How is Newt Gingrich like Alvin Greene?

Slate examines the subject of whether Newt Gingrich is more than merely an excitable boy:

Is Newt Nuts?

Consider the symptoms: Bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, impulsiveness, spending sprees …

… We’re quick to describe politicians whose views we find extreme or whose behavior seems odd as “crazy,” and perhaps anyone who runs for president in some sense is. But I’ve long wondered whether Newt Gingrich merits that designation in a more clinical sense. I’m not a psychiatrist, of course, and it’s impossible to diagnose someone at a distance. Without medical records that he hasn’t released, we can’t know whether Gingrich may have inherited his mother’s manic depression. Nevertheless, one observes in the former House Speaker certain symptoms—bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, racing thoughts, spending sprees—that go beyond the ordinary politician’s normal narcissism.

One possibility is that Newt suffers, and benefits from, the milder affliction of hypomania. In his 2005 book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, John D. Gartner, a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, argues that this form of extreme optimism explains the achievements of everyone from Christopher Columbus to Andrew Carnegie. Gartner writes: “Hypomanics are brimming with infectious energy, irrational confidence, and really big ideas. They think, talk, move, and make decisions quickly. Anyone who slows them down with questions ‘just doesn’t get it.’” Hypomanics lack discipline, act on impulse, suffer from over-confidence, and often lack judgment.

Is Newt delusional? Yes… except… the world keeps conforming itself to his delusions, making them reality.

I mean, he was crazy to run… I mean, come on, a guy with his baggage? But now he’s the frontrunner.

He had the same thing happen in the early 90s. He was the mad insurgent, the bomb-throwing back-bencher who thought he was born to rule — but he became speaker. The world changed in order to fit his megalomaniacal delusion.

It’s kind of like the Alvin Greene phenomenon. He was crazy to run, right? But he won. So who’s crazy?

14 thoughts on “How is Newt Gingrich like Alvin Greene?

  1. `Kathryn Fenner

    We throw around terms like “crazy” and “nuts”–using them imprecisely to describe everything from mentally ill people to perfectly rational positions we disagree with. This article argues, compellingly to this former psychology student, that Newt Gingrich is at least hypomanic, if not bipolar. Do we want such a person to have his finger on the button?

    Michelle Bachmann may have some unusual ideas, but I have seen nothing to suggest she is not mentally healthy. Ditto Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, et al. I may heartily disagree with them, but they do appear to be rational.

  2. Juan Caruso

    The “treatment” (pattern of objections applied to conservative candidates) is predictably transparent.

    First, if the Republican candidate is not a lawyer, question his/her intelligence. If the candidate is a Democrat lawyer, assume superior intelligence.

    If the candidate’s intelligence is obviously (conceded by the press to be formidable) question his sanity.

    Ignore the obvious, even when hypocritically highlighted by a lawyer:

    “We’ve got a Washington that works only for those who can hire
    an army of lobbyists and an army of lawyers, and that means it’s not working for the rest of us.” – Elizabeth Warren (Lawyer), U.S. Senatorial candidate -Massachusetts.

  3. bud

    I mean, he was crazy to run… I mean, come on, a guy with his baggage? But now he’s the frontrunner.

    I’ve resisted making Newt the frontrunner in the all-important “bud” odds for all the various craziness he presents. Likewise Intrade has never made him the frontrunner. Even now Intrade has Romney with about a 5 point lead over Newt. Yet the polls continue to show his lead widening and the time before voting narrowing. So what is a good prognosticator to do?

    At this point the polling numbers are so completely at odds with logic it is virtually impossible to assign any rational odd to the race. So the only thing to do is assign irrational odds. Crazy as it is I’m going to go even a tad further than Intrade and make him a co-equal favorite with Mitt. Mitt is melting down at a prodigious rate and there seems no real reason any more to leave him alone at the top of heap.

    As for the other. What can you say about Rick Perry. He’s just such a foolish looking man his standing even among the GOP faithful just doesn’t look good right now. Ron Paul can’t be ruled out in this environment. And neither can Bachmann or Santorum. And what has happened to Mr. Huntsman? Nate Silver and others even suggest a new face is not out of the question. So here we go:

    Newt – 2-1
    Mitt – 2-1
    Paul – 5-1
    Bachmann 6-1
    Santorum 6-1
    Perry 8-1
    Huntsman 10-1
    New Face 20-1

  4. `Kathryn Fenner

    Juan, You are an anti-lawyer hammer, to whom everything you don’t like is a lawyer nail. It’s a very odd Unified Theory that you haven’t explained very well, except to say “if lawyer, then bad.”

