Monday, November 28, 2011

Do you really want this guy as your President?

True confessions: The (wandering) eye of Newt

by Eric Alterman

About this affair of Newt's: I can't quite keep up with how many times he has been unable to maintain God's standards. I wrote a piece about him when I worked for Rolling Stone but I can't find it, so instead, some background.

From Scoobie Davis, here:

Here's a summary of Gingrich's family life: 1) Gingrich marries his high school teacher, Jackie, who was seven years his senior; 2) Jackie puts Gingrich through college and she works hard to get him elected to the House in 1978 (Gingrich won partly because his campaign claimed that his Democratic opponent would neglect her family if elected -- at that time it was common knowledge that Gingrich was straying); 3) Shortly after being elected, Gingrich separated from his wife -- announcing the separation in the hospital room where Jackie was recovering from cancer surgery (the divorce was final in 1981); Jackie Gingrich and her children had to depend on alms from her church because Gingrich didn't pay any child support; 3) Six months after the divorce, Gingrich, then 38, married Marianne Ginther, 30; 4) "In May 1999, however, Gingrich [55] called Marianne [48] at her mother's home. After wishing the 84-year-old matriarch happy birthday, he told Marianne that he wanted a divorce." This was eight months after Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis; 5) In 2000, Gingrich, 57, married ex-congressional aide Callista Bisek, 34, with whom he was having a relationship while married to Marianne.

From "The Gingrich Divorce and Its Repercussions on the Right," by Ann Gerhart, The Washington Post, December 18, 1999:

Newt Gingrich met Marianne Ginther in 1981 at a fund-raiser. She was 30. She had just broken up with a married man and father of three whom she had dated for some time. Gingrich was still married to Jackie, his high school biology teacher. He had married her at 19, partly to get away from his stepfather's domineering ways; she was seven years his senior. They had two daughters, now grown. Gingrich served divorce papers on her as she lay in bed recovering from surgery from ovarian cancer. Within months, he married Marianne.

His timing remains impeccable. In May, Gingrich called his mother-in-law to wish her a happy birthday, then asked to talk to Marianne, who was visiting. He told her he wanted out. He did not tell her that he had a patient mistress waiting in the wings.


In early summer, Marianne's friends called to tell her that Gingrich and Bisek were going about hand in hand. The Star tabloid made a splash by stalking the couple outside Bisek's Arlington town house, then tailing them to a French restaurant in Great Falls for a confrontation. Other tabloids chimed in. But the really big guns came from Gingrich--through his attorney.

He charged that the affair began because he and Marianne had been separated for six years, starting in 1987. This shocked not only her and his parents but also all the opponents who saw Marianne Gingrich on the campaign trail.

And then:

For six years, Gingrich, 56, two-timed his wife with a blonded-up, French-horn-playing Agriculture Committee staffer. His thing with Callista Bisek, now 33, was going strong through the Gingrich Revolution of 1994 that turned the Congress over to Republican majorities. It kept up through the Republicans' "Contract With America," Gingrich's 10-point plan to turn America to the right values. It steamed along during his ascendancy to speaker, when he gestured toward his proud wife in the balcony and called her his "best friend and closest adviser," adding, "If I listened to her 20 percent more, I'd get in a lot less trouble."

On it played through 1996, when Marianne campaigned vigorously for her husband, beamed from his side and shook countless hands. It stood strong while Marianne underwent the trauma and disappointment of unsuccessful in-vitro fertilization. While Gingrich lambasted the president at every opportunity for lying about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, while he successfully orchestrated the first presidential impeachment in a century, he was committing adultery himself.

Not that his wife ever knew, she said, even though both she and Gingrich had talked frankly of trials in their marriage, even though Bisek's name surfaced publicly in a 1995 Vanity Fair profile of Gingrich. (The young Hill aide was mentioned coyly as "a favorite breakfast companion.") When Gingrich told Marianne he wanted a divorce last May, she described herself as "blindsided" and "shocked."


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