In his recently published book and in speaking engagements, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich repeatedly warns that President Obama’s “secular, socialist machine” is threatening to destroy America by undermining the Judeo-Christian “values” upon which the country was built. But while Gingrich chastises the supposed erosion of values on the left, his past is tainted by his own contemptible value judgments, including numerous extra-marital affairs, and pressuring a divorce from his first wife while she lay stricken with cancer in a hospital bed.
In a new Esquire profile, Gingrich’s second wife Marianne — whom he cheated on with his current wife, Callista — breaks her twelve year silence on her relationship with Gingrich to reveal a portrait of man who understood the deep hypocrisy of his actions, but simply didn’t care:
He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused.
He’d just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he’d given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values.
The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, “How do you give that speech and do what you’re doing?”
“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.“
Marianne, who was Gingrich’s “closest advisor” during his reign in the 1990s, went on to say that Gingrich “believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected.” But of course, as Gingrich himself demanded when he led a crusade to impeach President Clinton for personal infidelity, politicians’ private lives are inevitably connected to their public ones. Nonetheless, Gingrich has himself admitted to continuing his illicit affair with Callista — 23 years his junior — while simultaneously prosecuting Clinton’s adultery.
Perhaps Gingrich has no qualms about committing the sins he rails against because he doesn’t really believe in what he preaches. Esquire’s John Richardson notes that despite Gingrich’s apocalyptic rhetoric, when encountering radical conservative activists, Gingrich “over and over again…takes the long view and becomes the very soul of probity.” “I wouldn’t be able to describe what his real principles are,” former Republican Rep. Mickey Edwards said of the former speaker. “I never felt that he had any sort of a real compass about what he believed except for the pursuit of power.”