  5. bud

    I’ve seen a couple of interviews with Elizabeth Warren and lawyer or not she’s a darned rational, reasonable, intelligent and gifted woman that I would love to see elected to the US Senate.

  6. Tim

    the lawyer beef has to be with people with money; not with lawyers, since anyone can hire the best attorney they can afford. Walmart has some pretty good ones, I hear.

    Now, I agree that in places where there are few, weaker lawyers, laws have little power. Just try hiring a good attorney in Somalia to make your case in court or draft a law. Seems those Somali lawyers suck at their jobs, and the Somali’s, as a result, have a true paradise. At least they don’t have any Walmarts.

  7. Bart

    Unless a new face emerges and if Obama doesn’t commit a faux paux that would literally sink his ship, the current field of Republicans will not stand a chance of unseating him. He will serve another 4 years in the White House.

    What is the real unknown is the balance of power shift will be in either chamber of congress. If the trend continues, I am of the belief Democrats will pick up a couple of additional senate seats and regain a lot of lost seats in the house.

    Democrats are successfully painting Republicans as being against the average American and it is working. The traditional image of Republicans being in favor of the wealthy has been rekindled and the flames are spreading.

    The polls and odds be damned, all one needs to do is read the comments the public is making on various forums and the mood is evident. The public really doesn’t know who to blame so they are ready to blame whoever the finger is pointed to the most and right now, the finger is pointed directly at Republicans by Obama. No matter what his “poll” numbers may be, he is still the president and he still carries enough weight to make a difference.

  8. Juan Caruso

    @Kathryn Fenner (Lawyer)”…you haven’t explained very well, except to say “if lawyer, then bad.” – Kathryn Fenner

    Since we know lawyers read very well, I must assume you are attempting to “snow” in order to deceive other of Brad’s readers who may not.

    “..haven’t explained very well”, you say, Kathryn? Better than you apparently have read, and not with the aim of disparaging lawyers (of whom some of my relatives are prominent), but with the aim of influencing the voters who have empowered these true elitists and future nobility!

    To wit:
    December 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm
    Juan Caruso said (in reply to Kathryn Fenner):

    (a) Underlying beef with lawyers –
    Lawyers have been elected to offices far out of proportion to their numbers in the U.S. workforce (2%). Congress: 40% House and 60% Senate. The general public is unaware of obvious conflicts of interest that their current numbers pose considering chairmanship (and majorities) of various ethics and investigating committees: “towing the mark” to avoid investigations (or obtain ajust hand-slapped outcomes).

    Required “collegiality” to assure post-congressional employment as effective lobbyists (by far, most lobbyists are LAWYERS), etc.

    ‘Collegiality’, required by the lawyer network, impacts directly votes on lifetime SUPCO appointments. While the Constitution does not require justices be LAWYERS, the ABA has demanded it (and 100% are lawyers).

    Don’t take my word for it Kathryn, believe a respected Democrat LAWYER:

    “We’ve got a Washington that works only for those who can hire
    an army of lobbyists and an army of lawyers, and that means it’s not working for the rest of us.” – Elizabeth Warren (Lawyer)

    Google “Lawyer-Political Complex” for more, as the above is hardly exhaustive.

    The conflict of interest in elected LAWYERS is hardly arguable. I no more blame lawyers than I would blame hair dressers if they comprised similar seats (although I honestly believe their connection to the public would be less parasitic and more solid).

    Who is at fault? Besides lawyers who have rigged advantages for incumbents and are most of our career politicians, voters are at fault.

  9. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Juan–Do you also handwrite these things on notebook paper and stick them under people’s windshield wipers in big box retailer’s parking lots? Pin tiny lawyers to your clothing and pace in front of the State House and Maurice’s on Charleston Highway?

    You are saying you don’t like lawyers because lawyers have been elected in disproportionate numbers, have some sort of conflict of interest and professional collegiality? Elizabeth Warren is saying SOME lawyers are not working for the people. etc. etc.

  10. Steve Gordy

    Expecting someone who wasn’t a lawyer to be a good Supreme Court jurist would be like expecting a self-educated surgeon to do a kidney transplant. It might work out all right, but the odds are against it.


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