How Damning Is Esquire's Newt Gingrich Profile?

The former Speaker's ex-wife takes center-stage

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If a magazine reporter wrote an 8,000-word profile about you, it might seem flattering. But if that reporter's primary source was your ex-wife—whom you cheated on for six years—that's another story. And that's the setup to the new Esquire profile of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich available online today. In the piece, writer John Richardson depicts Gingrich as both cerebral and incendiary: a man of constructive ideas with a flair for hypocritical demagoguery. It's a timely examination of Gingrich, as speculation of a presidential bid grows and his political influence swells. Bloggers survey the damage following Marianne Gingrich's significant bean-spilling:

  • So Many Unflattering Facts, notices Dan Amira at New York Magazine. Here are his top three:

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 months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

  • A Family-Values Hypocrite  Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly writes:  "Gingrich, for example, haggled over the terms of his divorce from his first wife while she was in the hospital, recovering from uterine cancer surgery. He had already proposed to his second wife before he was divorced from his first... All of this, of course, would be easier to overlook if (a) Gingrich didn't seem entirely serious about running for president in 2012; and (b) Gingrich weren't running around saying things like, 'The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage.'"

  • Damaging–But Not Fatal, writes The Atlantic's Nicole Allan: "Gingrich certainly does not emerge from the profile looking good, but then again, he didn't emerge from his 1990s money laundering scandal and resignation from Congress looking good, either. Richardson's profile is already generating buzz, but ending careers -- probably not."

  • Gingrich Has an Al Gore Problem writes Dave Weigel at Slate:

No, not that Al Gore problem. The 2000 vintage problem, in which operatives mocked Gore -- and got the media to mock Gore -- for embellishing details about his life and resume. Liberals have spent a decade fighting back against this (Jamison Foser, the brainy Media Matters pundit, bears the scares of his work for Gore) and pointing out that, for example, Gore deserved some credit for "taking the initiative in creating the Internet," and that it didn't really matter that he misstated which FEMA official he worked with in the first debate with Bush. If I'm a Republican strategist plotting against Gingrich, and I don't think it's enough to expect his marital history to derail him, I start asking what, exactly, he's been doing with his foundations for the past decade.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.