[Note: This portrait is of course a bit one-sided, and the use of evidence somewhat selective. I am of course relying on the fact that people already have a picture of this guy, so instead of providing a full, rounded picture I restrict the post to providing evidence for why it is correct to classify him as a loon]
Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich is one of the world’s staunchest defenders of family values, famous – for instance – for leading the charge to impeach Bill Clinton for lying under oath about adulterous activities, while concurrently having an affair with a Capitol Hill staffer. “It doesn't matter what I do ... People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live,” said Gingrich, which is OK until you look at what he actually is saying. You see, during the 2012 Republican primaries he made it pretty clear that if you don’t elect him America would in short time turn into a secular, atheist, Islamic fundamentalist country, asserting that there is a conspiracy between Islamic fundamentalists and secularists to hijack America – the thing is, as he told Janet Mefferd, there is an “intolerant elite” made up of “secular judges and religious bigots” who are trying to promote “radical Islam over Christianity and Judaism” (also here). And just check out his erudite analysis of beach volleyball, while you are at it, or – perhaps more disconcertingly – his assertion that unemployment benefits violate the Declaration of Independence. At least Gingrich doesn’t take prisoners in his attacks on the liberal elites.
His entry into the presidential nomination race (not always without scandals) provided onlookers with a mixture of hilarity, horror, and revulsion, though it did make him have to change his positions on some ideas in predictably unpredictable ways. As with so many fundie crazies, Gingrich doesn’t appreciate the division of power (as long as he has it), and did for instance claim that the president can simply ignore the Supreme Court if it issues a ruling he doesn’t like and said that he would order his administration to do so if elected (Gingrich is on the record for wanting to outlaw judicial review and claiming that the president should be able to abolish any courts that don’t agree with him, to arrest judges who come up with rulings he doesn’t like, and that judges should come from fundamentalist Christian lawschools such as Liberty “University”). And as with so many fundie crazies he only acted because God told him to. And as with so many fundie crazy presidential candidates he pledged to combat gay rights, and as with so many crazy presidential candidates he is a signatory to Mississippi’s radical personhood amendment, which nicely sums up such people’s approach to reality: if the facts disagree with you, you can get them to agree with you by fiat and declaration.
Gingrich is a fan of the phrase “secular-socialist machine,” which is apparently supposed to be derogatory. According to Gingrich (though denied by reality), Obama is the most radical president in US history who uses Saul Alinsky tactics and Chicago politics to refashion the US into a dreaded “high-tax low-growth” society. Thus, Obama represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union did, which given the state of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union at present may be true, but not in the way Gingrich intended. A slightly different source of “all our problems” is apparently that children in public schools are not forced to pray. In the same vein, he has said that non-believers should not be considered for public office, since he “would be really worried if somebody assured me that nothing in their faith would affect their judgments, because then I’d wonder, where’s your judgment — how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” Indeed, he said that he would want to fire federal employees who are too liberal, and has likewise advocated David Barton’s Christian Nation mythology and historical revisionism, denied that there is a separation of church and state, and called for the restoration of the ‘Church Militant’. Of course, his defense of these matters was full of rather blatant falsehoods, but that has never bothered presidential candidates much before and was unlikely to start to do so with Newt Gingrich.
To show how much he cared about reason and religious liberty, Gingrich named “Apostle” Dutch Sheets to his faith leaders coalition.
As for science, Gingrich mocked anyone who accepts evolution by asking “do you think … we’re randomly gathered protoplasm? We could have been rhinoceroses, but we got lucky this week?”, which is not quite how biologists would describe the process of evolution – though Gingrich has supported evolution, and even climate change, before; he is, in other words, probably primarily spineless, as opposed to Perry, Bachmann, and Santorum, who are probably actual creationists (maybe except for Bachmann, whose beliefs are so incoherently dumb that they don’t add up to anything whatsoever). It is unclear whether Gingrich actually believed the idiocy he spewed here (a classic case of projection from hell, in which he also seems to deny that we may some day run out of oil).
Gingrich did screw himself over pretty thoroughly during his bid for the presidential nomination, including running himself into the ground financially. Hopefully we have heard the very last of him.
There is a slightly dated list of quotes and incidents here, a fine resource here, and a good list of Gingrich’s most appalling political positions here. You can also test your ability to distinguish Gingrich from various supervillains here.
Diagnosis: A walking, talking Onion article, and as with the Onion there are actually people who mistakes it for genuine. In any case he is a horrible person.
Of course, we have to mention Paul Krugman’s quote: “Gingrich is what stupid people think a smart person sounds like,” though the quote originally belongs to Elizabeth Bowen talking about Aldous Huxley (comment 22).