Esquire's Juicy Newt Gingrich Profile

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Jose Luis Magana / AP

With Republicans out of power in Congress and the White House for the first time since 1994, some have been looking to the last person to lead them out of the political wilderness, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, as a potential second-time savior. This time, though, he would be running for president, and he's been doing what contenders do: commenting on national issues and speaking to the party faithful who dominate the primaries.

Gingrich is certainly a savvy political strategist, but he has some serious political liabilities. This is a man, after all, who was carrying on an affair with a young aide while pursuing an impeachment of the president for the same thing. Today Esquire is up with a fabulous profile of Gingrich in all of his contradictions: his dark musings with nasty culture-war overtones, his confounding embrace of some big-government interventions, his family-values rhetoric, and his unusual marital history.

And it exposes how some of Gingrich's demands for fantastical goals cannot realistically be achieved by the means he proposes. Case in point: Gingrich says President Obama should effectuate a regime change in Iran through tightened sanctions and funding for dissidents. Most Iran experts think the U.S. actually deligitimizes the domestic opposition by supporting them. And if sanctions could topple dangerous Middle Eastern regimes, then why did Gingrich say they were insufficient to deal with Saddam Hussein?

Esquire's John H. Richardson put his access to Gingrich to good use, but by far the most damning material comes from Gingrich's second wife, Marianne Gingrich, whom he left for the aforementioned aide. Gingrich had previously left his first wife, Jackie, for Marianne. Here's the beginning of their relationship, in her telling:

At first, she had no idea that the wife he was divorcing was actually his high school geometry teacher, or that he went to the hospital to present her with divorce terms while she was recovering from uterine cancer and then fought the case so hard, Jackie had to get a court order just to pay her utility bills. Gingrich told her the story a little at a time, trusting her with things that nobody else knew—to this day, for example, the official story is that he started dating Jackie when he was eighteen and she was twenty-five. But he was really just sixteen, she says.

The whole story is well worth a read. One quibble: Richardson reports, "This year he has raised as much money as Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee combined." While technically true, that is an oversimplification. As NEWSWEEK's Daniel Stone recently explained, not all dollars are created equal in the world of political fundraising. "Don't be fooled by the big number," Stone wrote. "Gingrich has a 527 group as well as a political-action committee, and the 527 can only advocate for issues, not people." This is an important distinction becasuse it is the money you share with downballot candidates for their midterm reelection bids that earns their loyalty when you need their support in the primaries. Even so, Stone acknowledges, "Gingrich's total treasure chest does show that voters are willing to open their wallets in his name."

Esquire's Juicy Newt Gingrich Profile | U.S.