Newt Gingrich IS Harcourt Fenton Mudd! January 23, 2012Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Politics.
I had a revelation a few days ago: Newt Gingrich is the “reality” version of Harcourt Fenton Mudd.
Fat, mustachioed, grandiose Harry Mudd was one of Captain Kirk’s most popular adversaries on the original Star Trek. A notorious con artist, Harry abandoned his wife, Stella, and roamed the galaxy smuggling, transporting stolen goods, passing counterfeit money, selling stolen patents, stealing small spacecraft, and similar adventures in grifting and chicanery. The first time he encountered the Enterprise, Mudd was engaged in procuring (“wives” for space miners), dealing in an outlawed substance, and fraud. Throughout his life, Mudd preferred the company of beautiful young women (or beautiful young fembots) over marital fidelity.
Ah, but what does a fat, grandiose Roman Catholic convert who has spoken often and piously on the sanctimony of heterosexual marriage have to do with a notorious criminal? Consider these facts:
- In 1960, at age 16, Newt began a secret affair with Jackie Battley, his high school geometry teacher, who was 7 to 9 years older than himself. He married her on June 19, 1962, days after his graduation and two days after Newt’s 19th birthday. Newt’s parents boycotted the wedding, allegedly because of the age difference. Newt’s adoptive father, Bob Gingrich, said, “[Jackie] certainly seemed to love [Newt]. But I don’t think he was capable at the time of loving anybody more than he loved himself.” Two daughters quickly followed, Kathy, born in 1963, and Jackie, born in 1966.
- In 1974, Newt ran for Congress and lost by 2,770 votes. In 1976, after voters had a chance to get to know him better, Newt ran again and lost by 5,100 votes. (Don’t blame Newt for these losses, though; blame Richard Nixon.)
- In 1976, when Newt was 33, neighbor L.H. “Kip” Carter, who was Gingrich’s campaign treasurer in 1974 and 1976, reported:
“We had been out working a football game — I think it was the Bowdoin game — and we would split up. It was a Friday night. I had Newt’s daughters, Jackie Sue and Kathy, with me. We were all supposed to meet back at this professor’s house. It was a milk-and-cookies kind of shakedown thing, buck up the troops. I was cutting across the yard to go up the driveway. There was a car there. As I got to the car, I saw Newt in the passenger seat and one of the guys’ wives with her head in his lap going up and down. Newt kind of turned and gave me his little-boy smile. Fortunately, Jackie Sue and Kathy were” 10 and 13 years old, respectively.
- In 1977, Newt engaged in an extramarital affair with Anne Manning, a married supporter of his failed 1976 campaign. Manning later told reporters that Newt insisted their affair be limited to blow jobs (only on himself, one presumes) so that Newt could claim he wasn’t sleeping with her.
- In 1978, during Newt’s first successful campaign, Jackie was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and underwent two surgeries. She was 42 to 44 years old at the time; Newt was 35. The cancer was to recur in 1980.
- In 1980, Newt, 37, met Marianne Ginther, 28, and shortly thereafter left Jackie and proposed marriage to Marianne, who knew he was still married to Jackie. During the 1980s, when Newt began claiming that his first marriage had long been troubled, Jackie said, “He can say that we had been talking about [a divorce] for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise.” Jackie continued,
“[Newt] walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls [then ages 17 and 14] came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was [still in a hospital bed] recovering from the surgery . . . To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.”
Jackie’s account has been confirmed by both Kip Carter and by Lee Howell, Newt’s press secretary in 1974 and 1976. According to Kip Carter, Gingrich said of Battley: “She’s not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer.” The final fact of this tawdry little anecdote is that to compel Jackie to agree to the divorce, Newt withheld child support for his teenaged daughters.
- Newt and Jackie were divorced in February 1981. Newt married his mistress Marianne in August 1981.
- In 1983, around the time Newt turned 40, Congressman Gingrich made speeches in response to the affairs of other Congressional members lamenting the moral decline of leadership in America and claiming that the country cannot remain free without moral leaders. He has repeated this theme innumerable times over the decades.
- In May 1988, Newt accepted $105,000 from Republican supporters to promote his book, Window of Opportunity, circumventing both campaign-finance laws and House ethics rules. At the same time, he accused House speaker Jim Wright of much the same offense.
“It was the nakedness of his attack on Speaker Jim Wright of Texas that shocked traditionalists of both parties. Working the press relentlessly all over the country, Gingrich began calling Wright the ‘least ethical Speaker of the 20th century’ [ed. note: HA!] and leaking vague but ominous charges: Was [Wright] involved in the teenage-page scandal? Did [Wright] scam a pension out of the Air Force Reserve? Did he lobby a foreign president on behalf of a Texas oil family? Eventually a few stories got printed and Gingrich passed them out, sparking more stories. A couple of senior Republicans looked into [Newt’s] evidence and told him he didn’t have anything, others looked a second time and told him the same. But Gingrich would not relent.” — John H. Richardson
Newt finally got Wright on failing to report the income of a vanity book, around $60,000, and Wright resigned.
