Thanks to his obstinate doublemindedness when it comes to Robert Mueller, Newt Gingrich is back in the news again. And all I can think about is how this guy just won’t go away.
Let’s just get all the cards on the table right away: it is an absolute impossibility for me to write or even think about Newt Gingrich without feeling a mixture of disbelief, disgust and disdain. For as long as I’ve been semi-cognizant of the political sphere, I’ve always been able to point to him as the embodiment of literally everything I hate about politicians and people in general. His hypocrisy is boundless and his arrogance extraordinary.
To give this thesis—namely, that Gingrich is one of the worst people alive—a workable framework, let’s just see if the former Speaker of the House has at least avoided committing every single one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Bet you can’t guess how this one ends.
Let’s go ahead and turn over the floor to the man himself. Here are just a few of his observations on one of his absolute favorite topics: Newt Gingrich.
In 1985: “I have enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I’m doing it. I am now a famous person. I represent real power.”
In 1992: “Gingrich — primary mission. Advocate of civilization, definer of civilization, teacher of the rules of civilization, leader of the civilizing forces.”
In 1994: “People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz.”
In 1995: “I’m not a natural leader. I’m too intellectual; I’m too abstract; I think too much.”
Also in 1995: “I’m the most seriously professorial politician since Woodrow Wilson.”
In 2011: “I think I’m a transformational figure.”
Also in 2011: “Because I am much like Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, I’m such an unconventional political figure that you really need to design a unique campaign that fits the way I operate and what I’m trying to do.”
Clearly, this is fitting rhetoric for a man who left his Speakership prematurely and in disgrace due to ethics violations, ran a failed presidential campaign and received no place in the Trump administration after months of servile televised surrogacy for our peach-colored president.
In a sense, this may be Gingrich’s defining flaw. His relentless comparison of himself to other major historical figures—Moses, Charles de Gaulle, the Duke of Wellington, Abraham Lincoln are just a few examples—seems to indicate he would really like to possess a sense of timeless importance he really doesn’t have a claim to. The same goes for how he’s conducted himself throughout his political career.
He led the charge against Jim Wright for ethical violations whilst Wright was Speaker of the House, setting himself up for a run for the position. After he secured the Speakership, Gingrich then went on to lead the impeachment crusade against President Bill Clinton for the Lewinski scandal, all while planning to run for president someday himself. Given the fact he resigned from his position due to ethics violations and adultery allegations, it’s pretty apparent his crusade was more about seizing power he wanted than decency. In other words, envy.
Come on, you’re not gonna make me explain this one, are you?
You may be wondering: who are we to judge the carnality of another when all but the saintliest among would be embarrassed if our thoughts on Freud’s favorite subject were projected for the world to see? Isn’t lust a universal sin for all but the most asexual people on the planet?
Well, let’s try a little thought experiment.
Imagine you have a spouse and they have cancer. They’re recovering from their third surgery. Things have been rocky between the two of you. Do you:
A) Realize that life is fragile and the love you two had should reassert itself in your partner’s time of utmost need.
B) Admit there’s no recovering from the wounds of your relationship but realize now might not be the best time to end things and ask if you can have the key to the apartment to grab your stuff.
C) Go to your spouse on their hospital bed and argue about the terms of your divorce, tell them you’re having an affair and then tell one of your employees that this partner isn’t young or good-looking enough to be a president’s partner and, besides, they have cancer. For good measure, you stop paying alimony and child support and your partner turns to the church to provide for your kids.
Well, Gingrich chose C. But we all have our days. Let’s try another thought experiment.
Imagine you chose C in the last thought experiment and wound up marrying the person with whom you were having an affair. After years of marriage, this person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Do you:
A) Learn from your past ethical failure and do your best to reaffirm your love for this new person in their time of utmost need.
B) At least don’t try to break up with this person right after they tell you they’ve got MS. That would be ridiculous.
C) Begin having an affair with another person and then ask your spouse with MS if you can carry on an open marriage so you can continue having raucous sex with another person as your spouse physically deteriorates.
You already know what answer he chose.
While polarization has existed in American politics since the Founders got together to declare independence and write a Constitution, the type of supremely vicious partisanship that’s now become the norm grew out of Gingrich. As Speaker, he did away with decorum and the pretense of cooperation whenever anything didn’t go his way.
