Newt Gingrich and a Different Kind of Bombshell

Editor’s Note: At the time of this publishing, Newt has just been declared the winner of the South Carolina primary. – amanda

By Maria Padhila

Thursday, a woman made an announcement that had all kinds of people on the Internets and in conversation buzzing about polyamory.

Here’s what it was: A friend who is a lesbian, polyamorous woman is getting married. To a man.

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

It’s not for the health insurance. They just want to get married. She made a typically funny, perceptive, self-deprecating comment about her plight on Facebook, and one of the reassuring comments in a long chain said it all:

“Marriage is ever-evolving. Ask any Republican.”

Her response: “Let’s tell the government: Keep your monogamy out of my marriage!”

My friend’s engagement almost overshadowed the news about Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich: his second wife, Marianne, gave an interview on ABC’s Nightline detailing how, when he had told her about the affair he was having with a young woman, he asked if they could stay married yet see other people. “Callista doesn’t care,” he said about his lover.

His wife did. That isn’t how she defines a marriage, so she said no.

The next day, he gave a talk to a Republican women’s group on “The Demise of American Culture.”

Let’s just say this right up front, so I won’t have to keep repeating it as things get weirder and weirder: I am not making this stuff up.

The request was immediately labeled as Newt Gingrich asking for an “open marriage,” and so it has continued for the past few days. Some writers even began referring to him as “Newt ‘open marriage’ Gingrich,” probably to up their chances on the search engines. (Which might happen here, too, but that’s not my intention.) By evening, bloggers and media were posting frantically about open marriage, non-monogamy, “monogamish,” swinging and polyamory. Sites were digging around for anything they’d done in the past few years on any of these topics, creating updates and links.

Portland, Oregon’s always poly-friendly East Bay Express declared that this “News from the campaign trail this morning convinced us that this alternative lifestyle isn’t just the domain of outcasts, Burners, and experimentalists; it’s also favored by an establishment GOP candidate.”

And that evening, the GOP debate opened with the “open marriage” question. (Newt’s answer was to blame the media, a characteristically savvy move that could help win back the hearts of the evangelicals even despite his behavior, because evangelicals hate the media even more than they hate non-monogamous people.) The man once known as the back-bench bombthrower in Congress was now front and center on an issue he never wanted mentioned.

I kept trying to write about this, losing my focus on the moving target. I kept asking Planet Waves editors for more time. I have tweets. I have about 20 pages of excerpts from articles and blogs. I have copies of news releases. I have a page of links.

I sent out emails seeking quotes. (It’s Friday night, and they don’t care, or else they’re talking to the big boys.) Thursday and Friday, I nodded off in front of the keyboard. Every time I thought I was about done with this, had what I needed to write this put together, a new column or blog or article would come out, and I’d consider that point of view, too.

Finally, three days past my deadline, I have realized what the story really is: It’s about this huge volume of material. It’s about all the chatter. The story is simply: When you Google news on “polyamory,” you get dozens of hits.

They’re from major news organizations and bloggers who haven’t addressed the topic before. It is a pleasure to see people I respect, whom I’ve followed and sought out for advice, and some who I know, get quoted with respect and care in articles by major organizations and independent media alike. Here, for instance, is a quote from the news release sent out by Robyn Trask, director of Loving More, the magazine, website, and organization that educates about and activates for polyamory:

…Loving More is both pleased and concerned to see the issue of polyamory and open relationships coming into the mainstream conversation. It is about time this important issue is being discussed. What is of concern to polyamorist leaders is a true understanding the definition of polyamory and open relationships, as well as some people associating polyamory — open honest non-monogamous relationships — with cheating. Gingrich cheated on his wife and then after the fact offered to open his marriage. … Polyamory and other forms of ethical non-monogamy are about being honest, authentic and transparent with our partner/s; it is about commitment and honoring agreements. Very few human beings are truly monogamous and it is time that people begin to understand that with billions of people in the world, relationships can come in many shapes and sizes. Monogamy is a beautiful choice for many, but it is not for everyone. Loving More recommends people be honest with who they are. …

The consensus in poly world is, as Cunning Minx at Polyamory Weekly put it: “Newt, yer doin’ it WRONG.” The typical tweet by a poly person? “newt cheater not open — poly FAIL.”
But in a way, what seems so unexpected and out of the blue has been building and had to blow. So to speak.

My searches and news feeds on polyamory give me a simple, but pretty steady, diet. The topic has been bubbling for a while. It’s turning up on TV shows, both as a joke and as a serious dramatic subject. Magazine articles, talk shows — check. It was building — and this announcement just gave it a focal point. As the Miami Herald’s “Naked Politics” blog put it, “The words ‘open marriage’ became part of the political lexicon.”

