Newton Leroy Gingrich – Esquire Gets It Right

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.”

And this:

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.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    The 2005 era liberal-libertarian conversation never made much sense beyond belated common animus to failed Neocon foreign policy. (Lindsey’s objectively right to police the same Neocon meme infiltration in domestic contexts in the link you provide. Subjectively he’s out of step on institutional brand positioning and Obama-as-socialist-fascist-menace).

    CATO’s been ambivalent throughout 2001-10 facing significant donor pressure. Even on war, internally, some at CATO opposed Operation Iraqi Excellent Adventure. A few went public in 2002-03 on TV and at Grover’s Wednesday Meetings. After donor pressure and personality issues, CATO fired one visibly that year — with less finesse and decency showed here. Message received. Dissent only re-emerged when the Warlord’s Epic Fail became conventional wisdom.

    Foreign policy issues are easier to integrate by their nature. Domestically, what do liberals bring to a libertarian’s table they can sell or fob off on donors? Surveillance? Civil liberties? Holder’s DoJ non-chalantly advances arguments beyond even Fredo or Ashcroft. The Permanent National Security State is doing quite well, thank you, although fretting at the possibility of only a 1% perpetual increase of a $700 billion budget. War? They’re expanding it globally into new countries.

    Libertarians got nothing. Same as Obama’s ‘base’.

    Lindsey’s probably fortunate he lasted into 2010. Look at CATO’s donors and internal personalities. And then consider health-care, card check, Boyden Gray’s (Bush 41’s Counsel) ‘Cap and Trade’ idea, GM and Chrysler, Liz Warren, even watered down FinReg, etc. ‘Liberal-libertarian’ dialogue is alot like Charlie Crist hugging Obama.

    CATO in this economy has to be mindful of three things: (a) product differentiation to support donor competition; (b) internal rice bowels; and (c) marketing policy product to new consumers on the Hill. Unlike Democrats, the Bourbons are vengeful and remember.

  2. Comment says

    This guy Lindsey and his intern ( Wilkerson) was recently let go from Cato – Possibly because he was out of line. However, Art Brooks effort to replace the reigning culture war (religiously centered) with one more hospitable to the secular imperial city think tank class will fail.
    We have heard bookish fellows on the right discuss their hope for a different kind of culture war far back to when Mel Gibson was popular showing fealty to his movie became they conservative thing to do.

  3. Comment says

    Spot on w/ your comparison btw Newt and Palin – However, Palin is a hater – just not a self hater. She has real deep resentments of being slighted by the ruling culture – and her popularity is due in part (imo) to her inability to hide that resentment. It’s hard to quantify – there is some of the Wallace inheritance, but it’s more complicated because it is linked to her authentic sex appeal (which is now in natural decline and managing that decline will be interesting).

    Newt has gotten away with his Camus BS for too long. His squalid personal life and his easy willingness to attack religious minorities in his own country will serve to undermine his long term usefulness to the Aspen/Davos class.

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    How it must gall Newt to see Palin command greater attention tweeting from the Wasilla Chili’s. It takes effort for him never to be outflanked on the right. He has to concoct a noisome stew of prejudice, resentment and fear. Slap Camus on it to overawe Tweety and Joe Klein. Corral C-SPAN and an AEI audience. For what? Half a news cycle.

    She updates Facebook and owns 1/2 a week. Plus, she’s *happy* she doesn’t have an Ivy PhD. She makes more money than him, too. She’s not weighed down with Newt’s self loathing and deep resentments. Her blithe lightness must frustrate him so.

  5. Comment says

    Newt was like a political vulture preying on the memory of the dead of 9-11 to serve his his anti moslem demagoguery re GZM – Anyway – they guy who owned that Park Pl building was no great shakes himself – basically a NJ slumlord looking to make some money.

  6. Comment says

    A contract with the earth w/ Newt and Sachs – At least Earth in Balance had a note of modesty in the phrase. The fact that Newt is being insincere and Sachs is trying to mend his own brand means little.

  7. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @Comment re Newt, you’re spot on, of course. Caught the Automobile Association/former Chief Valet Andy Card on the Mika Den Mother show briefly. (How shallow she’s become chasing Q ratings. We remember Zbig telling us years ago how proud he was of her when she won some journalism award at CBS — like any father. Now, she just clucks and sighs at Scarborough for Starbucks).

    Card did the usual Establishment Republican CYA bow before Newt. ‘Of course he’s brilliant and exciting, etc.’ To a valet like Card he probably does come across that way. Card et al. are especially unwilling to take a stand against Newt because they want to make sure however this febrile moment ends up, they are still ‘viable’ functionaries – Newt’s very unpredictability making them extra cautious.

    Newt’s Catholic posturing gets public approval from that Movement sector. They know he’s also using the existing Catholic meme distribution network to further his schtick. For Newt, politically, it’s like having access to the Oprah Book Club – it’s an organization and distribution network he could never build on his own.

