Slate's Jacob Weisberg has uncovered and published a trove of scribbled notes now-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich wrote for himself around 1994, leading up to his election as Speaker of the House of Representative the following year. So what was on Newt's mind as he was drafting his "Contract with America" and preparing to snatch Congress back from the clutches of Democrats? Well, he saw himself as the ringleader of his party's effort to "civilizing humanity and recivilizing all Americans," as he wrote -- presumably because Americans had been de-civilized since Democrats began controlling government in 1992. That's a literal ringleader, as Gingrich depicts himself as the so-called "system designer" at the center of "hub of concentric circles featuring his staff, key supporters, the media, constituents, and the public" in the note shown above.
Yes, they're are difficult to read (and fortunately Slate provide a helpful Newt-to-English translation) but the hubris in them is at times quite clear. The notes depict Gingrich as an ambitious if somewhat egotistical leader with big ideas -- even if those ideas appeared half-baked the notes. That half-bakedness, of course, is forgivable since these were never meant to be published. But it's still funny imagining Gingrich fashioning himself as a savior of civilization, as he does in this transcribed note.
—Advocate of civilization
—Definer of civilization
—Teacher of the rules of civilization
—Arouser of those who form civilization
—Organizer of the pro-civilization activists
—Leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces.
They're also a lesson for those who would ever run for president to never ever leave any of their absent-minded doodles lying around lest they be found by some blogger. This list of Gingrich's professional and personal goals for example is a bit revealing. With vaguely phrased C-suite-speak aims like "Design[ing] general planning—management system and set up quarterly review at a general level," maybe Gingrich would have been better suited for business than for politics. And we really hope "recreational renewal with Marianne," his now ex-wife, is a euphemism for what we suspect it is in the sixth item.
Priorities to 6/30/93
1. Articulate the vision of civilizing humanity and recivilizing all Americans (TASK 1)
2. Design general planning—management system and set up quarterly review at a general level (task 2, 9, 10, 11)
3. Build a House republican Team committed to professionalizing the House GOP and to becoming a majority and in particular building a team among the leadership and with our active House member patrons (TASKS, 6)
4. Building a volunteer-staff Team in the 6th Distr. (task 7)
5. Define, plan and begin to organize the movement for civilization and the effort to transform our welfare state into an opportunity society to help people achieve productivity, responsibility, and safety so they can achieve prosperity and freedom so they can pursue happiness (task 3, 5, 8)
6. Diet, exercise, recreational renewal with Marianne (task 9)
7. Begin to plan and develop the intellectual—educational effort to sustain in the vision of civilizing humanity and recivilizing America (task 4)
Though Gingrich certainly comes off as ambitious in the scribblings above, when laying out his 25-year plan in 1992, he didn't see himself becoming president, at least according to one note. Instead he saw himself authoring a "series of books" and "possibly a series of courses with audio and videotape" on "the history of Freedom, prosperity and safety,” among other things.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.