The Ten Most Unflattering Things in Esquire’s Newt Gingrich Profile

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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With Newt Gingrich seemingly laying the groundwork for a presidential run — or at least pretending to — it's about time to reexamine the life and philosophy of this fascinating figure in American politics. Thankfully, Esquire is out with a revelatory, engaging profile of the former speaker of the House and his position as the"philosopher king" of the Republican Party, a man who vacillates between anti-Obama hysteria ("The secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did") and principled disagreements with tea partiers over immigration ("People who come here overwhelmingly come to work") and income taxes ("None of the Founding Fathers would have said that George Washington, owning Mount Vernon as the largest landowner, should pay the same tax as somebody who was a cobbler"). While the article definitely gives Gingrich credit — for his intellectualism, for his success at balancing the budget — there's plenty in there that won't help his image. Herewith, the ten most unflattering things in the profile.

10. He lives his life based on weird metaphors about cookies:


"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."

9. Nobody buys the movies he releases through the group Citizens United.


According to Bruce Nash of Nash Information Services, a company that tracks movie sales, these films — some directed by a man best known for a TV show called Bikes from Hell — are spectacular failures. "The most popular appears to be Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny, which is most likely selling a couple thousand copies a year through major retailers. Rediscovering God in America sells perhaps two thousand units."

8. His health-care group doesn't do what it claims it does:


Then there's the Center for Health Transformation, another group Gingrich runs. On its Web site, it describes its work in Georgia as a model for all its efforts and says the "cornerstone" of its work is a group called Bridges to Excellence. But CHT "had zero role in creating Bridges to Excellence," says François de Brantes, the group's CEO. CHT helped with organization for one year and hasn't been associated with them since 2008. The CHT Web site also singles out the "Healthy Georgia Diabetes and Obesity Project" as its major diabetes effort, but that was news to the American Diabetes Association. "We were not able to find any information about this," says the ADA's communications director, Colleen Fogarty. "The person that was in contact with them is no longer here." It turns out that the CHT is a for-profit outfit that charges big health insurers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield up to $200,000 a year for access to the mind of Newt Gingrich.

7. He started to act crazy after being fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee — "yelling at people," "slurping his food" during meetings, and just not "functioning."

6. He steals lines from his ex-wife and passes them off as his own:


"[Current wife] Callista and I kid that I'm four and she's five and therefore she gets to be in charge, because the difference between four and five is a lot."....

[Ex-wife Marriane's] eyes go wide when she hears his line about being four to Callista's five. "You know where that line came from? Me. That's my line. That's what I told him."

She pauses for a moment, turning it over in her mind. Then she shakes her head in wonder. "I'm sorry, that's so freaky."

5. He has no "real principles" except the "pursuit of power," according to former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards, who's known Newt for 30 years.

4. He doesn't care about being a hypocrite: After Marianne questioned how he could give a speech on family values while carrying on an affair with his decades-younger aide (who became his third wife), Newt replied, "It doesn't matter what I do. 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."

3. He wanted Marianne to just "tolerate" his affair, "an offer she refused."

2. Regardless, he then announced that, though he'd been having an affair for six years, "he and Marianne had an understanding," a claim Marianne denies. "Of course not," she says. "It's silly."

1. He delivered divorce papers to his first wife — his former high-school teacher — while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer. He broke things off with his second wife seven eight months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Newt Gingrich: The Indispensable Republican [Esquire]