As Newt Gingrich laments his descent from the highest polling of all the Republican presidential candidates, at least in Iowa, to 4th place, the Enneagram has a great deal to offer in our understanding of the steep and slippery slope on which Newt glides. Rather than going into great detail about his biographic history, and his behavior over time and what this indicates about his probable type, many conservative columnists made revealing and remarkably consistent comments about his persona. And from the combination of these, it is fairly easy to make a convincing assessment of his ennea-type. What is remarkable is that these columnists, all conservatives like Gingrich, have such a dislike for him.
Here’s what the conservative journals and journalists say:
Peggy Noonan (journalist for the Wall Street Journal) calls Gingrich “a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin.”
David Brooks (columnist for the New York Times) describes Gingrich’s “narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance.”
Yuval Levin (National Review website) writes about Gingrich as having “a revolutionary disposition: he has great intensity and energy, no discipline whatsoever, can be almost unbelievably erratic and unfocused, and is un-ironically conceited.”
Michael Gerson (Washington Post columnist) says, “He is seized by temporary enthusiasms. He combines absolute certainty in any given moment with continual reinvention over time.”
Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post columnist) comments, “Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama’s – but, unlike Obama’s, is untamed by self-discipline.”
A National Review editorial raised issues about “his impulsiveness, his grandiosity, his weakness for half-baked (and not especially conservative) ideas; [and his] combined incendiary rhetoric with irresolute action.”
What Enneagram type is Gingrich? All of the above descriptions seem to indicate that he is an Enneagram Seven, likely functioning at a fairly low level of self-development whereby his ego trumps his wisdom and his impulses override discretion. Unpredictable, undisciplined, unfocused, impulsive, self-indulgent, narcissistic, irresolute, and more seem to describe lower functioning Sevens all too well. And when Sevens become stressed or anxious, they go into a fast downward spiral of their own making.
It is not a surprise that he rose and fell so rapidly; he was ill-prepared – even with his decades as a politician – for the assaults that would come his way or the tumult these would cause for his highly under-organized infrastructure he had not thought about needing to create.
What about his Enneagram subtype: is he a self-preserving Seven, a social, or a 1-1. The subtype – the specific way in which the passion associated with the type (for Sevens, the passion is gluttony) intersects with their dominant instinct – reveals a great deal about a person’s behavior and character.
In Gingrich’s case, my guess is that he is a self-preserving subtype Seven, and here is why. Self-preservation Sevens are the dealmakers, trying to take advantage of their opportunities (consider Gingrich’s lobbying endeavors once he left congress). According to Naranjo, self-preserving Sevens tend to be more round than the other two subtypes of Seven (a gluttony for food; one pundit said Gingrich would never be elected president because his body did not look good in a suit and this was a conservative political commentator) and also more jovial, as in trying to make others laugh (Gingrich certainly appears to be the jokester). Naranjo also says it’s the self-preserving Sevens, not the 1-1 Sevens, who have the most sexual relationships. Why? Because the 1-1 Seven lives in such a romantic dream that the dream is almost always better than the real thing. For the self-preserving Seven, you can never get too much, but you do have to keep switching partners to keep it interesting. In addition to Gingrich’s three marriages (the second two of which began as affairs with congressional staffers when he was still married to the prior wife), there are rampant testimonials about Newt’s other Capital Hill conquests!
It doesn’t appear that Iowa was Gingrich’s waterloo, and he appears to be absolutely full of fury that Romney (and Ron Paul) dared to inject such negativity into the campaign, bursting his bubble of possibilities when he was ahead in the polls: Shame on them for not caring enough about America to be positive!
We have not likely seen the last of Newt, but as my dear friend Donna said the other day, “I don’t think America is ready to elect a leprechaun as president.” Donna’s comment is more amazing not because she is bright and insightful and funny, but because she is a Republican.
Maybe you think I don’t like Gingrich, and that’s not true. I don’t like or dislike him, and I do find him more interesting than most politicians. This blog is more about how, if we don’t work on ourselves and when we pursue ego-gratification, we really don’t get what we truly want; we get the opposite. In Gingrich’s case, he may simply want to be taken seriously. Instead, he is looking the fool. Let’s see what happens in the New Hampshire Republican primary.