Did you know that that a plausible case can be made that, as of last night, Newt Gingrich was the front-runner in the Republican 2012 presidential race?
As 2012 approaches, he has raised as much money as all of his potential rivals combined and sits atop the polls for the Republican presidential nomination.
If Gingrich, who appears to have been not distinguishably different from a repulsive creep for most of his adult life, was serious about his presidential ambitions, he should have first made his peace with his second wife, Marianne.
That’s the one whom he had already proposed to before he was divorced from his first wife. The one to whom he confessed, in 1999, soon after Marianne had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, that he was having an affair with a woman who was in Marianne’s apartment “eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed.” Confessed to the affair, said it was going to continue, and asked Marianne to “tolerate” it.
(His first wife, Jackie was the one whom he asked for a divorce while she was in the hospital recuperating from cancer surgery. Jackie, by the way, was his former high school geometry teacher, and he married her when he was 19 and she was 26, but let’s not go there.)
In case, you were wondering, yes, this is the very same Newt Gingrich who liked to go around piously making statements like:
The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage.
But back to Marianne. Yes, Newt really should have made his peace with her before he got too heavily invested in his 2012 presidential bid. “Back in the 1990s, she told a reporter she could end her husband’s career with a single interview.” And she now seems to have given that interview. To Esquire, who published it this morning.
It’s a long, long article. Some quick excerpts from page 1:
She was married to Newt Gingrich for eighteen years, all through his spectacular rise and fall … This is the first time she’s talked about what happened, and she has a case of the nerves but also an air of liberation about her. … You might be inclined to think of what she says as the lament of an abandoned wife, but that would be a mistake. There is shockingly little bitterness in her, and she often speaks with great kindness of her former husband.
She says she should have seen the red flags. “He asked me to marry him way too early. And he wasn’t divorced yet. I should have known there was a problem.”
Within weeks or months?
And he did the same thing to her eighteen years later, with Callista Bisek, the young congressional aide who became his third wife. “I know. I asked him. He’d already asked her to marry him before he asked me for a divorce. Before he even asked.”
He told you that?
“Yeah, he wanted to — “
And here’s what most people are going to regard as the juicy part, the part that Newt will be dodging questions about for a good long while (all the way at the end, on page 8):
But Marianne was having problems of her own. After going to the doctor for a mysterious tingling in her hand, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Early in May, she went out to Ohio for her mother’s birthday. A day and a half went by and Newt didn’t return her calls, which was strange. They always talked every day, often ten times a day, so she was frantic by the time he called to say he needed to talk to her.
He wanted to talk in person, he said.
“I said, ‘No, we need to talk now.’ ”
He went quiet.
“There’s somebody else, isn’t there?”
She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?
She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. ” ‘I can’t handle a Jaguar right now.’ He said that many times. ‘All I want is a Chevrolet.’ ”
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.”
Like I said once before: Chewt, ya, Newt!