anyone knows something about Newt Gingrich, it is his former wife, Marianne, and Richardson scored an interview with her. She is someone with a bone to pick, one that stems from the ending of their 18-year marriage with an affair. She knows a lot, and has never before spoken out. Richardson notes she is a "Tea Party" conservative. She believes in what she thought Newt Gingrich believed in, too.

Newt proposed to Marianne (she was 28, he 36) in 1980 while his first wife, Jackie, was in the hospital recovering from treatments for uterine cancer. He hadn't yet even asked her for a divorce. Newt met Jackie in high school. She was his geometry teacher. He was sixteen, she was 25. When he left, Jackie was nearly destitute. Jackie, the Esquire story reports, "had to get a court order just to pay her utility bills."
These are among the personal tidbits that Marianne Gingrich (she kept his name, these 10 years since the divorce and subsequent annulment), drops casually into the Esquire writer's lap as she smokes endlessly, each cigarette "down to the filter."

Some of the revelations are small -- Newt hated to be criticized for his weight, more than anything. Some of them challenge the folksy narrative Gingrich has created for himself, about his mother, for example. "She was pretty drugged up for a long time," Marianne tells Richardson.

Some of them are explosive in a town that privileges quiet staffers over mouthy associates. "He's a sociopath, but he's our sociopath," Marianne Gingrich quotes his staffers as saying, during the late 1990s when the House Ethics Committee investigated Gingrich's GOPAC's donations and his charity fundraising came under suspicion.
Callista Bisek, Gingrich's current wife, became his mistress first and his wife second (really third, if one is counting wives), while Marianne was home visiting her mother. In 1999, Marianne had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Newt asked Callista to marry him before he and Marianne had agreed to divorce. The affair had been going on for years. Newt compared Marianne to a "Jaguar" and Callista to a "Chevrolet" and said he needed a Chevrolet, not a Jaguar, according to the Esquire story. In 2000 the couple wed.

Even so Gingrich continued to give speeches about family. "How do you give that speech and do what you are doing?" Marianne asked him. They were in the death throes of their relationship. "It doesn't matter what I do," he told her, according to the Esquire story. "People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I say. It doesn't matter what I live."

He recently converted to Catholicism and asked Marianne to agree to an annulment. "It has no meaning," Marianne Gingrich told Richardson. (Amy Sullivan, writing in Time magazine last year, noted that it might be a prep move for a 2012 bid, and also noted that Callista is a lifelong Catholic and sings in the choir.)

The former Mrs. Gingrich believes that Gingrich's do-what-I say, not what I do philosophy will be his undoing. "There's no way," she tells Richardson, of Gingrich becoming president. "He could have been president. But when you try and change your history too much, and try and recolor it because you don't like the way it was or you want it to be different to prove something new...you lose touch with who you really are. You lose your way...He believes that what he says in public and how he lives doesn't have to be connected. If you believe that, then yeah, you can run for president."

Richardson met with Gingrich in his Washington, D.C., K Steet offices. But all of his questions were met with the narrative that Gingrich always offers. His childhood, for example, was all "sugar pies" and "fabulous." (Richardson writes that Gingrich's mother was manic-depressive.) Gingrich says his conversion to Catholicism was for Bisek. "Callista and I kid that I'm four and she's five and therefore she gets to be in charge because the difference between four and five is a lot," he told Richardson, maintaining a cheerful, unruffled air throughout their interview. Marianne Gingrich says the line was hers, not her former husband's.
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146 Comments

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mjkntx7

OH, Mr Gingrich makes some very astute, right on, statements, so we need to drag out all the old skeletons in his closet.. Funny how they don't do that when dems shoot off their mouths..

August 19 2010 at 6:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
snakedoctor

It's apparent to me and I assume to others, that Gingrich wants to be President. I don't know if the GOP has the guts to run him? He has a lot of baggage and I don't think that he can carry it all. It looks to me that his baggage will bite him big time, but what do I know?