    In private, a number of long time Movement Catholics don’t trust Newt personally per our conversations. True, some are bedazzled by his ‘Table Talk’ mish mash ala Card et al. Those shock troops under say 35 who don’t really remember 1994-1998 are especially vulnerable. Given that the whole generation accept factoids from Google searches as academic research and ‘deep think’ it’s no wonder. Newt is custom made for today’s world that way.

    Those more veteran Catholic Movement operatives — people of palpable, deeply moving faith that we’ve spent time with — they are suspicious, sensing opportunism. Some of them remember fondly that if Newt had his way with his Opportunity Society babble, his America would have been a direct mail economy with an orbiting White House pursuing Total Quality Management. Not something they or anyone of faith would want to see happen to their Church, understandably.

    Callista Gingrich, by contrast, is accepted whole-heartedly with great personal affection (her dalliance with the married Newt in the 1990s long since forgiven). The value of her political cover is not appreciated by non-Movement observers.

    Veteran Movement Catholic operatives we talk with view Newt’s efforts as potentially helpful activities by an arriviste. It’s a win, win – if he helps energize and convert American Catholicism to a more Continental variety that’s a plus. If (or when) he really screws up in public, he can be jettisoned as ‘never really one of us to begin with.’

  8. Comment says

    This is just Newt projecting his own psychological issues – “”I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true,”

    Whatever anyone can say about Obama for or against – he is far more normal and secure in his sense of self than Newt.

    We suspect Newt is about one year away from another personal meltdown –

  9. Comment says

    Newt is getting more squalid by the day – He probably thinks Dnesh provides him with race cover and some deniablitity – But Dinesh is a social misfit himself (albeit w/out Newt’s academic-intellectual insecurity).

    We keep seeing more and more cheesy fundraisers Newt is sending out to Catholic groups – in which he plays the victim and asks for money to defend the faith against the secular attacks.

  10. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Newt’s ‘Kenya colonial’ , con man and Alinsky comments at National Review right on cue. Can’t help pulling pins from grenades but now and then forgetting to throw them. One can only imagine Tony Blankley’s relief that it’s not his problem any more. Although the alcohol kept in his desk drawer during the Newt days doubtlessly helped back then (he kept good stuff in there, too).

  11. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Newt’s latest verbal spew, the only surprise is that people are surprised.

    Much of what Newt mainstreamed on Faux News yesterday is the line started and pushed by Stephen Schwartz [ ]. Schwartz is of the former Red-Turned- Muslim-Avowed Neocon brand and promotes the ‘triumphalist’ Islamic meme.

    He gets extra traction as a Neocon because he’s a Muslim – we’ve seen it work in a small room. Not just among the right. Supposed mainstream rational Thought Leaders just start to nod. After all, it’s not like they ever thought of Spain having a 13th century until 2 weeks ago.

    Newt also wins a throw because well-intentioned but spineless people like Eugene Robinson, an apparently appointed voice of rational liberalism, constantly prefaces his commentary on Newt’s remarks with ‘You know, Newt is a really bright guy’ or ‘Of course, Newt is smart so . . .’ Another version of the ol’ Premature Flinch Syndrome.

    If all of us had a dime for every time *that* happens . . .

  12. Aldershot says

    @Dr Leo Strauss
    And concerning what issues do you foresee New-New using Boehner as a foil?

    Which Young Turks do you see in the competition.

    Gratuitous aside: Boehner’s always reminded me of Humphrey Bogart; the teeth, the eyes, the over-bite influenced lips.

  13. Dr Leo Strauss says


    Should Boehner somehow fend off the more militant Young Turks and ascend to Speaker, the thought was his tin ear, relative disengagement, lack of visceral political skills, and easily mocked characteristics would be a foil not only for Obama but for the New New Newt, too.

  14. Aldershot says

    “Now, Summer 2010, that inability and refusal to maintain self-discipline are marketable assets. He likely senses that today’s meme-besotted formlessness is a qualitatively different period, politically. A Boehner-led House might well be the best advertisement.”

    Great thought. Twitter, youtube, the blogosphere, Morning Joe cattle call, The View…Based on your description of him, is this profusion of media the Matrix he’s always been missing?

    What do you mean by the Boehner comment? He’s never made a firm impression on me.

  15. says

    Very true about his managerial/administrative deficit disorder. A career-ending problem in the past when other institutions maintained perceived legitimacy.

    Now, Summer 2010, that inability and refusal to maintain self-discipline are marketable assets. He likely senses that today’s meme-besotted formlessness is a qualitatively different period, politically. A Boehner-led House might well be the best advertisement. Even if for 2012 it’s just another Bolero strip tease or last minute lunge.
    Dr Leo Strauss recently posted..Newton Leroy Gingrich – Esquire Gets It Right

  16. rkka says

    That, plus he’s utterly incapable of organizing anything other than a bomb-throwing expedition.

    He’s less capable of governing than Obama is, which is damning indeed.

  17. anxiousmodernman says

    HA. I worked for a non-profit and we got a $3k donation from Newt’s Center for Health Transformation. I was curious what it was all about, so I tried to research it. Couldn’t figure out a damn thing it did besides push a health privatization agenda. I guess it also collected money for Newt Gingrich. What a sham.

    That cookie quote above is very Palin-esque.

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