Newt Gingrich’s campaign for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination appears to be imploding before our very eyes. Within a week of officially announcing his candidacy on May 11, 2011, Newt had come a purler on the issue of the House Republicans’ plan to end Medicare as we know it in favor of a “premium support” voucher system, which Newt had characterized as “right-wing social engineering.” Having thus established his credentials as the foot-in-mouth candidate and alienating himself from his party’s base almost before they were aware of his candidacy, Newt’s verbal backpedaling was truly epic; at one point he averred that any ad which quoted his actual words in context was “a falsehood.”
Gingrich went on to make his incoherent answer to the issue of his half-million-dollar revolving credit line at Tiffany’s (all while describing himself and wife Callista as “frugal”), after which the newly minted candidate left for a two-week luxury cruise of the Greek isles. Upon his return, Gingrich was presented with the simultaneous mass resignation of virtually all his senior campaign staff on June 9, stating they had a “different vision” than the candidate’s. Gingrich vowed to fight on, but with campaign coffers already in debt and a candidate unwilling to put in the time on personal fundraising appearances, it’s difficult to see how he gains any traction.
Gingrich’s story is one of dramatic rise and fall, and even if his candidacy ends in ignominy, his place in American history is assured, as he was largely responsible for one of the major political turnarounds in the US, the Republican resurgence of 1994, for which we are still paying the cost. His impact on politics has been crucial, as he successfully worked to cement the Reagan Revolution in the legislative branch of government.
Born Newton Leroy McPherson in Harrisburg, PA in 1943, Gingrich had a rough start in life. His parents’ marriage lasted just days, and Newt’s father was long gone by the time his son came into the world. His mother Kit remarried when Newt was 3, to Army officer Robert Gingrich, who adopted Newt. The family moved first to the Harrisburg suburb of Hummelstown, where Newt’s three half-sisters were born, but as a military family, they were peripatetic, which is how Newt ended up in Georgia, the state that would become the seat of his congressional power.
A graduate of Baker High School in Columbus, GA in 1961, Gingrich went on to earn a BA in history from Atlanta’s Emory University in 1965, followed by a M.A. in 1968 and a PhD in modern European history from Tulane in 1971. From 1970-1978, Gingrich taught history at West Georgia College in Carrollton, but as early as 1974 he had set his sights on a congressional career. Defeated in that year and in a second bid in 1976, in 1978 Gingrich finally became the US Representative from Georgia’s Sixth District.
So Gingrich was already in Washington when Reagan came knocking. A memo he sent the presidential hopeful in 1980 may have been the source of one of Reagan’s winning campaign slogans that year, “are you better off than you were four years ago?” Gingrich always had a way with words, at least on paper (his on-camera persona was often judged at once gruff and condescending). In 1983 he formed the “Conservative Opportunity Society,” a GOP congressional think tank, which contributed ideas to Reagan’s re-election campaign the following year.
Newt’s other talent was for political intrigue. In 1988 he brought ethics charges against the then House Speaker, Democrat Jim Wright, forcing his resignation, for which singular service Gingrich was promoted to Minority Whip in 1989 after the post was vacated by one Dick Cheney, who had been called into service at the Defense Department by the first George Bush. At the time, Gingrich stated his intention as Whip was to “build a much more aggressive, activist party,” at which goal he would succeed famously, with ramifications felt to this present day.
The crowning glory of Gingrich’s plan was 1994’s “Contract With America,” a brilliant bit of PR calculated to unite the disparate social and economic conservative wings of the GOP, and give voters a clearly demarcated alternative to Democratic rule. Gingrich and other House congressional candidates signed the contract on the steps of the capitol, promising ten specific legislative bills and reforms which they would enact within the first 100 days of the new congress if Americans gave them control.
And they duly did so, on November 8, 1994, making Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Among the Contract’s provisions were the “Fiscal Responsibility Act,” an attempt to enforce a balanced budget, which passed the House but failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the “Personal Responsibility Act,” which denied cash welfare to underage mothers, suspended increased financial aid for additional children born while the mother was collecting benefits, and mandated employment after two years on welfare. That bill passed both houses, but was vetoed by Clinton, who nevertheless a year later enacted very similar legislation along the same lines.
