This is a slight update and repost of an April, 2010 Open Salon piece.
* * * *
The time may have finally arrived for God to at least start thinking about taking an early retirement.
When Newt Gingrich was asked if he would seek the presidency in 2012 he smugly replied, "That will be up to God, and the American people."
The American people have a proven ability to make poor presidential choices, but if God is willing to help Newt Gingrich become President of the United States, he either has a very twisted sense of humor or he's completely lost his omnipotent mind.
Either way, he's got to go.
* * * *
Human Rights Watch says that the Northern Vanni area of Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world, but they've obviously never stood between Newt Gingrich and a TV camera.
* * * *
Almost anything can happen between now and the Iowa Caucuses but the current 2012 GOP presidential hopeful list is sorely lacking anyone who comes even close to measuring up to the gold standard that Ronald Reagan set.
Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich do not conjure up memories of the iconic (and highly overrated) 40th President.
Gingrich might be the smartest player on this "Grapefruit League" roster (with the possible exception of Huntsman) but if his brain power wasn't strong enough to enable him to keep his job as the first GOP House Speaker since 1954, why should we send him to the Oval Office?
Gingrich will run for President if it's God's will.
Many suspect that the narcissistic Gingrich has no intention of getting into the race, but merely toys with the idea of a White House bid to keep him booked on FOX News and Meet the Press.
For the former history professor, his past is his political Achilles' heel. His life-long desire to be elected President will never happen, unless the American voters completely ignore a career filled with incompetence, serial adultery, and unsavory divorces.
* * * *
Those that can't do, teach, and nobody personifies this adage more than former House Speaker and history professor, Newton Leroy Gingrich.
Gingrich is at his best when he is a backbencher or a FOX News commentator, free to shoot off his filter-free mouth without fear of negative voter reaction, relentless media scrutiny, or a disciplined Democratic challenger.
Conversely, he's at his worst when he actually has to govern and lead, when every ill-conceived utterance has real-world consequences. His single-minded approach to GOP dominance led to a stunning takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994, but by 1998 the complexities of leading the House, revolt among his minions, and living in Bill Clinton's formidible shadow, led to his political downfall.
Is Gingrich a Narcissist or Just a Typical Politician?
The label "narcissist," much like "passive-aggressive" and "ADD," are clichéd terms that don't always reflect the true makeup of the labeled person. So is Gingrich truly narcissistic or is he "just a little full of himself?"
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, narcissism is a personality disorder defined by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy."
While the vast majority of elected officials are grandiose, and the very nature of running for public office would seem to require a need for admiration, a true lack of empathy is not a trait that most people possess. Newt Gingrich's personality overflows with all three elements.
Gingrich and Grandiosity.
Gingrich proclaimed to The Washington Post in 1985. "I have an enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I'm doing it. Oh, this is just the beginning of a 20-or-30-year movement. I'll get credit for it. As a historian, I understand how histories are written. My enemies will write histories that dismiss me and prove I was unimportant. My friends will write histories that glorify me and prove I was more important than I was. And two generations or three from now, some serious, sober historian will write a history that sort of implies I was whoever I was."
Earlier, when asked if he was considering a run for the White House in 2012, Gingrich said, "Callista (third and current wife) and I will look seriously and we'll probably get our family totally engaged, including our two grandchildren, probably in January, 2011. We'll look seriously at whether or not we think it's necessary to do it. And if we think it's necessary we'll probably do it. And if it isn't necessary we probably won't do it."
So, in his own humble words, if he is the only one who can save the country he'll step up to the plate.
Gingrich's Need for Admiration.
This particular personality trait is quite common in Washington DC, and Gingrich is no exception. Anyone who chooses a profession that requires you to stand for reelection every two, four, or six years is, by default, a person who needs, craves, and must have admiration... at least from 51% of their voters. So for this he gets a pass.
Gingrich's Lack of Empathy.
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where Newt truly shines. This is where his naked ambition takes precedence over everything else in his life, especially those inconvienent and pesky wives.
The story of Newt's first divorce would seem to disqualify him for higher office and if that's not enough, the story of his second divorce, less widely known, should finish him off.
Sorry About Your Cancer but Can We Talk About Alimony?
Gingrich famously visited his wife Jackie, one day after she had cancer surgery, to discuss the terms of their upcoming divorce. Before filing for divorce Gingrich confided to a friend, "She's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a President. And besides, she has cancer."
Gingrich Has Affair With His Secretary During Clinton Impeachment.
