Newt Interrupted – the Dark and Dangerous Vote in South Carolina
Like Brad Pitt, on Saturday the primary voters in South Carolina had a choice between a fresh faced All American, and a dark and dangerous beauty.
Dark and dangerous won the day.
For five years Pitt was married to Jennifer Aniston, who first became an American sweetheart with her starring role in Friends. Aniston is quite pretty and can be very funny, but apparently Pitt eventually found that his life with her lacked passion and had become… well… boring.
“It became very clear to me that… I wasn’t living an interesting life myself,” the box office star told Parade Magazine last September. ” I think that my marriage had something to do with it… trying to pretend the marriage was something that it wasn’t.”
Pitt famously ditched the Friends star in 2005 for the sultry Angelina Jolie. Despite her stunning good looks, a dispassionate evaluation of the star’s past would have made the choice seem like a risky decision. Jolie had dropped out of high school at age 14 with plans to become a funeral director, and while still in her teens suffered from suicidal depression which led to drug use and self-mutilation. She married for the first time at age 21 and went to the alter in black rubber pants and a white T-shirt, upon which she wrote the groom’s name in her own blood. Her involvement with drugs and depression continued, and she has spoken of the time, in 1997, when she considered hiring a hitman to kill her. After that marriage dissolved, Angelina remained troubled and spent three days in the UCLA psychiatric ward just before she married Billy Bob Thornton in 2000, a union that was notorious for the vials of each other’s blood the couple wore around their necks.
It would seem that her dangerous past would have warned off a prudent man, as the chances for a stable relationship would have seemed bleak.
Seven years later, Brangelina is still going strong. The former Hollywood wild child is now a model mother of six and renowned humanitarian. It seems that it can be safely said that she outgrew her earlier demons and matured into a caring, responsible mother and citizen.
It may be a stretch to see the portly figure of Newt Gingrich as Angelina Jolie in this metaphor, but between the primary choices offered to South Carolinians, surely Newt was the dark and dangerous vote. Mitt Romney has that All American, boy next door quality with a seemingly spotless pedigree, but like Jennifer Aniston he often comes across as dispassionate and boring, and a relationship with this candidate would require voters to pretend Mitt is a conservative, something that he clearly isn’t.
The comparison works better when Newt is evaluated for his intellectual prowess, not his physical beauty. He runs rings around his opponents in debates, and can shock the observer with the audacity of his positions and pronouncements. His dangerous past is well known: the marriages, the ex-wives, the dismissal from the speakership, the ethics charges, the liaisons with Nancy Pelosi, Al Sharpton and other dubious characters, the self-discipline issue.
Despite all this, the voters gave Gingrich a resounding victory in the Palmetto state. It seems they were willing to risk the safe, plastic harmony of a marriage with Mitt Romney for the breathtaking excitement that an affair with Newt Gingrich might provide. If it goes badly, the lows of a Gingrich candidacy could be difficult, but if he has truly exorcised his demons, the upside of a Gingrich presidency could make it all worth while.