Here’s more from the newspaper dearest to my heart, looking at the reaction by Rush Limbaugh, who is the driving force behind shaping the messages against Romney and pushing Gingrich as the party choice (and there may be interesting reasons why that’s happening, that may yet come out).

… The words ‘open marriage’ became part of the political lexicon … Limbaugh lauded Gingrich for having had the “decency” to ask his former wife if he could see another woman, rather than simply cheat on her without permission. He also suggested that affairs are common, noting that about half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce. “There’s even a book on how open marriages can be good … I read it in the 70s,” Limbaugh said before dropping a reference to James Joyce’s Ulysses, which ends with a cheater’s soliloquy by Molly Bloom.

Republicans are asking for open marriages! CNN is talking about polyamory! Rush Limbaugh is quoting Joyce’s Ulysses! One more sign and we’ve got an apocalypse, people!

This is one weird world we’re getting as Neptune crosses the threshold. Because this is very Aquarian, of course. I actually see polyamory as Piscean and Libran in some ways; I have a Venus-Uranus conjunction, typically read as the sign of the superfreak. But if you’re reading here, you know that typical sign and planet readings do not always apply; you’re going to get some insight beyond the ordinary, and certainly outside of the typical judgmental sign-ism. Which is why it’s probably a good idea to get a look at the annual reading.

Anyway, what’s Aquarian is the action of the Internets in spreading the word and, oddly, Newt himself.

I’m not really qualified to do a real reading, but this is just the quick glance: June 17, 1943, 11:45 p.m. Born in Harrisburg, PA, and so coming from roughly the same territory as Rick Santorum. There’s a book that came out this year, by Colin Woodard, called American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America. It divides America into regions based on immigration and settlement patterns, and it positions Western Pennsylvania in the Appalachian region, very distinct from the liberal Mid-Atlantic. It’s the territory of Scots-Irish, independent, insular, the home of the Whiskey Rebellion and coal worker rebellions. It’s a heart that’s being tapped into for these elections as strongly as was South Florida in past years.

Gingrich has his Sun at 26 Gemini; he’s a Full Moon baby with his Moon at 25 Sagittarius — a Galactic Core connection (one I share, with my ascendant at 26 Gemini); ascendant 19 Aquarius. His Moon is also in the 10th, which can make fame inevitable. Venus, Pluto and the North Node conjunct in Leo, roaring away; Mars in Aries, doing just what it wants when it wants it; Jupiter in the 5th, just a big overgrown kid; Mercury/Uranus conjunct in Gemini, which accounts for his formidable and electric intellect, capable of grasping big pictures in an instant and just as capable of bending reality and making everyone else see things in a very different — even if inaccurate — way. I’ll leave it there, because I don’t want to continue the amateur exercise. [Note: ADB lists the time for Newt's birth as "DD", or "dirty data." My earlier confusion was due to Gary Caton's use of a sunrise chart because of that classification. You can see a chart here based on the time Maria cites. - amanda.]

Is it obvious I have a very small soft spot for Newt Skywalker, as he was called by his own staffers (who have changed over, over and over again, because he’s allegedly hell to work with — not because he’s mean, but because he’s such a loose cannon he’s bound to run over your foot once in a while, or worse)? His own second wife, Marianne, the one he asked for an open marriage, the one to whom he issued this ultimatum shortly after she’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis — she herself, even in her recent interview, does not call the man any of the names leveled at him even by those in his own party. She has a compassion that comes not from long-suffering willingness to take one for the cause but out of what looks like a balanced and holistic view on life. She sees his faults clearly, asks not for forgiveness for him, but sees his humanity. Despite it all.

From her many interviews and the profiles of him over the years, the best of which was in Esquire in 2010, and from talk in Washington, he’s just a 12-year-old boy who’s just discovered science fiction and all the wonderful vision it opens up of new worlds and ways of doing things, whether these are in outer space or in relationships. In a way, this latest news just sounds like Newt being Newt (echoing Herman Cain asking the voters to “let Herman Cain be Herman Cain”).

Here’s just one quote by Marianne Gingrich from the article:

“Newt always wanted to be somebody,” she says. “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 you start being a little whore, ’cause that comes with drinking. That’s what corruption is — when you’re too exhausted, you’re gonna go with your weakness. So when we see corruption, we shouldn’t say, ‘They’re all corrupt.’ Rather, we should say, ‘At what point did you decide that? And why? Why were you vulnerable?’”

