Newt Gingrich is among the most power-hungry and self-assertive men in America. Yet he seemingly bows at the feet of wife Callista. But this is not a sexual attraction.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, June 11, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at

Is Newt Seeking Sex, Power, or What?

Study these photos of the last two Gingrich wives:

Gingrich and the last wife he cheated on Callista's steely gaze

Gingrich and the last wife he cheated on

Callista's steely gaze

What do they make you think of the women? The first (actually the second) Mrs. Gingrich seems happy to appear with an informal look, and the couple seems relaxed together.

The woman pictured in the second photo, Callista Gingrich, Newt's current spouse, seems extremely poised, put together and judgmental.

Of course we can't conclusively deduce these things from random photographs. But the Boston Globe's recent headline , "Role of Gingrich's wife draws scrutiny," describes the turmoil in the Gingrich presidential campaign this way:

Callista Gingrich has been a near-constant presence at her husband's side, a visible symbol that the twice-divorced House speaker is now a devoted family man.

But Newt Gingrich's third wife also is being cited by people close to him as a key factor in the staff revolt that has left his presidential campaign on life support.

At least 16 aides and advisers abandoned the Gingrich campaign Thursday, an unprecedented exodus that has cast doubt on his viability as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination. . . .

In the implosion's aftermath, officials close to the Gingrich campaign privately pointed fingers at Callista Gingrich as the source of the tension between her husband and his staff.

They say she exerted enormous influence on the former House speaker, controlling his schedule and encouraging him to disappear on a luxury cruise in the Greek Isles just weeks after he got into the race. . . .As criticism mounted, the candidate defended his wife's involvement, saying that the two of them "make decisions as a couple.''

A devoted, faithful husband who takes his wife's preferences seriously -- what can be wrong with that, especially for a man with a spotty marital record (Newt got with each of the wives pictured while still married to her predecessor)?

On the other hand, does Newt want to be president, or not?

In order to answer these questions, we have to understand what Newt is after. What does he want from the relationship? Callista is much younger and more attractive than either Gingrich or the former Mrs. G. So perhaps she has many more chips to cash in when "negotiating" with her spouse. She seems to expect to be treated in style: much has been made of the half-millon-dollar revolving account the couple maintains with Tiffany and Co., and she seems to have been the decider in regards to the luxury cruise the couple took while Newt's campaign floundered.

Why does Gingrich prefer such a woman, and relationship? Callista might be a typical trophy wife, an attractive woman an older man delights to have by his side to burnish his image and prove his value. But her influence over Newt seems to extend beyond this; she seems to have really gotten into the man's head, making critical decisions for one of the most politically ambitious people in America. Gingrich is famous as a man who will blast off against anybody; there is no more cocksure person in the country (with the possible exception of Donald Trump).

The former Mrs. Gingrich, not as obviously attractive and "valuable" as the current version, was expendable. Does this mean Newt Gingrich, a man famous for speaking out on virtually every issue facing America, someone who is intimidated by no one, is sexually and socially insecure? He is SO concerned to have the younger, more beautiful wife -- remember, the discovery of their affair was a primary reason he had to sacrifice the speakership in 1999. And he is so malleable in her hands.

Observers describe the relationship as almost a motherly one between the two, one in which Newt is hypersensitive to Callista's approval. I have already deduced that this is not an intensely sexual entanglement based, I admit, on Callista's appearance. She just does not give off that vibe. As Karen commented on that post: "I saw Newt's wife on TV a couple of days ago. From the helmet-style hairdo to the rigid expression on her face, she doesn't look like someone planning on having sex anytime soon."

No, Newt is seeking something different at this stage in his life -- if he were ever a sexual animal (he is, after all, a Republican). Newt really wants affirmation (don't we all, except maybe Barack Obama). He wants it both from his pretty wife, and from an adoring public, the latter of which he somehow associates with having the beautiful Callista at his side.

And, so, we see that the most powerful and forceful men are putty in the hands of a woman.