Newt Gingrich and Narcissism (part one)

I was bouncing around the internet when, lo and behold, I came across this. Slate has posted a group of notes Newt Gingrich wrote to himself back in 1994 that were culled as part of a House ethics investigation of him in 1997.

These little scribbles are amazing. For me, they are the nails in his political coffin. I always suspected Newt The Amazing of being a dysfunctional narcissist, but the ‘doodles’ are the proof:

Gingrich—Primary Mission

—Advocate of civilization

—definer of civilization

—Teacher of the rules of civilization

—arouser of those who form civilization

—Organizer of the pro-civilization activists

—leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces.

. . Commander of All Civilizing Forces in the Global Theater, apparently. You may think this is funny, silly stuff, but I don’t. I had to grow up with people suffering from personality disorders, and if this isn’t the real thing it’s close. Newt has a nasty case of narcissism.

Are you in the habit of hastily scribbling 25-year prescriptions for yourself? Newt is:

This 1992 note appears to be a 25-year plan (the header reads “1993-2018”). Items on the list include: “A series of books (the history of Freedom, prosperity and safety),” “Possibly a series of courses with audio and videotape followers,” and “Campus (intellectual) appearances on ‘the histories,’ ” with “Gingrich the historian applying the lessons of history to public life.”

When you refer to yourself in the third person in your personal notes, do you also include your title? Newt does. It’s a shame he never got around to chronicling all of Safety and Prosperity and Freedom through time. I’d be interested to know when Safety made its first appearance in history.

These are not memos reminding Newt of the various jobs he has ahead of him. You’ll notice he’s done exactly zero of these things, and he never will. These are the exercises of a fevered brain constantly asserting itself. Newt needs to see what it looks like, this manifestation of being great beyond all others. “Gingrich the historian applying the lessons of history to public life.” Hmm yes, that’s me. I can see it now.

And what does a sick mind do with this reflection? It acts the part. And this is the key with narcissists. Because they are usually completely incompetent, they must pretend. They have to know what role they’re playing before they meet you and impress upon you how impossibly wonderful they are. Thus The Historian doesn’t write notes to himself that say: “Finish Chapter 23 on the History of Prosperity.” Instead, Newt writes this:

Here’s TASK 1:

1. Articulate the vision of civilizing humanity and recivilizing all Americans

Since when do ‘historians’ civilize humanity? Since Newt decided to do it. Since it’s such an impossible job, that’s when. He hasn’t done it, you might notice. I’m not sure anyone who gets nailed for ethics violations or cheats on all his wives knows much about civility.

But this is Newt. Some of you are laughing, I know. But imagine this guy as your president – not so funny now, is it? He has a sizable lead in Republican polls, so it’s terrifying.

Well, I’m here to tell you that unless Newt can keep his serious psychological deficit in check, he’ll have a hard time winning. He’ll have a difficult time even holding on to the Republican nomination. Narcissists are almost always exposed once they have to take on real responsibility. They do badly under pressure. Newt’s short tenure as House Speaker and his resigning office all those years ago are testaments to that.

The mistakes, gaffes and strange moments will take their toll on the Gingrich campaign. It will not be pretty. It might be spectacular, as a narcissist’s collapse can be.

I’ll make some predictions as to how Newt’s campaign will wobble and eventually fall. Until then, I’ll leave you with some words from my all-time favorite narcissist. Not long before he died in a small town in Northern California, he reminded me: “John Glenn is a close personal friend of mine.”

–Part two.