Newt Gingrich: Hospital Divorce Story Is A Lie, Except That It Isn’t
GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich (oh how I love typing that!) is fighting hard to negate much of the baggage that will bedevil him over the coming year. Like the story of how he accosted his first wife with divorce matters while she was recovering from surgery at a hospital.
To try and rewrite that bit of his sordid history, Newt enlisted his daughter Jackie, who was 13 at the time of the incident, and apparently claims no talk of divorce occurred at that hospital visit.
For years, I have thought about trying to correct the untrue accounts of this hospital visit. After all, I was at the hospital with them, and saw and heard what happened. But I have always hesitated, as it was a private family matter and my mother is a very private person.
So what did she see and hear at that hospital visit?
[H]ere’s what happened:My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested.
Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother.
She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor.
The tumor was benign.
As with many divorces, it was hard and painful for all involved, but life continued.
Notice anything missing? Yeah, pretty much everything that happened at that visit. And there’s a reason she might want to skip any details. They were as nasty as advertised. Here’s her mother recounting the (then-unchallenged) event to a reporter for the Washington Post, Jan. 3, 1985 (ellipses are in the original article):
“He can say that we had been talking about [divorce] for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise,” says Jackie Gingrich, in a telephone interview from Carrollton. “He’s a great wordsmith . . . He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery . . . To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.”
Yup. The reality is a lot harsher than the new sanitized version Newt and his daughter are peddling. A Newsweek reporter actually challenged Gingrich on this:
When the subject came up in my conversation with Gingrich, he urged me to read Jackie’s column. I told him that I had, and suggested that the actual story of that day, as recalled in contemporaneous accounts, was more complicated. Jackie, a cancer survivor, was in the hospital for the removal of a tumor, which proved benign. According to the Gingriches’ pastor at the time, the Rev. Brantley Harwell, Gingrich brought his daughters to visit their mother, and while he was there, he began discussing particulars of the proposed divorce settlement—“division of property, alimony, that kind of thing,” Harwell would recall. (Harwell, who recounted his version of events in 1995, died this summer.) A bitter argument ensued, which Jackie later discussed with her pastor and others.
So how does Newt square away his new claim that the hospital story is a big lie, with the fact that it wasn’t?
“I haven’t disputed that there was an angry discussion,” Gingrich says now. “We got into an argument. Now, how many people do you know going through a divorce end up occasionally getting into arguments? That then got spun into its worst possible interpretation.”
Well, so much for claiming that story was a lie.
By: Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, Daily Kos, December 12,2011