John Richardson’s Esquire piece ‘Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican’ gets it right. We liked Marianne when she was there intimately engaged during Newt’s rise. A sharp, quick mind and personality of her own, she was easily at home with policy thrust and parry dinner conversations. And provided a social grace very much in need.
Esquire’s quotes and details all ring true. Will it make a difference? Esquire hints at but doesn’t delve into the larger question. What of the weird state of Republican positioning Summer 2010? Those who loathe Palin flock to any signs of another Newt tease. Odd, because they mock Palin for being an air headed Neocon sock puppet while applauding Newt’s far more radical and dangerously incoherent ‘Camus’ blather at AEI.
He’s the walking University of Phoenix, sure. But his dilettantism at least comes with a faux degree in seriousity that Joe Klein accepts. In these de-stabilized times, Newt poses a far graver danger as either a pretend or actual presidential candidate than Palin ever could. His revels in expediency, destruction and irresponsibility are gasoline seeking a fire.
He wears the tight smile of a man who has very little room to move. He is known for his rhetorical napalm and is not accustomed to acknowledging that he often deploys it for its own sake, facts and gross exaggeration be damned. You don’t build a movement by playing fair. He didn’t single-handedly topple forty years of Democratic rule in the House by strictly keeping Marquess of Queensberry rules. And so in Newt’s world, putting Barack Obama in the company of Neville Chamberlain to win a news cycle is just the way it’s done. The grimace on his face says, What part of this game don’t you understand? His assistant looks at his watch. “We have three minutes.”
He will not relax, will not let down his guard, not this time around. He did that once when he was younger, spent three days with a reporter who got his staff to complain of his sexual adventurism and saw him yelling at an assistant. Afterward, he mentioned the episode to Robert Novak, who said, “What the fuck were you thinking?” . . .
After that, Gingrich started to deteriorate. There were times, Marianne says, when he wasn’t functioning. He started yelling at people, which he’d never done before, and he’d get weirdly “overfocused” on getting things done — manic, as if he was running out of time. He took to taking meetings while eating, slurping his food, as if he wasn’t aware or didn’t care how strange it looked. The staff responded with gallows humor: “He’s a sociopath, but he’s our sociopath.”
There’s a large part of me that’s four years old,” he tells you. “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 . . . 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.”
Worth reading the whole thing.