Today's caucus news appears to be the unexpected tears of...Newt Gingrich??
Newt Gingrich choked up while discussing his mother's struggle with mental illness during a town-hall meeting in Des Moines.
Gingrich was asked to speak about a time his mother affected him at the event sponsored by CafeMom, a social networking website for mothers.
"You'll get me all teary-eyed — Callista will tell you, I get teary-eyed every time we sing Christmas carols. My mother sang in the choir and loved singing in the choir," Gingrich said, referring to his wife, as he fought back tears.
"But I identify my mother with being happy, loving life, having a sense of joy in her friends, but what she introduced me to, is late in her life she ended up in a long-term-care facility.
She had bipolar disease, and depression, and she gradually acquired some physical ailments, and that introduced me to the issue of long-term care, which I did with [Former Nebraska Sen.] Bob Kerrey for three years, and that introduced me to the issue of Alzheimer's, which I did with Bob Kerrey for three more years, and my whole emphasis on brain science comes indirectly from dealing with the real problems of real people in my family," the former House Speaker continued, at moments stopping to cry.
The audience sympathetically cheered for Gingrich as he spoke about his mother.
"I do policy much easier than I do personal," Gingrich joked.
(btw, remember when Newt's mom was being interviewed by Connie Chung? And Connie Chung asked, what does Newt say about Hillary Clinton? And Newt's mom said she didn't want say? And Connie leaned in and said, oh it'll just between the two of us (and the large camera over my shoulder)? And Newt's mom leaned in and stage-whispered, "She's a b*tch?")
Everyone's reaction seems to be, wow, Newt's human. Well, that's the thing about politicians. They do come from somewhere, and not all of them born into the family business like the Bushes, Romneys, and Kennedys of the world.
Often Republican politicians are strivers with unhappy, or at least difficult, backgrounds who buried themselves in work to escape a depressing situation. Rick Perry grew up more poor and uncomfortable than any of the food stamp whiners on the welfare rolls today. Clarence Thomas and Herman Cain were even poorer, and had to survive Jim Crow, as well. Karl Rove had a periphrastic childhood that ended with his mother's suicide, and the discovery that he was adopted. Newt, apparently, was the product of a one-night stand, raised by an adoptive father who plainly resented having to take responsibility for another man's child. And so on.
Democrat politicians, of course, would kill for these sorts of tales of woe, and will embroider them when their boring lives aren't colorful enough. But, Republicans react to their miserable surroundings by burying themselves in their work in order to get the hell out. And once out, they want to pull other people out with them, rather than leave folks behind to collect government cheese.