Consider this information courtesy of The Nation:
Thanks to his refusal to concede on spending on social services, the government closed for five days in 1995, longer than the previous eight government shutdowns, and for a whopping twenty-one days a year later—the longest shutdown in history. Thanks to Gingrich’s obstinacy, health and welfare services for veterans were curtailed, Social Security checks were delayed, tens of thousands of visa applications went unprocessed and “numerous sectors of the economy” were negatively impacted.
This is the behavior of someone with contempt for anyone who chooses a course of action contrary to theirs. His inborn instinct is to punish, to inflict his wrath on anyone of the sort. It’s arbitrary, vindictive and capricious. And he’s done it over and over again when anyone crosses him.
Well, at least the guy’s not a lobbyist, right? Sure, he was paid $1.6 million by Freddie Mac and went around trying to convince people in D.C. to vote for bills they liked. But they paid him because he was their historian. Sure, Freddie Mac doesn’t have a history department and he just reported to their head of lobbying. But that doesn’t make him a lobbyist!
Nor does the fact he would talk to his friends in Congress about what his friends in the healthcare industry wanted in various health legislation. It’s no big deal his healthcare friends paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars to talk to his Congress friends. Just something friends do. Same goes for the $4.5 million he was offered by media magnate Rupert Murdoch for his book. That was totally unrelated to the fact Congress—under Gingrich’s leadership at the time—were looking over media legislation at the time.
None of this was motivated by greed. None of it at all.
The Pocket Catholic Catechism defines sloth as:
“[T]he desire for ease, even at the expense of doing the known will of God. Whatever we do in life requires effort. Everything we do is to be a means of salvation. The slothful person is unwilling to do what God wants because of the effort it takes to do it. Sloth becomes a sin when it slows down and even brings to a halt the energy we must expend in using the means to salvation.”
In other words, it’s best evidenced by a person not doing any work to better themselves ethically. By this definition, one can be a hard worker—as Gingrich certainly has been in terms of pursuing his own motives—and yet still slothful. If a person spends all their time pursuing personal gratification with sex, money and power and no observable time attempting to be a halfway decent person, they’re a textbook example of sloth.
It also applies on a physical level. If you need more evidence of why Gingrich has failed in this regard, please return to the above section on gluttony.
As much as I admire the words of my boy J. Christ, I hope he’ll forgive me for judging the many putrid specks in this guy’s eye before turning to the plank in mine.
Part of me thinks he—Jesus, that is—would be alright with this. This absolute pustule of a person—Newt Gingrich, that is—has made a career out of legislating morality he has no interest in following himself and is guilty of a host of sins he’d be more than happy to punish the rest of the world for. In this sense, the lizard-named rastabout is something of a modern-day Pharisee.
Consider the words of the Nazarene in Matthew 23:3-4 in regard to the moral majoritarians of his own day: “For they preach but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move a finger.” It’s worth mentioning Christ’s righteous screed against this type of hypocrisy also includes such delightful insults as “You travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” and “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”
This is, after all, the man who was having an affair with his own aide while leading the charge against Bill Clinton during the Lewinski scandal. For what it’s worth, I find some sadistic satisfaction in the idea that, if there’s a hell, these two will both be cursed with each other’s presence amongst the flames. To add insult to injury, neither man will have any wives to cheat on there either. Unfortunately for Mr. Clinton specifically, nor will he have a staff of imprisoned slaves to do his bidding in Gehenna as they did in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion.
But back to Gingrich. Hypocrisy obviously extends like wildfire throughout Washington, but we should be thankful to this Chaucerian caricature of a man for providing us, in one handily packaged personality, all the deepest moral failings it is possible for one human being to possess. Kudos to him for living a life so vile it could serve as an object lesson in one of Aesop’s fables. If this recent Catholic convert is more honest and penitent with his priest than he’s ever been with the American people, I imagine his poor Father must have a hard time interrupting his blowhard, self-aggrandizing, you-wouldn’t-believe-who-I-just-slept-with confessionals to insist on using the bathroom, since it’s already been four hours.