Is Newt Gingrich About to Gamble on His History?

Christy at Firedoglake writes about Newt Gingrich's lastest announcement that if he can raise $30 million in the next three weeks, he'll hop in the presidential race seeking the Republican nomination.

Perhaps Newt thinks his marital history won't matter. Before examining his political record, let's take a look back at his personal story. From a post I wrote in 2002, Republican Sexual Hypocrisy:

In 1981, Newt dumped his first wife, Jackie Battley, for Marianne, wife number 2, while Jackie was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment. Marianne and Newt divorced in December, 1999 after Marianne found out about Newt's long-running affair with Callista Bisek, his one-time congressional aide. Gingrich asked Marianne for the divorce by phoning her on Mother's Day, 1999. [Source: New York Post, July 18, 2000, Newt's Ex Wife Aiming to Pen Book by Bill Sanderson, available on lexis].


Newt, then age 57 and Callista, age 34, were married in a private ceremony in a hotel courtyard in Alexandria, Va. in August, 2000. Here's a fuller description, from a commentary by Doug Sanders of the Cato Institute published by the Copely News Service on August 21, 2000:

"Gingrich's misbehavior goes back years. Fidelity was apparently never his strong point. After marrying his high school math teacher, Jacqueline Battley, even he admits: ''In the 1970s, things happened.''

"As a congressional candidate, he conducted an affair in 1977, a year before enlisting Jackie to write a letter attacking his opponent for planning to leave her family in the district: ''When elected, Newt will keep his family together,'' declared one unintentionally hilarious campaign ad. Gingrich ended his 19-year marriage shortly after his victory."

"He famously visited Jackie in the hospital where she was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer to discuss details of the divorce. He later resisted paying alimony and child support for his two daughters, causing a church to take up a collection. For all of his talk of religious faith and the importance of God, Gingrich left his congregation over the pastor's criticism of his divorce."

"Soon thereafter, Gingrich married Marianne Ginther, whom he had previously met at a political fund-raiser. He called her ''the woman I love'' and ''my best friend and closest adviser'' in his first speech as House speaker, in January 1995... Yet, his relationship with Bisek, a House employee, apparently extended back to 1993 while he was talking of reforming the corrupt welfare state and promoting society's moral regeneration. Rumors of his relationship with Bisek, more than 20 years his junior, did not stop him from writing his political testament, in which he criticized sex outside of marriage, promoted traditional family life and opined that ''any male who doesn't support his children is a bum."

"In May 1999, however, Gingrich called Marianne at her mother's home. After wishing the 84-year-old matriarch happy birthday, he told Marianne that he wanted a divorce."

And from "Newt's a Beaut" by Mickey Porter published in the July 25, 2000 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal:

"Gingrich's most recent ex-wife says he ditched her eight months after finding out she had multiple sclerosis. Marianne Gingrich, 48, shopping a book proposal "both personal and political" about how women are treated in D.C., says the ex-speaker of the House told her on Mother's Day 1999 that he wanted a divorce, after learning she had a neurological condition that could lead to MS. In 1981, the former congressman told his other ex-wife, Jackie Battley, that he was dumping her, after she had been hospitalized with cancer. Newt, 57, will wed ex-congressional aide Callista Bisek, 34 -- with whom he had an affair while still married to Marianne -- on Aug. 18. "

Newt's admitted having an extra-marital affair during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

As for Newt on substantive issues, if you've forgotten the terms of his 1994 Contract on America, signed by more than 300 Republicans, which called for ten bills, including a new crime bill, to be considered within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, you can revisit them here.

Terrorism bills proposed that year would have been more aptly been named "the McCarthyism, Korematsu and Star Chamber Renewal Act." All contained massive assaults on the Bill of Rights.

For those who don't want religion in their Government, Newt is not your guy.

Mr. Gingrich’s mission, as he sees it, is to save American civilization from the gravest crisis it has confronted since the Civil War. He has also set as a goal what he calls the restoration of God to a central place in American government and culture.

He has also said said court rulings over separation of church and state have hurt citizens' ability to express themselves and their faith. In that same speech, he advocated for limiting free speech rights in the name of the war on terror.

As for Newt on the war in Iraq, he was a big supporter of it when he served on the Defense Policy Board. He served from 2001 through 2006.

...''If we don't use this as the moment to replace Saddam after we replace the Taliban, we are setting the stage for disaster,'' Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House and a member of the group, said in an interview.

Here's Newt speaking about Iran in March, 2006:

Some Republicans, though, say a military attack may be required if only to set back Iran's nuclear program a few years. "Every year that we wait, the risk increases," said former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. "I would hope that the administration would decide to do something decisive. . . . We have the military power in the region if we need it. It's a question of whether we have the will."

