“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
The speaker wasn’t President John F. Kennedy. Or President Bill Clinton. It was would-be President and “Mr. Family Values” Newt Gingrich.
The date for his riveting confession was March 8, 2011. And the reason for it: He intended to run for President–and wanted to launch a pre-emptive strike on critics who would charge him with being an adulterer and a hypocrite.
“And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them.
“I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness. Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness. I do believe in a forgiving God. And I think most people, deep down in their hearts hope there’s a forgiving God.”
And well he might. He has a lot to be forgiven for.
Perhaps his greatest moment as a hypocrite came while he was Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In 1998, the news broke that President Clinton had been trysting with a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. Gingrich lost no time in telling the nation what a moral disgrace Clinton was.
Of course, he didn’t bother informing the nation that he was well into an extramarital affair of his own.
It was by no means his first. Consider the following:
- While still a 16-year-old junior in high school, Newt Gingrich began an affair with his high school geometry teacher, 23-year-old Jackie Battley, in 1959.
- Gingrich had affairs with numerous campaign volunteers during his first two unsuccessful bids for a House seat from Georgia, in 1974 and 1976, according to multiple sources.
- Anne Manning, then married to another professor at West Georgia, became romantically involved with Gingrich during his 1976 campaign.
- In January, 1980, he met 28-year-old Marianne Ginther. The married congressman proposed to her within weeks, despite the fact that he hadn’t yet filed for a divorce from Jackie.
- In April, 1980, Gingrich told Jackie that he wanted a divorce.
- Gingrich was in such a hurry to divorce Jackie that he personally served her with divorce papers while she lay in a hospital bed, recovering from cancer surgery.
- In 1981, Gingrich married Marianne Ginther.
- By 1984, the marriage was in decline, and the couple regularly spent months at a time apart from each other.
- In 1993, a year before he became Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich met then 28 year-old Callista Bisek.
- Doing his heroic best to lead both a married and a bachelor life, Gingrich was regularly seen with Bisek in Washington.
- In 1997, after a four-year investigation of his campaign financing schemes, the House Ethics Committee reprimanded and fined Gingrich $300,000.
- Following widespread GOP losses in the 1998 mid-term elections, Gingrich resigned from the House in November, 1998.
- In May, 1999, he told Marianne he wanted a divorce.
- During a joint counseling session, “Mr. Family Values” asked her if she would tolerate his ongoing affair with Callista Bisek to preserve their marriage. Marianne refused.
- While still married to Marianne, Gingrich proposed to Callista Bisek.
- Gingrich and Callista were married in August, 2000.
And how does Gingrich explain all this very non-“family values” series of adulterous couplings?
When his former wife, Marianne, asked Gingrich how he could give speeches preaching family values while flagrantly violating his marriage vows, he replied: “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say, and there’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”
Assessing what voters seek in a President, Gingrich told an interviewer on March 8, 2011:
“You want to be able to look into them and understand, do they share my values? Do they know what I’m frightened of? Do they have answers that are real? Are they stable; are they capable of doing something?….
“You watch all of these folks for a while, and because it’s the presidency, they’re in your living room or your kitchen, or wherever you happen to watch TV. And, you get to know them over time.”