December 23, 2011

"Newt was a solitary boy whose extreme nearsightedness made it extremely difficult for him to recognize people until he was about 12..."

I am a jaded blogger whose extreme fussiness about writing and psychoanalyzing makes it extremely difficult for me to believe that the extreme overuser of the word "extreme," Gail Sheehy, has actually written a fine article about the extremely weird and painful childhood of the man who might have been called "Newt the McPherson," after the "big, brawling man" who impregnated his mother when she was 16, but who acquired the last name of the "bar-fighting bread-truck driver" who married her shortly thereafter.
From heroes in history books and cowboy movies [young Newt Gingrich] extracted idealizations of himself. It was in the darkened theater of the mind, the local cheese box of a movie theater in Hummelstown, that he had his awakening, “a moment where I realized, I can be a leader,” he said.

He would watch John Wayne kill the bad guys four or five times in a row and go home to try aping the laconic lope of the 6-foot-4 actor. This was not easy for a short, pudgy boy. Nevertheless, he said, “I imprinted John Wayne … as my model of behavior. I was a 50-year-old at 9.”

When Newt dared, at 15, to break the old man’s curfew of 11 p.m., Bob Gingrich recalled, with an intimidating pantomime, how he “grabbed him by the lapels and I smashed him against the wall. Then I dropped him. He didn’t do it again.”
Yikes. Read the whole thing, if you can.

35 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

You're a jaded blogger.

Newt was a solitary boy.

I'm a wandering commenter.

Who's on deck?

The Crack Emcee said...

The only artwork hanging on my wall is a painting of John Wayne.

Wise up, people:

Some of us aren't playing,...

rhhardin said...

whose extreme nearsightedness made it extremely difficult..

I'd go with acutely difficult.

MadisonMan said...

Very interesting read. Thanks.

Pogo said...

More interesting is the absence of a similar article about Obama, who remains a cipher, save for Ayer's fiction.

Cute throwing in the speculation about Newt possibly being nuts, excused as non-speculation.

Where are the articles about Obama's father, about whom he could only dream, much as he slept around and ultimately left his mom alone?

pm317 said...

Pogo said...

More interesting is the absence of a similar article about Obama, who remains a cipher, save for Ayer's fiction.
----------------

Yes. All his significant relatives dead. Even his grandma dying just before the significant election! Is he really who he says he is?

About Newt, interesting that articles like this didn't come out as he was steeply climbing in the polls. Consider how they went after Cain -- he had it coming from both sides, R and D.

ricpic said...

"...the darkened theater of the mind..."

What crappy prose.

Lucien said...

Well, the moral is that if you are a 15 year old boy breaking curfew, don't do it while wearing anything with lapels.

Writ Small said...

The condition (manic depression) is inherited in about 80 percent of cases. I asked Gingrich if he thought he had a genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder. He didn’t blink. He said he didn’t know, then applauded the special powers of leaders who are thought to have been bipolar.

This made me wonder just what Coburn and the other house members circa 1993 experienced.

DADvocate said...

Those were more brutal times back then. I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood with professionals, doctors, lawyers, professors, Indian chiefs. I can give you a surprisingly long list of incidents similar to the curfew incident. And, those are only the ones I know about.

In practice, it's unethical for a psychiatrist or psychologist to diagnose someone without seeing them. Beware of those who give "opinions" and amateurs.

That said, I'm not a Newt supporter.

Beta Rube said...

I won der if we'll read stories about Mittens being traumitized at the age of 4 when being fitted for his first tuxedo.

Ann Althouse said...

"The only artwork hanging on my wall is a painting of John Wayne."

More evidence of my theory that you do have a cult that you, for all your anti-cultism, belong to. It's a cult of Alpha Masculinity. You preach it, you adhere to it, you proselytize.

If you resist looking critically at yourself in this regard, it will be more evidence that your devotion really is cultish.

Think about it!

Cheryl said...

Wow. His background sounded a whole lot like Clinton's, and Obama's, too.

Paddy O said...

Was he born in a log cabin too?

Pogo said...

"His background sounded a whole lot like Clinton's, and Obama's, too."

Except that the press was actually able to talk to people that actually knew Clinton and Gingrich in the past.

Obama never existed, or at least, no one ever seems to have met him prior to Chicago, so the only proof of his background story is Ayer's paean.

Paddy O said...

Oh great, I didn't see the next post... now I have to explain. It's not about cabin spreads.

More like the 19th century obsession with log cabin births for presidents, which symbolized they were born in hard circumstances and struggled as youths, even if they were wealthy industrialists by the time they ran for President.

Now, we don't have log cabins but we instead have mommy and daddy issues. Gotta connect with the Boomers!

Paddy O said...

Thirty years from now a candidate will talk about how hard a time he had growing a mustache and had to shop at real thrift stores, all in order to appeal to late middle aged Gen Yer hipsters.

WV: ulfender. Don't know what it would be, but it's especially fun to pronounce in a over-dramatic German accent.

Tank said...

I identify with the part about not seeing. I'm 20/400, but did not start wearing glasses until I was about 12.

What an eye opener that was.

I remember seeing stars for the first time at that age. Before that I never knew what people were talking about at night when they discussed constellations, etc.

And that's correct about recognizing people.

Ann Althouse said...

LOL @ Lucien.

Ann Althouse said...

"His background sounded a whole lot like Clinton's..."

Yeah, note the part at the end of the article:

"In an interview with Marianne in Esquire, [Gingrich's] former wife revealed that Clinton called Gingrich one night and asked him to come to the White House immediately. The president laid out his case, according to Marianne: “You’re a lot like me.” Whatever transpired in that conversation, from that day to the midterm elections Gingrich took a back seat in bashing the president. He was still reeling from the unprecedented ethics censure his colleagues in the House had handed down the year before, when five Republicans went down in 1998, and Gingrich was virtually forced out as speaker by his Republican members, and he resigned from Congress."