As chief architect of the electoral victory, Gingrich took his share of the spoils as House Speaker for the 104th and 105th Congress. But the Republicans overreached, and when faced with the raw power of Clinton’s veto pen, they shut down the government in protest in November 1995. The issue was the budget, and as both Clinton’s and Gingrich’s intransigence on this issue became clearer, a showdown became inevitable, which ensued after a hard-line appropriations bill was vetoed by Clinton. When the money already appropriated for government functions ran out, the GOP simply shut down all nonessential services, furloughed government workers, and left Washington. The crisis continued into January 1996 and was a PR disaster for the Republicans, made all the worse by a gaffe of Gingrich’s which left the impression that a good portion of the dispute was based in personal antipathy and a perceived slight to the Speaker during a transatlantic plane flight, when Gingrich was forced to exit the plane, which also carried the President, by the rear.
The fiasco redounded to progressives in the 1996 election, which saw Clinton handily re-elected and Democrats regain nine of the seats they had lost in 1994, winning back five more in 1998. But the greatest over-reach of all was yet to come, in congressional impeachment hearings against Bill Clinton, who had lied about an affair during a deposition in a civil suit being brought against him. The disclosure of the Monica Lewinsky affair caused great personal embarrassment to Clinton, who most Americans felt had disgraced his office, but it also showed Republicans as mean-spirited, petty and political opportunists. And Gingrich was seen, rightly or wrongly, as leading the charge.
Already in 1997, Gingrich’s public image was recognized as a liability for the GOP. An unsuccessful coup to replace him as Speaker had been foiled by him that summer. By 1998, Gingrich had become so toxic that despite the fact that the Republicans were still in power, he resigned both his leadership position and his congressional seat on November 6, 1998, just three days after having won his tenth re-election bid.
Since retirement from active politics, Gingrich has remained a vocal presence advocating for the conservative causes he believes in, as well as creating a virtual cottage industry of his products. Gingrich has written 26 books, most expounding upon his political philosophy, but also several novels, and he and his third wife Callista produce and host a series of historical and public policy documentaries with the Citizens United group. In 2007, he formed the 527 advocacy group “American Solutions for Winning the Future.” He is also a fellow at conservative think tanks the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institution. He was a Fox News contributor until March 2011, when the network suspended him in conformance to FEC regulations which prohibit potential presidential candidates from broadcast positions during their campaigns.
Gingrich formed an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run in early March, but did not officially announce his candidacy until May 11. Given all that’s followed, he may look back upon those two unofficial months as the happiest days of the campaign.
Born 17 June 1943, Newt Gingrich’s Sun at 25 Gemini closely opposes the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, the signature of someone with the potential to make a global impact or achieve worldwide notice and attention, a promise the former House Speaker has certainly fulfilled. The Galactic Center is also a supermassive Black Hole, indicating a considerable power of attraction and the ability to bend or twist reality to one’s liking, though not without unforeseen consequences. Conjunct the Sun is Saturn at 17 Gemini, indicating a carping, critical nature and a certain degree of harshness or coldness; these are not folks you’d prefer to have a comfy, intimate chat with, as they often betray a distance or aloofness which suggests they don’t really sympathize with others much.
The Sun/Saturn combination also evokes the workaholic, someone so identified with his career that all other concerns are set aside. They tend to gravitate to positions of authority, and often find themselves in government work. With Saturn also exactly opposed a Black Hole, the career path may take some unexpected turns, but literally anything is possible. The career highs are higher than most, and the lows lower. It can be difficult to gain traction, with quicksand mixed with tar as the typical Black Hole building base. Often things alter dramatically just as the native seems to be sitting on top of the world, or at his lowest ebb, something evinced in Gingrich’s life by his unexpected elevation to House Speaker and sudden resignation, all within four years.
