You're not going to believe this...
August 20, 2000 12:01 AM   Subscribe

You're not going to believe this... but it looks like Newt Gingrich had more than one partner while Speaker of the House. (more inside)
posted by aurelian (21 comments total)
I was flipping through my paper, and saw an article about Newt Gingrich getting married.

Here's the interesting part:

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his companion of seven years, Callista Bisek, were married Friday night (18 Aug) in a private ceremony under a tent in a hotel courtyard."

(snip description of the wedding)

"It was the third marriage for Gingrich, 57, and the first for his 34-year-old bride. Gingrich was divorced from his second wife, Marianne, in December 1999 after 18 years of marriage."

If I read that right, Ms. Bisek became Gingrich's companion in 1993. Hard to tell if Gingrich was honest with his wife of the time, if it was "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", if it was clandestine, or what.

Oh, and just to remind folks, Gingrich's years as Speaker of the House were 1995-1998.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader what story the US press was obsessed with in 1998. (cough)

posted by aurelian at 12:05 AM on August 20, 2000

is there a law that states that he can't divorce and re-marry? if not : who cares. why meddle in his private life... why meddle in anyone's private life...
posted by Satapher at 12:25 AM on August 20, 2000

Simply stating that a well-known person has gotten married is considered meddling? I belive meddling means to interfere without right and I can't see how Aurelian could possibly interfere with their marriage just by bringing up the subject.
posted by Ugh at 12:51 AM on August 20, 2000

No, there's no law against divorcing and re-marrying, Satapher... And if it was up to me and at least some others I could think of, there wouldn't even be laws against all three people here being married to each other, if they wanted to be.

But that's not the point.

One point is that Mr. Gingrich, all through the Lewinsky affair, was condemning Clinton for behavior Gingrich himself was pursuing.

Another point would be that neither the press nor Congress figured this out at a time it was relevant... or, that someone knew and made no comment.

Who knows, it may even have been the reason Gingrich resigned not only as Speaker, but from the House itself.

All of those points address things that took place in public, among publically elected officials.

I have no personal animus against Newt Gingrich. I'm interested in explaining some actions that seemed inexplicable at the time, and observing that people are much more human than their rhetoric makes them appear.

YMMV, obviously.

posted by aurelian at 1:16 AM on August 20, 2000

/me was painfully uniformed... apologies
posted by Satapher at 1:27 AM on August 20, 2000

Newt has a habit of recruiting new wife(ves) before retiring the old one. I have no sympathy for his second wife. She stepped into his life when he was still married to his first wife. He served divorce papers to his first wife when she was still in hospital being treated for cancer.

I will not be surprized if he already has his 4th wife lined up somewhere under his desk.

Best wishes to the newlyweds.

posted by tamim at 1:50 AM on August 20, 2000

Here is what I am wondering...why is Newt getting married at all??? Does this somehow legitimize his philandering with her? Is he finally conforming to the family values his party is so proud of? Does he want to pay higher taxes due to the "marriage penalty" Clinton supports? Given his track record with women does he not think this is a financial (not to mention PR) disaster waiting to happen? stupid is this guy??????
posted by plaino at 3:51 AM on August 20, 2000

Contrary to popular belief, character assassination in politics has nothing to do with staying on the moral high ground. It's all about appearances and deception of the American People. "I'm not the bad guy. I'm the vindicator. I'm here to tell you about how bad that guy over there is. Don't vote for him cuz he doesn't smell like you do. I smell just like you. I'm on your side." And then later we find out he smells just as bad as the guy he was dissing, but that's irrelevant. So long as he can convince you long enough to get you to vote for him, that's all he cares about.

This is not a moral high ground issue. It is not a democrat vs republican issue. That's all smoke and mirrors. The Us vs Them going on here is a small exclusive minority of political and corporate expletitives playing games with the minds and hearts of the American People. And we are letting this happen because of our apathy and gullibility.

There never was a difference between Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton. They were both equally capable of performing the job they had in our gov't. They were both equally capable of pulling the wool over the eyes of the public. They were and are both equally human. They both played games with the hearts and minds of the American People.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:56 AM on August 20, 2000

Go to Click Wedding Guests. Enter Callista and Bisek; click Search. Look; it's Newtie's new kitchen! And bedroom! And bath!

I believe there's a lesson to be learned here. Namely: it doesn't matter how many wives you ditch after almost two decades of marriage, people will still buy you stuff when you pick out a new one. God bless America.

posted by Sapphireblue at 7:49 AM on August 20, 2000

One point is that Mr. Gingrich, all through the Lewinsky affair, was condemning Clinton for behavior Gingrich himself was pursuing.

If I recall correctly, Gingrich was no use at all to the GOP when they wanted to make political hay out of the Lewinsky issue, because everyone knows he is also a womanizing horndog. He was uncharacteristically quiet about the subject.
posted by rcade at 8:39 AM on August 20, 2000

What's funny: some moral minority in our society insists politicians must appear to have moral integrity, yet it is inherently required of all politicians to be hypocritical and amoral. Otherwise they can't compete with their opponents and accomplish anything substantial for anybody.