In an interview with Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, Gingrich admitted that he cheated on his second wife, Marianne Gingrich, the woman he cheated with while he was married to first wife Jackie. This was happening while he led the effort to impeach President Clinton.
Gingrich said, "The honest answer is yes. There are times that I have fallen short of my own standards. There's certainly times when I've fallen short of God's standards." (Okay God, were you listening to this crap?)
Gingrich is now married to his former secretary and may or may not be cheating on her.
The Rise and Fall of Speaker Gingrich.
In 1994, on the heels of the failed "Hillary Care," and led by Newt Gingrich, the GOP took over the House of Representatives and Mr. Gingrich became the first GOP Speaker of the House since 1954. A Republican star was born... but the bright light faded fast.
Dozens of true-blue conservatives were elected to the House in the 1994 sweep, but shortly after they assumed power they started to become disillusioned with the new Speaker.
During Gingrich's tenure as Speaker he was charged with eighty-four ethics violations. All but one of them was eventually dropped but Gingrich agreed to pay a $300,000.00 fine, becoming the first Speaker in history to be disciplined for ethics violations.
By the end of 1995, budget negotiations between Gingrich and Clinton fell apart and many government agencies were shut down. Gingrich, while pointing fingers at President Clinton for the fiasco, ended up on the receiving end of most of the blame.
Gingrich was widely ridiculed when he was perceived to have let the government shut down partly because President Clinton made him exit from the rear of Air Force One, after a return flight from Yitzhak Rabin's funeral.
Gingrich, in a moment of ill-advised candor, admitted that Clinton's "snub" was partially responsible for his decision to let the budgets expire.
Former GOP Congressman Tom Delay wrote, "He (Gingrich) told a room full of reporters that he forced the shutdown because Clinton had rudely made him and Bob Dole sit at the back of Air Force One...Newt had been careless to say such a thing, and now the whole moral tone of the shutdown had been lost. What had been a noble battle for fiscal sanity began to look like the tirade of a spoiled child..The revolution, I can tell you, was never the same."
Gingrich's 2012 opponents will make sure that this famous "Daily News" front page will resurface before the Iowa Caucuses.
And the revolution never was the same.
In 1997 DeLay along with Dick Armey, Bill Paxon, and others, led a behind-the-scenes revolt with the intention of ousting Gingrich. The plan backfired, but further weakened the already struggling Speaker.
When the GOP lost seats in the 1998 midterm elections, the first time that the party out of the White House lost seats in an off year election in almost 200 years, Gingrich's fate was sealed. Even though he was easily re-elected to the House, he resigned from the Speaker position and his Congressional seat.
The smart and ambitious Mr. Gingrich proved no match for the smarter and more ambitious Bill Clinton.
Public Has Appention Span of a Gnat.
Newt's got the gift of gab. He also has, or at least gives the impression of having, an encyclopedic knowledge of all things wonky. In an issues oriented debate this would seem to give Gingrich a clear advantage over Palin, Huckabee, and to a lesser extent Romney and Pawlenty.
But elections are often weighted more towards issues like entitlement (Bush), associations with radical preachers, rumors of a foreign birth (Obama) possessing a hair-trigger temper (McCain), or sleeping with your secretary during the Clinton impeachment hearings.
Most Americans forgot or never knew about Gingrich's sleazy ways, but if he becomes a serious contender for the 2012 GOP nomination, the other presidential hopefuls will gladly refresh our faded memories.
And as flawed as top-tier candidates Romney, Palin, Huckabee, and Pawlenty might be, none of them seem to have looming sex scandals.
Gingrich Still a Flamethrower.
Gingrich still likes his hyperbole.
Gingrich said, "The most radical president in American history has now thrown down the gauntlet to the American people: 'I run a machine. I own Washington and there's nothing you can do about it.'"
Gingrich urged his fellow Republicans to stop what he called Obama's "secular, socialist machine."
Gingrich could distance himself from Sarah Palin if he avoided nonsensical rhetoric like this, but reasoned, thoughtful remarks don't get you a seat on Sean Hannity's TV show or speaking gigs at Tea Party rallies.
* * * *
If God does exist, and he has a hand in the selection process of world political leaders, he has, at best, a very spotty record.
Sure, he can brag about George Washington, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Mahatma Gandhi, but how does he answer for Atilla the Hun, Idi Amin, Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Osama bin Laden?
Newt Gingrich doesn't belong on either end of that spectrum, but God, for our sake, please make sure that this guy’s gift of gab isn’t able to convince 51% of the electorate that he should move to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.And God, if for some reason Mr. Gingrich does become the nation’s 45th President, may I humbly suggest that you try your hand at bocce ball?