August 19 2010 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to snakedoctor's comment
mjkntx7

Mr Gingrich is Usually a source of reality & wisdom on most of the relevant issues of the day.. but he is too Establishment and is getting up in age. Newt would be quite valuable in an Advisory capacity..

August 19 2010 at 6:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
frenchw

I find it most interesting that by mentioning 'facts' about politicians, whether they are R's or D's, that it may constitute a personal attack on a politician. I hope this is not the case. But it is a sad commentary on the reckless behavior of so many politicians, especially the ones who tout "Family Values" and then have few of their own. The list grows and grows and yet we, the public, are supposed to have unlimited faith in their ability to lead, no matter the example. There have been so many - Gingrich, Edwards,Craig,Spitzer, Livingston, Hyde, Sanford, Ensign, DeLay, Wallop,Clinton. Few of these men have understood what they have done to their families and the trust that is supposed to be so sacred, has been so abused. These men had good core beliefs and values when they ran for office, but somehow the power of their office and their own perception of that power - over took any thought of what they were doing to the very people who supported them the most. Until anyone has walked in the shoes of the political wife, I doubt that it is possible for many to understand how it has affected us and our families. Betrayal is betrayal, but on a far more public scale, designed to humiliate the wife. Essentially, the politician is saying - "I am so powerful, that I can do whatever I want and dust aside the consequences".....and that the public really does not care what we do in our private lives".... I guess the polls will tell on any given election day. As Americans, I believe we must care deeply about the way our leaders conduct their public and private life.

August 19 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
phylliskunz

The only thing you can do with skeltons in the closet is to take them out and dance with them.

August 18 2010 at 12:46 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
irchristo

I have observed that people live compartmentalized lives. It is possible for a man to be brilliant in one area and completely flawed in other areas. Newt Gingrich, President Obama, and others are examples of this. Each is personally flawed yet able to function highly in other areas.

August 16 2010 at 11:57 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to irchristo's comment
janetrb

I agree, however, Newt was in the group that hounded Clinton, so I'll just use the same measure against him that he used on Clinton.

August 19 2010 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tjbroderic

What is clear is that Newt just likes screwing people -- usually more than one at one time and usually in different ways -- physically screwing people, lying to people, depriving them of alimony owed them, abondoning them in their greatest moment of need. And you know, when a man has to get court ordered to pay a utility bill for a dying ex-wife, then you know he his purely and simply white trash all the way down to the marrow in his bones Newt may not like it, but he is in fact a fat, pasty-faced white boy with all the morals and manners of the reptile after which he is so appropraitely named.

August 16 2010 at 11:55 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
leaper420

Oh boy, oh boy , oh boy, what a choirboy Newt is. He's probably no different than the majority. The point of what people are arguing about is moot. He's probably no better than me or most of you but not a person I would vote for president.

August 16 2010 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Judy

I would like to hear Newt's side of the story....

August 16 2010 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
breitwell1

I thought that Newt Gingrich was a brilliant leader, when he was in Congress. However, since he can't keep his pants zipped, I could never vote for him. If he cheats on wives to whom he has made a vow, he will cheat on his constituents. A cheater is a cheater is a cheater.

August 15 2010 at 7:08 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to breitwell1's comment
Chuck

I wonder if you voted for J. F. Kennedy, or did you know his reputation?
Chuck N

August 15 2010 at 7:33 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
sanbor9

jmartin408, you missed the point. This man Newt preaching about family value to us, while he abandoned his wife for another woman when she needed him more. That, is the issue.

August 15 2010 at 8:52 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
frank1946

A rocky love life has been the American standard for marriage for four decades,
American women are not comforting or nurturing women............they are selfish
and competitive which leaves little time to care or worry over a Husband !
Then a Journalist reveals that the man is responsible for his former competitive
and selfish wife.......you must be Joking ? This theme is the Fad in Journalism
today........yes printed media is disappearing, no wonder !

August 14 2010 at 8:09 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

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