Clinton knew what he was and used that knowledge to play him.

Psychedelic George said...

When he was a boy, people thought he was lazy.

He made pegs for his mothers coffin when he was 9.

He was the leader of a gang of toughs.

His father, uncle, and cousins were mentally ill.

His father left for months, leaving him with a 20-year-old cousin. He was hungry, ill-clothes, and, by his own admission, "pitiful."

Lincoln

edutcher said...

History begs to differ.

Newt dragged Willie kicking and screaming and sulking and pouting and sticking his lower lip out into budget and welfare reform, but he did it.

Oh, and BTW, Willie was, and is, an amoral, delusional sociopath.

So who would you trust?

Freeman Hunt said...

He boasted of having shown no physical affection to Newt. “You don’t do that with boys. I didn’t even do it with my girls,” he said, referring to Newt’s three half-sisters. He looked at his wife. “When was the last time I told you I loved you?”

“That’s a good question,” Kit said.

“If I tell you once, that’s all that’s necessary.”


Yow!

And...
There was more than a hint of rivalry when the little-schooled elder Gingrich volunteered the information that the bookish Newt was “only a runner-up as a National Merit Scholar. He wasn’t an A student … he wasn’t the class pride.” He added, with no sign of regret, that “some people thought I was too rough with Newt.”

This is the dad who came after the biological dad who basically abandoned him.

#dadfail No wonder the guy has had relationship problems. He's probably spent his entire adulthood seeking external validation.

Jose_K said...

So he is being mocked for his disability?
What next, they will mock the Special Olympics?Ohh.. It was already done...

William said...

If those same pathogens had made Gingrich a liberal, this would be an inspiring story of how the human spirit triumphs over adversity. I'm no fan of Gingrich, but it's unfair to claim that his policies and politics are the result of bad parenting and a bilpolar disorder. The screwed up domestic life of Gingrich (and Clinton) have something to do with their chaotic childhoods, but tax policies and budget deals come from a different part of the brain......I don't see Gingrich as a completely sympathetic figure, but his personality, even though it's held together with chicken wire and paper mache, has been sufficiently durable to achieve wealth, fame, and success. Like Clinton, he knows how to do some things right and how to get away with other things. I don't think it's fair to characterize him as a manic depressive. If he was going to crash and burn, it would have happened long ago.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I identify with the part about not seeing. I'm 20/400, but did not start wearing glasses until I was about 12.



Ditto, except at about age 10 for the glasses.

I was amazed at the stars, leaves on trees instead of blobs, wires between the telephone poles!!

At age 12 I decided that glasses were just too ugly to wear at school. AND they really were, the rhinstone cat eyed glasses so I went without at school. I learned to recognize people by their walks and memorized what colors and clothing they wore in the morning. When I didn't recognize people, they probably thought I was stuck up.

When my parents figured out what I was doing, I got contact lenses.

I'm over the vanity part now and just wear glasses. I must put my glasses down at night in the same place otherwise I can't find them in the morning.

Sounds like Newt had some pretty bleak childhood memories and a pretty tough upbringing. SO? Many people did and it made them stronger for it. Obama had, we guess some pretty bad upbringing experiences, where is the MSM psycological angst about that. No where. Instead, let's put Newt under a microscope.....look.....SQUIRREL!!

Adversity makes you reach for a higher level of achievment....or....it breaks you.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ann Althouse,

More evidence of my theory that you do have a cult that you, for all your anti-cultism, belong to. It's a cult of Alpha Masculinity. You preach it, you adhere to it, you proselytize.

I respect masculinity in a culture that despises it. Not the same thing.

If you resist looking critically at yourself in this regard, it will be more evidence that your devotion really is cultish.

Think about it!


I don't have to think about it - I study cultism and know it well - while you, on the other hand, teach religion and the constitution but still can't grasp the basics of "belief."

When are you going to, publicly, think about it?

Lionheart said...

Tagging a theory with "Think about it!" is bit insulting usually.

EMD said...

Or we all could Think, think about it.

Peano said...

Gail Sheehy, has actually written a fine article ....

Gail Sheehy has never written a fine anything.

Crunchy Frog said...

He said, "Son it's gonna hurt me more than it hurts you"
But somehow I couldn't help but have my doubts
'Cause I'd seen my own dear brothers crawl back in the house
Each time they called the old man out

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

It's a nice link. Saying "Yikes" seems a bit partisan. Is this what corporate politics is like, 'Now when he come in you may notice...'? I appreciate you're taking Churchill down a notch since I wonder what would have happened if the British Expeditionary force hadn't offered itself up for immolation in 1917. Back to the article, Goodwin can't make a diagnosis but he can write it in 184 point type visible in red from 20 feet away. I don't think Newt's going anywhere but he has seemed creative. That $1.4 million from Fannie Mae is going to resonate with his refusal to return it and the accusation of grandiosity.

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Overall, the biggest fault reported here may be in being like Big Newt, his biological father. 'Our Newt' seems to make agreements and not stick to them in a way similar to the biological father in relation to his son, for instance selling him for 4 child support payments, not being available later.

Wally Kalbacken said...

'Our Newt' seems to make agreements and not stick to them in a way similar to the biological father in relation to his son, for instance selling him for 4 child support payments, not being available later.

Yeah, as opposed to someone who seems acceptable, at least to the media, like Bill Clinton, who has only been married once!

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

@Wally

"Gingrich repeatedly stunned his House colleagues in the Republican leadership when he was involved in lengthy negotiations over a major policy proposal and agreed to every detail, only to go public and pull the rug out from under them."

It was the above from Sheehy's article that I was referring to.