The profile of Newt Gingrich in the September issue of Esquire is a doozy. Writer John H. Richardson got Gingrich's second wife, Marianne (he's now on his third), to spill all sorts of insights about the character of her ex-husband, and oh, are they juicy. The portrait that emerges of Gingrich is one of an emotional toddler, a person who even describes himself as a 4-year-old. "I wake up in the morning and I know that somewhere there's a cookie," Gingrich says. "I don't know where it is but I know it's mine and I have to go find it."
And indeed, Gingrich takes whatever he wants and is not mature enough to be honest about his transgressions. Former congressman Mickey Edwards tells Richardson, "I wouldn't be able to describe what his real principles are. I never felt that he had any sort of a real compass about what he believed except for the pursuit of power." But that's not even the most damning bit of the profile. That comes when Marianne talks about how Newt left her:
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."
Photograph of Newt Gingrich by Saul Loeb/AFP.