Not that he cares, but I don't think he'll get the Hispanic vote -- he's already equated bi-lingual education as the "language of the ghetto" and mocked the idea of bi-lingual ballots.

If Newt gets in the race, the left and the media will have a field day with him. I just hope he doesn't start making Rudy look good by comparison. In my opinion, they're both abysmal choices for the Presidency.

< Marijuana Arrests at All-Time High | Prosecution Accuses Sen. Larry Craig of "Politicking" >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Sure but... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by TomStewart on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 06:09:39 PM EST
    Is he right with Jesus?

    Remember, as  long as he's a Republican, and having affairs with women, it's okay.

    and (none / 0) (#6)
    by cpinva on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 11:45:07 PM EST
    how do you know for certain he's only having affairs with women?

    he'd fit right in with the current crop of republican candidates though, if you think about it. how would you tell him from the rest? ok, romney does look better in a suit, but that's about it.

    he's a caricature of himself, no one with half a functioning brain takes him seriously.


    Sure, sure (none / 0) (#7)
    by TomStewart on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 01:19:31 AM EST
    but unless he's caught with a live (and or dead) boy, he's golden. I know, I know, he's nut's, but in this republican field, he'll blend right in. I place him somewhere between Rudy and Ron Paul, on the nut scale.

    well, i'm not sure (none / 0) (#9)
    by cpinva on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 08:23:50 AM EST
    about that. the main difference, i think, is gingrich's complete detachment from reality, as the rest of us know it. sure, rudy and ron suffer their own detachment, but i believe newt's got it all over them.

    truthfully, i think it would be highly entertaining (though not enlightening) to have all 3 in their own debate.

    just a suggestion FOX.


    Its a rule of mine never to wish for a (none / 0) (#2)
    by Molly Bloom on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 06:27:23 PM EST
    particular opponent in an election, but I could make an exception for Newt.

    If Gingrich treats the Constitution the way (none / 0) (#3)
    by sailmaker on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 06:47:47 PM EST
    he has treated his marriage vows, Gingrich will dump the Bill of Rights, no, the whole Constitution on the 4th of July.  Maybe we don't have to worry about the Constitution too much even if Newt does get selected:  Bush has taken significant wacks at it already.

    To be fair (none / 0) (#4)
    by scarshapedstar on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 08:56:42 PM EST
    The Constitution's pretty much terminal and might not survive unless we excise the Electoral College immediately.

    Why does Newt hate... (none / 0) (#5)
    by garyb50 on Mon Sep 24, 2007 at 11:00:59 PM EST
    ... sick American women?

    Because (none / 0) (#8)
    by TomStewart on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 01:21:03 AM EST
    sick women are no longer any use to him, and can only hamper his ambitions.

    Its the ideas stupid (none / 0) (#10)
    by benjamin on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 04:20:40 PM EST
    WHEW! Lots of worrisome comments but no real meat kids. Marriage vows and what ever other ancient history one would want to argue or dredge will pale and be long forgotten(if not already) on the stage of debate. No matter if it is with a misguided Obama or a life long fascist wannabe in the form of Clinton II, an articulate person with actual ideas and not limited to 20 second sound bites will make a definite positive impact on voters. It "is" only those with half of a brain that refuse to see this. As my comments may not fit in with those of the short sighted here, I expect not to see my comments posted. But thats cool, fascism isn't fascism when the far left does it, right?

    Mighty Meaty Comment there... (none / 0) (#11)
    by garyb50 on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 05:22:04 PM EST

    You might want to work a little on that 'articulate' thing.



    Fascism (none / 0) (#12)
    by eric on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 05:59:35 PM EST
    fascism isn't fascism when the far left does it, right?

    Actually, you are correct.  Fascism isn't a left-wing phenomenon.  It's right-wing thing, only.  There have certainly been authoritarian regimes that claim to be left-wing, but that definitely wouldn't be fascism.  (It wouldn't really be left-wing, either, but let's keep on point.)

    Fascism is, by definition, is a right wing phenomenon inasmuch as it is corporatist and puts the needs of the state above the individual.

    So anyway, you are right, the left isn't fascist.


    thanks ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by benjamin on Tue Sep 25, 2007 at 07:58:09 PM EST
    Eric, caught that huh? cool. Maybe all is not lost after all.

    garyb50, kids was just a term of endearment. you do not find Newt articulate?

    Comments now closed, new post (none / 0) (#14)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 26, 2009 at 01:41:54 AM EST
    here, comments open.