Also conjunct the Sun is asteroid House at 1 Cancer, representing the House of Representatives, and this is further in a tight semisextile to natal Mercury at 2 Gemini, identifying Gingrich (Sun) as House (House) Speaker (Mercury), first in the Republican leadership (Saturn).
The Sun/GC opposition becomes a Grand Cross when we factor in the squares to natal Neptune and asteroid Achilles at 29 and 28 Virgo, and a rather unfortunate combination of asteroids Lust, Pecker and Icarus at 21, 22 and 28 Pisces. The square to Neptune is likely the source of Gingrich’s reputation as a visionary, though it is just as surely the fraud or the huckster, using deceptive imagery to evoke an emotional response. Sun/Neptune can suffer from an inferiority complex, and bombast is often the technique used to disguise this, bluffing and blustering to prevent others from recognizing one’s insecurity. Achilles here suggests that to some extent, Neptune’s qualities are a soft spot for Gingrich, a chink in his armor, a congenital weak spot which may prove his undoing.
And in fact, this combination may be seen in Gingrich’s spiritual outlook, which is indeed a potential source of weakness politically. Gingrich was essentially raised without any specific religious framework; it was not until attending Tulane that he developed any interest, becoming a Baptist while engaged in research on the effect of religion on politics.
Gingrich switched faiths in 2009, converting to Catholicism, the religion of his third wife, after seeing Pope Benedict XVI during his American visit in 2008. Gingrich describes the incident thus: “Catching a glimpse of Pope Benedict that day, I was struck by the happiness and peacefulness he exuded. The joyful and radiating presence of the Holy Father was a moment of confirmation about the many things I had been thinking and experiencing for several years,” later adding, “I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace.” But Catholicism is not likely to endear Gingrich to the GOP rank-and-file primary voter, who tends to a more fundamentalist, ultra-Protestant worldview.
Lust, Pecker and Icarus together spell zipper issues with a vengeance, combining as they do obsessive fixation (Lust), a cavalier attitude towards intimacy (Pecker) and rash, reckless actions (Icarus), but Gingrich has avoided major scandals, despite a truly atrocious record of failed intimate relationships. His first marriage in 1962, when he was only 19, was with Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, who was 26; allegations that the romance began when he was just 16 and still her pupil are refuted by Gingrich. The couple had two daughters and seemed reasonably happy and well-matched, but in 1980 Gingrich began an affair and left his wife, serving her with divorce papers while she was still in the hospital recovering from surgery for uterine cancer. Six months after the divorce was final he married his mistress, Marianne Ginther; he had proposed to her before informing his first wife that he was leaving.
History repeated itself in the mid-‘90s, as Gingrich began an affair with a House staffer, Callista Bisek, 23 years his junior. He continued the affair throughout his prosecution of Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, surely a risky (Icarus) behavior for the Speaker of the (Glass) House, under the circumstances. In 1999 Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and in 2000 he divorced her and shortly after married Callista.
With asteroids Hera and Juno, respectively the Roman and Greek goddesses of marriage, linked at 29 and 27 Capricorn and opposed to Pluto at 5 Leo, we’d be foolish to expect smooth matrimonial sailing for Gingrich. Having Pluto also conjoined Venus on a Black Hole at 10 Leo is another extremely good indicator of relationship turmoil, instability and sudden change (all Black Hole), allied with secretiveness, power plays, control issues and manipulation (all Pluto).
All three of Gingrich’s wives have asteroid referents, and all appear prominently in his chart. Asteroids Jacquey (#82926, for first wife Jackie Battley) at 13 Cancer and Marianna (#602, for second wife Marianne Ginther) at 15 Cancer both conjoin asteroid Newtonia (#662, for Newton, his legal first name) at 10 Cancer, and these form a T-Square with Mars (sexuality) at 15 Aries and asteroid Sisyphus (if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again) at 14 Libra and Washingtonia at 15 Libra, indicating a strong physical attraction (Mars), close identification with these spouses (Jacquey and Marianna conjunct Newtonia) and a pattern of repetitive response (Sisyphus).
