Daily Archives: November 27, 2011



Separated at Birth?

From a Pravda Q&A:

“Professor Pitney, you once wrote for Reason magazine that Gingrich was Whitmanesque. Do you stand by that assessment?

John Pitney :
Thanks for remembering! I would not compare him to Walt Whitman on a personal level, but “Song of Myself” (a Gingrichian title if ever there was one!) contains a number of passages that seem to apply. Here is one:
‘Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)’

“Multitudes” of what?

Let’s got to the Wiki.

“Walter “Walt” Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.”


“Born on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and–in addition to publishing his poetry–was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842). Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle.”


“Whitman’s sexuality is often discussed alongside his poetry. Though biographers continue to debate his sexuality, he is usually described as either homosexual or bisexual in his feelings and attractions. However, there is disagreement among biographers as to whether Whitman had actual sexual experiences with men.”

Oh Prunella! He was gayer than IKEA on Superbowl Sunday!

“Whitman was concerned with politics throughout his life. He supported the Wilmot Proviso and opposed the extension of slavery generally. His poetry presented an egalitarian view of the races, and at one point he called for the abolition of slavery, but later he saw the abolitionist movement as a threat to democracy.”

IOW he was a Centerist.

“Whitman’s sexuality is generally assumed to be homosexual or bisexual based on his poetry, though that has been at times disputed. His poetry depicts love and sexuality in a more earthy, individualistic way common in American culture before the medicalization of sexuality in the late 19th century.Though Leaves of Grass was often labeled pornographic or obscene, only one critic remarked on its author’s presumed sexual activity: in a November 1855 review, Rufus Wilmot Griswold suggested Whitman was guilty of “that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians”. Whitman had intense friendships with many men and boys throughout his life. Some biographers have claimed that he may not have actually engaged in sexual relationships with males, while others cite letters, journal entries and other sources which they claim as proof of the sexual nature of some of his relationships.”

“In paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto published — from the pleasures, profits, conformities,
Which too long I was offering to feed my Soul;
Clear to me now, standards not yet published — clear to me that my Soul,
That the Soul of the man I speak for, feeds, rejoices only in comrades;
Here, by myself, away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talked to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abashed — for in this secluded spot I can respond as I would not dare elsewhere,
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet contains all the rest,
Resolved to sing no songs to-day but those of manly attachment,
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing, hence, types of athletic love”

Sounds like an evening in the Central Park Ramble to me.

And then there’s —

“Whoever you are holding me now in hand,
Without one thing all will be useless,
I give you fair warning, before you attempt me further,
I am not what you supposed, but far different.

Who is he that would become my follower?
Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections? Are you he?

The way is suspicious — the result slow, uncertain, may-be destructive;
You would have to give up all else — I alone would expect to be your God, sole and exclusive,
Your novitiate would even then be long and exhausting,
The whole past theory of your life, and all conformity to the lives around you, would have to be abandoned;
Therefore release me now, before troubling yourself any further — Let go your hand from my shoulders,
Put me down, and depart on your way.
Or else, only by stealth, in some wood, for trial,
Or back of a rock, in open air,
(for in any roofed room of a house I emerge not — nor in company,
And in the libraries I lie as one dumb, a gawk, or unborn, or dead,)
But just possibly with you on a high hill — first watching lest any person, for miles around, approach unawares,
Or possibly with you sailing at sea, or on the beach of the sea, or some quiet island,
Here to put your lips upon mine I permit you,
With the comrade’s long-dwelling kiss, or the new husband’s kiss,
For I am the new husband, and I am the comrade. “

“Peter Doyle may be the most likely candidate for the love of Whitman’s life, according to biographer David S. Reynolds.”


Woo and Hoo!

” Doyle was a bus conductor whom Whitman met around 1866 and the two were inseparable for several years. Interviewed in 1895, Doyle said: “We were familiar at once — I put my hand on his knee — we understood. He did not get out at the end of the trip — in fact went all the way back with me.” In his notebooks, Whitman disguised Doyle’s initials using the code “16.4”. A more direct second-hand account comes from Oscar Wilde. Wilde met Whitman in America in 1882 and wrote to the homosexual rights activist George Cecil Ives that there was “no doubt” about the great American poet’s sexual orientation — “I have the kiss of Walt Whitman still on my lips,” he boasted. The only explicit description of Whitman’s sexual activities is second hand. In 1924 Edward Carpenter,”



“then an old man, described an erotic encounter he had had in his youth with Whitman to Gavin Arthur, who recorded it in detail in his journal. Late in his life, when Whitman was asked outright if his series of “Calamus” poems were homosexual, he chose not to respond.”