- It was later proven that in the late 1980s, Newt engaged in check-kiting on 22 distinct occasions.
- In 1994, when Newt was 51, he began a clandestine extramarital affair with a Congressional page, Callista Bisek, 23 years his junior and the same age as Newt’s younger daughter, Jackie. That was the same year that Rupert Murdoch offered Newt a $4.5 million advance on a book deal. According to the New York Times, “On Dec. 30, under pressure from Democrats who called the deal inappropriate and Republicans who said it would tarnish his tenure as the new Speaker, Mr. Gingrich announced that he would not accept the $4.5 million advance and would take royalties from sales instead.” I have been unable to track down how well Newt’s book actually did, but I’ll bet it was no $4.5 million, even in grosses for its eventual publisher.
- In 1995, Newt began his term as Speaker of the House by shutting down the government’s highly regarded, independent Office of Technology Assessment. The same tasks once conducted by impartial scientists are still today being conducted by lobbyists and axe-grinders.
- In 1995 and 1996, Newt shut down the federal government, ostensibly because Clinton objected to Republicans’ provisions for eviscerating Medicare, education, the environment, and public health in the 1996 federal budget. In fact, according to CNN U.S. News (Nov. 16, 1995 report), the shutdown occurred because Newt didn’t think he had been assigned a nice enough seat on Air Force One going to Yitzak Rabin’s funeral. White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta called the Gingrich comment “bizarre.” (120K AIFF sound or 120K WAV sound) (The 1996 budget also demanded that the federal government achieve a balanced budget by 2003. In the final irony, Clinton achieved both a balanced budget and a surplus by 2000. Both were quickly destroyed by Republican George W. Bush.)
- Between 1994 and 1998, 84 ethics charges were filed against Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, including money laundering, misuse of charitable donations, check kiting, repeatedly violating federal tax law, repeatedly lying to the House Ethics Committee, submitting “inaccurate, incomplete, and unreliable” testimony, and making “an effort to have the material appear to be nonpartisan on its face, yet serve as a partisan, political message for the purpose of building the Republican party.” Seven years after he had destroyed Jim Wright for a far lesser offense, Congress, voting 395-28, punished Gingrich with the highest fine ever imposed on a Speaker of the House, $300,000. Close to broke, Gingrich borrowed the money from Bob Dole.
- In 1999, Marianne was diagnosed with multiple schlerosis. A month or two later, Newt filed for divorce. “During the court proceedings, Congressman Gingrich refused to participate in the discovery process so that he would not have to disclose any funds that he spent on his mistresses.” During the divorce proceedings, Callista’s role became known. Newt told the court that he and Marianne had an agreement that she would ignore his affairs. Marianne denied this vehemently, but at that time, in 1999, told the court that Newt had asked her for an open marriage, and she had refused. The divorce was eventually settled, and a few weeks later, in August 2000, Newt married the woman who had been his mistress for the previous six years.
- On January 18, 2012, Gingrich offered Sarah Palin a “major role” in the putative 2013 Gingrich administration — an indisputable violation of 18 U.S.C. §599. The penalty is a fine and two years in prison.
Despite Republican claims to the contrary, Marianne Gingrich feels no bitterness toward her ex-husband. I found some wise assessments in various places:
Newt grew up poor, always wanted to be somebody, make a difference, prove himself. That was his vulnerability, do you understand? Being treated important. Which means he was gonna associate with people who would stroke him, and were important themselves. And in that vulnerability, once you go down that path and it goes unchecked, you add to it. Like, ‘Oh, I’m drinking, who cares?’ Then I start being a little whore, ’cause that comes with drinking.
He was impressed easily by position, status, money. He grew up poor and always wanted to be somebody, to make a difference, to prove himself. He has to be historic to justify his life. . . .
Oh, yes, Gingrich is indeed Harry Mudd! Let’s recap:
Early in his campaign for the 2012 GOP nomination, Newt excused his many crimes with this remarkable claim:
“There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
“Patriotism made me do it! It’s not my fault, it’s America’s fault!” I would suggest that Newt’s true passion is not for the United States of America, but rather for Newton Leroy Gingrich. If Gingrich succeeds in attaining the 2012 GOP nomination, I look forward to this slogan: “Gingrich: Restore Dishonor to the White House.”
“She’s not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer.”
Jackie Battley and Newt Gingrich Marriage Profile. Their story is recounted in the PBS documentary “The Long March of Newt Gingrich.”