Rush, by the way, is another, though even more unappealing, overgrown fantasy fanboy. When I ask myself why perfectly reasonable, hardworking people can listen to, believe and follow these soft-handed fast-talkers, I come back to those factors — they’re selling a fantasy vision no less compelling than that of Robert Heinlein (who influenced many polyamorists) or L. Ron Hubbard (who started a religion), or Ayn Rand, for that matter. Two girls from Venus for every spaceboy! New worlds to colonize! All your base belong to us! Drill, baby, drill! It belongs to the old-school manifest destiny strain of science fiction as western — the universe as an endless vista for colonization. It’s a theme that’s been turned around in most contemporary science fiction, but these guys aren’t reading any new books. (They just get a staffer to write a jacket blurb when needed.)

Whatever people may say about conspiracies and timing and why did this come out in South Carolina, and why did his wife choose to speak up right now — putting all that aside, wasn’t it just high time for the truth to come out on who the candidates in the wacky lineup of the GOP really are?

We all know damn well — I know I’ve experienced it — that when you try to put a lid on sexuality, in particular, it will come bursting out when and where you least expect it. The more you shove the chair under the doorknob and the trunk in front of the closet, the more the monster inside will try to break out.

Or a closet might not be the best metaphor. Call it a monster in a box. These people tried really, really hard to fit enduring human romantic and sexual relationships into one size of box — the model of American monogamy forged over about the past hundred years. It was based on a box created for thousands of years, based on social rules about inheritance and who gets the land and the cattle, but the particular box these Republican candidates have been so strenuously ‘defending’ is fairly new from the factory.

And there’s not a monster inside, either. It’s Wonder Woman. It’s Superman, inside. It’s the whole Justice League, pushing to live in a way that’s true to their hearts. It’s us, saying that we’re going to talk about these things and bring them out into the open, one way or another. The way many of us live might involve getting back in the box and setting up housekeeping, and that’s perfectly fine. But this week, the lid was blown off, and it can’t be taped back on.

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8 Responses to Newt Gingrich and a Different Kind of Bombshell

  1. DanC says:

    The scary part of Newt is that he has spent so much of his energy attacking others from a sanctimonious “family values” agenda. Obviously for anyone to bother spending so much time attacking others, is virtually a sure sign that they are dealing with those same issues within themselves. But the lack of true understanding of himself, and inflicting that lack of understanding on others makes me pity him, and worry for the people he harms through his “intolerance.”

  2. mariapadhila says:

    Another one: writing in clauses on the poly relationship contract that dating newt Gingrich is not allowed. It would certainly violate my boundaries.

  3. Judith Gayle Judith Gayle says:

    … and doncha just love the part where, thanks to Newt, we’re now looking at the possibility of an “open” convention — the GOP bride all a’ tremble but two grooms walking down the aisle? LOL!!

  4. mariapadhila says:

    There are new nonmonagamy commentaries and articles coming out ever hour–and some if it is very funny. You have to be able to laugh about this stuff–what’s the alternative? I.e. see Judith on Jon Stewart bit, referenced in her column. And @Alexander–yep, it’s a start. Like something I read irl at work the other day: “recognize and celebrate incremental changes, no matter how small.”

  5. Alexander De Witte says:

    Great article Maria worth the extended deadline. I was going to proffer analysis but you can get tied it knots!

    Just to say that while I hold out no great hope for the sudden onset of honesty in politics or deeper honesty between people, it seems that MORE honesty may not be the result but LESS dishonesty would constitute a refreshing start!

  6. Fe Bongolan says:

    The Most Hysterical Post-South Carolina primary Daily Kos Diary yet:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/01/21/1057185/-Cheer-up-Mitt,-maybe-Newt-will-suggest-an-open-Presidency?via=siderecent

    It’s short and sweet, and begins with the most hysterical sentence involving a time machine, Gingrich and the Clinton penis.

    (And I add my apologies to any polyamorous readers out there who may be offended by the title of the diary. For me, its not about Newt’s polyamory. It’s his hypocrisy.-fb)

  7. Fe Bongolan says:

    Maria:

    The joke around the intertoobz (Facebook) is that if, heaven forbid Newt Gingrich is elected Pres, Callista would be called the “Third Lady”.

  8. Brendan Brendan says:

    Maria – thank you for the insider’s view. I was wondering what the poly community’s take on the travails of NG would be, and you have given us an excellent view. As you wrote, he’s doing it wrong, but the concept, the idea of polyamory is now out there, and it’s surprising a whole lot of people.

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