Very Luke Evans


“Another possible lover was Bill Duckett.”



“As a young teenage boy he lived in on the same street in Camden and moved in with Whitman, living with him a number of years and serving him in various roles. Duckett was fifteen when Whitman bought his house at 328 Mickle Street. Since, at least 1880, Duckett and his grandmother, Lydia Watson, were boarders subletting space from another family at 334 Mickle Street. Due to this close proximity it is obvious that Duckett and Whitman met as neighbors. Their relationship was close, with the youth sharing Whitman’s money when he had it. Whitman described their friendship as “thick.” Though some biographers describe him as a boarder, others identify him as a lover. Their photograph [see above] is described as “modeled on the conventions of a marriage portrait,” part of a series of portraits of the poet with his young male friends, and encrypting male-male desire. Yet another intense relationship with a young man was the one with Harry Stafford, with whose family he stayed when at Timber Creek, and whom he first met when the young man was 18, in 1876. Whitman gave young Stafford a ring, which was returned and given back over the course of a stormy relationship lasting a number of years. Of that ring Stafford wrote to Whitman, “You know when you put it on there was but one thing to part it from me, and that was death.”
There is also some evidence that Whitman may have had sexual relationships with women. He had a romantic friendship with a New York actress named Ellen Grey in the spring of 1862, but it is not known whether or not it was also sexual. He still had a photo of her decades later when he moved to Camden and referred to her as “an old sweetheart of mine”.In a letter dated August 21, 1890 he claimed, “I have had six children — two are dead”. This claim has never been corroborated.”

Well it all depends on what you mean by “had,” doesn’t it?

” Toward the end of his life, he often told stories of previous girlfriends and sweethearts and denied an allegation from the New York Herald that he had “never had a love affair”. “

Two different things.

“As Whitman biographer Jerome Loving wrote, “the discussion of Whitman’s sexual orientation will probably continue in spite of whatever evidence emerges.”

Or not.

Meanwhile as to his “double” —

“Name: Newt Gingrich (b. Newton Leroy Gingrich)
DOB: June 17, 1943 (shares a birthday with King Edward I,”


M.C. Escher,


“Barry Manilow)”


“Aliases: the Professor, the Architect, Mr. Speaker
Experience: Represented Georgia’s 6th Congressional District from 1979 to 1999. Served as minority whip in 1989, Time’s “Man of the Year” in 1995, and speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. Engineered the Contract With America and the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. After Republicans lost five seats in the 1998 midterm elections, Gingrich resigned his speakership and his seat, telling several colleagues during a conference call, “I’m willing to lead, but I’m not willing to preside over people who are cannibals.”
Hangups: fidelity, the 24-hour media cycle, fund raising, shiny things.”

Speaking of the first of which. . .

“Personal freedom: Opposes gay marriage; said in 2011 that recent political victories for LGBT community show America is “drifting toward a terrible muddle which I think is going to be very, very difficult and painful to work our way out of.”

Newtie knows a lot about “drifting.”

“Gingrich has been married three times. In 1962, he married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old and she was 26.Gingrich and Battley have two daughters from this marriage: Kathy Gingrich Lubbers is president of Gingrich Communications, and Jackie Gingrich Cushman is an author, conservative columnist, and political commentatorwhose books include 5 Principles for a Successful Life, co-authored with Newt Gingrich. In the spring of 1980, Gingrich left Battley after having an affair with Marianne Ginther. In 1984, Battley told the Washington Post that the divorce was a “complete surprise” to her. According to Battley, in September 1980, Gingrich and their children visited her while she was in the hospital, recovering from surgery, and Gingrich wanted to discuss the terms of their divorce. Gingrich has disputed that account. In 2011, their daughter, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, said that it was her mother who requested the divorce, that it happened prior to the hospital stay, and that Gingrich’s visit was for the purpose of bringing the couple’s children to see their mother, not to discuss the divorce.
According to L.H. Carter, his campaign treasurer, Gingrich said of Battley: “She’s not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer.” Gingrich has denied saying it. His supporters dismiss Carter as a disgruntled former aide who was miffed at not being asked to accompany Gingrich to Washington.
Six months after the divorce from Battley was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther in 1981. In the mid-1990s, Gingrich began an affair with House of Representatives staffer Callista Bisek, who is 23 years his junior. They continued their affair during the Lewinsky scandal, when Gingrich became a leader of the investigation of President Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with his alleged affairs. In 2000, Gingrich married Bisek shortly after his divorce from second wife Ginther. He and Callista currently live in McLean, Virginia. In a 2011 interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network Gingrich addressed his past infidelities by saying, “There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
A Southern Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich converted to Catholicism, Bisek’s faith, on March 29, 2009. He said “over the course of several years, I gradually became Catholic and then decided one day to accept the faith I had already come to embrace.
The moment when he decided to officially become a Catholic was when he saw Pope Benedict XVI on his visit to the United States in 2008: “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.” Gingrich has stated that he has developed a greater appreciation for the role of faith in public life following his conversion, and believes that the United States has become too secular. At a 2011 appearance in Columbus, Ohio, he said, “In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life.”