Asteroid Kallisto (#204, for Callista, his third and current wife) at 1 Libra is conjunct Neptune, thus squared the Sun, and also conjoined asteroid America at 7 Libra. In early March 2011, in an attempt to forestall the likely negative impact of his marital history with the important religious right constituency, Gingrich gave an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network where he explained his infidelities: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.” I suppose with Marianna squared Washingtonia and Kallisto conjunct America, Gingrich really did do it for the country.
Mercury at 2 Gemini is conjunct Uranus at 5 Gemini, and Gingrich does tend to “shoot from the lip,” a virtual font of political gaffes. Take this gem from 1995, during his House stewardship, in reference to the issue of women in combat: “Females have biological problems staying in a ditch for 30 days because they get infections and they don’t have upper body strength … Men are basically little piglets, you drop them in the ditch and they roll around in it.” Blunt and provocative, Gingrich tells it like he sees it, a poor skill for a politician, and often he sees it very differently from most. His self-insertion into the fracas over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in August 2010 is one such example; his stark appraisal of the GOP’s mooted Medicare changes as “right-wing social engineering” is another.
As we have seen, Venus at 10 Leo is conjunct Pluto and a Black Hole, neither a significator of lasting, peaceful relationships. Venus is also squared by Nessus at 5 Taurus, indicating inappropriate sexual responses or actions, a word Gingrich himself chose to use when describing his checkered past. Monetary issues can ensue from Venus/Black Hole as well, as his campaign is finding out, although its acquisitiveness has served him well personally, with an estimated $10 million fortune culled from book sales, speaking engagements and videos.
Combative Mars at 15 Aries exactly opposes asteroid Washingtonia at 15 Libra, and fractious Eris at 5 Aries opposes asteroid America at 7 Libra: not for nothing has Gingrich been a divisive presence on the US political scene. Abrupt and precipitate, Mars in Aries is not known for tact, bringing to mind the old adage, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Allied by semisquare to Mercury/Uranus, this depicts someone spoiling for a fight, and not too careful about where he lands his punches, striking at both friend and foe alike.
Asteroid Gingerich (#2658, a close spelling match for “Gingrich”) falls at 27 Scorpio in the nativity, and has been active at key points in Newt’s life. When he became House Speaker on 4 January 1995, Gingerich was conjoined by transit asteroid House (House of Representatives) at 23 Scorpio, Venus (popularity, self-worth, the “Lesser Benefic”) at 27 Scorpio and Pluto (personal transformation, power) at 29 Scorpio. When he resigned that office on 6 November 1998, transit Saturn (resignation, diminution, limitation) at 29 Aries was inconjunct natal Gingerich, and exactly squared transit Neptune (dissolution, anonymity) at 29 Capricorn, which was sextile Gingerich.
When Gingrich formally announced his presidential candidacy on 11 May 2011, transit Gingerich at 27 Taurus was conjunct the transit Sun at 20 Taurus and exactly opposed natal Gingerich, with a rare triple conjunction of Mercury (announcements), Venus (fundraising) and Jupiter (politics) all at 24 Aries in trine. And when his entire campaign staff quit on June 9, transit Neptune at 0 Pisces was in square to natal Gingerich, reflecting both the aides’ disillusionment with the candidate, and the resulting confusion for the campaign.
Wither Gingrich? Probably not the White House. On Election Day 2012, asteroids Gingerich and Newtonia are in exact square from 1 Scorpio to 1 Leo, with Saturn (frustration, limitation, loss) at 3 Scorpio conjoined Gingerich, and asteroid Washingtonia at 3 Aquarius creating a tense T-Square. How long can Gingrich avoid the inevitable? Analysts say he can probably ride it out into September before the financial crunch in the campaign forces his withdrawal. But the Solar Eclipse of July 1 2011 at 9 Cancer falls closely on his natal asteroid Newtonia, so the smart astro-money is on a midsummer exit.