Regarding any sexual activity by any politician, as long as the people in question are of legal age and consenting adults, we should attack the people who originally report it and laugh at anyone who seriously finds this a valid issue. It's like saying Tiger Woods can't play golf because he likes tobasco sauce on donuts. Yeah that's gross, but who gives a shit?

Yes, aurelian's original point was that Clinton was chastised for this behavior when Gingrich was doing the same thing. That's unfair, but when politicians want to talk about the issues, the country tunes them out. It's when politics start sounding like a Jerry Springer episode that people's ears perk up, and I for one am sick and tired of it. To me it should be scandalous if the politican CAN'T get it up. At least we know these guys are "fully functional" and healthy.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:21 AM on August 20, 2000

aurelian, some journalists did know. IIRC, there was one political column once who described Bisek as Newt's "frequent breakfast companion", nudge-nudge-wink-wink, way back in '96 or '97. Certainly if they're saying "companion of seven years" now, it wasn't a secret from everyone.

No, I don't care. And no, Newt wasn't the Republican leader on these issues. But he was Speaker, and he did say things which in retrospect were astoundingly hypocritical. That whole "do as we say, not as we do" petard is something I'm enormously happy to see Republicans hoisted upon. They built it.
posted by dhartung at 10:44 AM on August 20, 2000

rcade: Quiet he was not. He made it a policy at every speaking occasion he had to lambast the president, regardless of the context. He also encouraged other Republicans to do the same. Gingrich was as tenacious as the House Managers (the thugs).
posted by owillis at 10:56 AM on August 20, 2000

The reason I really care can be summed up in two words: Henry Hyde.

See... one of the great mysteries, to me, was why didn't Gingrich reign in Hyde when Hyde was on the loose, pursuing a course that any head count of the Senate showed wasn't worth anyone's time?

Now we have a possible answer: Hyde knew, and held Gingrich over a barrel because of it.

"Speaker Possibly Blackmailed Into Proceeding With Impeachment." is a public-policy headline, not a voyeuristic one, imho.

posted by aurelian at 11:47 AM on August 20, 2000

This is old news. I swear I read about his affair right around the time he resigned. Either that or the visions are back.

Someone back me up...
posted by Mick at 12:04 PM on August 20, 2000

we knew he was having the affair, yeah, and she was even named.

but they're married now. i think it counts as new-enough news :>
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:27 PM on August 20, 2000

Huh. Well, I missed it when it came out. But you're right, Salon did an article, and a fairly good one, at that. The piece also sources the "breakfast companion" phrase, by the way, and has some interesting things to say about it. The author had tried to nail down details of Gingrich-Bisek in 1994, and wasn't able to do it.

Like Tom Digby says, the fastest way to get info on the Internet isn't to ask a question, but to post the wrong information and let people correct you... :)

posted by aurelian at 12:42 PM on August 20, 2000

glancing through the registries at macy's and williams and sonoma, a few questions come to mind:

1. where is the kitchen sink?
2. what will happen to the spare cook books people bought them from W&S?
3. what happened to all the stuff Newt or Callista have in their households? i mean, how many saute/frying pan does one man need?
posted by tamim at 5:32 PM on August 20, 2000

Newt cried and bitched about Clinton's affair because he was LYING UNDER OATH about the Lewinsky affair... NOT because he was a moral upstanding citizen. Clinton was trying to cover up that affair so that he would win the sexual harrassment case that Paula-whats-her-nose brought against him. Paula Abdul? Paulie Shore? paula paula something... I swear I can't even think of the name... doesn't matter
posted by chiXy at 2:01 PM on August 21, 2000

One point is that Mr. Gingrich, all through the Lewinsky affair, was condemning Clinton for behavior Gingrich himself was pursuing.

Really? Gingrich lied under oath in a sexual harassment suit? Geez, why didn't that make any headlines?

Oh, because it didn't happen.

If you think Gingrich having an affair somehow exonerates Clinton from his crimes, you've got an odd way of thinking.
posted by mikewas at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2000

Indeed, mikewas.

And I've yet to see any report which indicates that the Gingrich-Bisek extramarital sex was happening in his office while he was supposed to be on the job. Nor was Bisek (AFAIK) a pitifully low-rung subordinate within the Gingrich camp. Does that make a difference? You bet your sweet butt.

And I don't recall anyone asking Newt who he was breakfasting with, especially under oath. And if someone had, I doubt he would've said "That depends on what the meaning of the word 'breakfast' is."

Was it just as scuzzy for Newt to cheat on Marianne as it was for Bill to cheat on Hillary? Absolutely. But the impeachment never was about the adultery, it was about the perjury, the obfuscations and the obstruction of justice. On those counts, Gingrich does have the moral high ground, no matter how soiled his feet as he stands on it.
posted by Dreama at 3:54 PM on August 22, 2000

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