But as much as Newtie may claim to long for the “Good Old Days”

his life as a serial adulterer






– isn’t redolent of “Family Values.”

But True Newterians remain undeterred.

“”I think Newt’s always been supremely pragmatic,” says former Conservative Opportunity Society ally Vin Weber. “[F]or a long time, [that] simply meant keeping your mouth shut and going along. If pragmatic is defined more literally as doing what it takes to succeed, Newt’s always been pragmatic.” Newt Gingrich is a risk taker, but he is also a practicing politician. In 1986, he acknowledged that “you can trim some programs and you can kill some programs, but the first duty of a political coalition is to sustain its majority.”
This pragmatism has cropped up on a number of issues.
In Window of Opportunity, Gingrich singled out theUnited Auto Workers as a praiseworthy, progressive union. He also wrote: “There are times and places when specific protectionist steps are appropriate: protectionism can defend an industry vital to national defense, can buy time for an industry to make adjustments to a sudden change in its environment, and can bludgeon a trading partner to force it to engage in fair trade.” These comments, which clashed with GOP skepticism toward unions and its free trade ideology, reflected local concerns: Gingrich’s district at the time included two auto plants, and protectionist sentiment was running high in Georgia.”

In contrast to–


“In 1985, Gingrich persuaded Delta Air Lines to take reservations for Air Atlanta, the largest black-owned airline. Reporter Nicholas Lemann said: “Many conservatives would recoil in horror at the thought of politicians pressuring a company into a decision for reasons of race rather than efficiency; in the conservative movement racial quotas, minority business set-asides, and the like are at the top of the list of evils right now.” In this case, Gingrich’s intervention served two practical purposes: improving the GOP’s image in the black enterprise community and serving a local business interest.”

Sounds like a threat to —


provided one takes that



“In 1992, during a difficult primary, Gingrich argued that Republicans should support him because he could bring home more federal benefits. Columnist George Will observed, “Gingrich may have saved his career as a professional legislator, but he ended his career as the scourge of the ‘corruption’ of the welfare state in the hands of career legislators.” When an interviewer presented him with such examples of position shifting, he responded: “Oh, you can find more examples of chameleon-like behavior like that. Look, I believe in pragmatism. But it’s tautological. Conservatism works. The work ethic works. Strength works. The free market works. Focusing on learning works. Preventive health works. So I can tell you with a straight face I am pragmatic, and as a result I am driven to conservatism. But I am not dogmatic. I think if non-conservatism works, I’ll look at it, too. It just doesn’t work as well. Such pragmatism is fine for a split-the-difference Republican such as Bob Dole or Bob Michel, but it is a most peculiar attitude for a revolutionary. Try to picture Lenin saying, “If czarism works, I’ll look at it.”

Here’s a picture for ya!


“Pragmatism also holds a more immediate political risk. In 1992, Gingrich told Republican congressional candidates in Georgia not to pledge their support to the unpopular George Bush in case a three-way election went to the House. In 1996, he told marginal Republican incumbents to “do what gets you re-elected,” even if that meant ignoring Bob Dole. If the Democrats score direct hits on Gingrich over ethics or other issues, he will be looking for allies. He may not find them among Republicans who have fully absorbed his lessons about pragmatism.”

And he’ll find them among Democrats?

Yeah, right

Sing us out Barry.