Newt Gingrich’s Family Values and the Politics of Infidelity

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The most successful cheaters are those astutely adept at manipulating fact, fiction, and opinion into whatever they want others to believe, primarily to suit their purpose. It is why I don’t find it hard to believe conservative political analysts and associates alike when they say, Newt Gingrich, a man with unquestionable expertise in the area of infidelity, “is one of the smartest people in politics.”

Upon further examination, it seems more likely that he is one of the smartest people in their political circle because they agree with and give credence to his ideology. What they consider brilliance is little more than masterful manipulation with words, actions, or both. And quite frankly, it takes a pretty smart person to pull it off for as long as Newt Gingrich has.

In politics, infidelity runs so deep that it is no longer considered a career ender when an affair is brought to light. Except, of course, if one has engaged in an affair of the toe tapping (Larry Craig), intern harassing (Mark Foley) homosexual variety. For Republicans, being outed as, or associated with anything gay is, by all accounts, “the” political career killer.

The winds of change shift every time a repentent bible thumber who has been exposed for adultery is forgiven, because they have repented and now have God on their side.

It should be noted that, at one time, adultery was an automatic disqualification for those who aspired to public and/or political office. This is no longer the case. Few people would agree that Newton Leroy Gringrich’s past serial adultery makes him unfit for the office of the presidency. No thanks due in part to former President William Jefferson Clinton who made famous the phrase, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” when every Congressman and their mother knew the omission was patently false.

Little known to most Americans until around 2007 was the true story of how Newt Gingrich, Republican Speaker of the House and one of the most powerful men in Washington at the time, was engaged in his own extramarital affair. He was in the midst of the affair when he, along with a slew of other red-handed hypocrites, headed Clinton’s impeachment proceedings. Under Gingrich’s direct leadership, the GOP launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign aimed at exposing Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky to the American people.

Newt had this to say about the revelation of his affair:

“The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge. I drew a line in my mind that said, ‘Even though I run the risk of being deeply embarrassed, and even though at a purely personal level I am not rendering judgment on another human being.’ As a leader of the government trying to uphold the rule of law, I have no choice except to move forward and say that you cannot accept … perjury in your highest officials.”

The difference lies in the fact that Newt didn’t deny his affair during testimony, while under oath, in a court of law. And because he was never asked he had absolutely no chance to deny the affair, nor did he have reason to admit to it. Admittedly, he is absolutely correct in the legal sense. Clinton was impeached because he lied while under oath, resulting from affairs with Linda Tripp, Paula Jones, Lewinsky and others, and not because he had sexual relationships with these women.

As one of the most recognized members of the GOP, the party best known for shouting its family values, morals, and the sanctity of marriage from the rooftops, Gingrich embodies American Conservativism. He also embodies that of a serial adulterer, sex addict, and your run of the mill misogynist.

Say what you will, but in the tumultuous world of politics, Newt is a survivor who can parlay with the best of them. He, at one time, vocally criticized every single wrongdoing of the Democratic Party to try to bring them down.

Of the big Republican and Democratic nominees pondering a run for the office of the President in 2008, a surprising number could have been considered, at one time or another, serial adulterers.

“Sen. John McCain (affair, divorce), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (affair, divorce, affair, divorce), and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (divorce, affair, nasty divorce). Gingrich even ran for office in ’78 under the slogan “Let Our Family Represent Your Family” while cheating on his wife. He would go on to divorce her following the election. Let’s not forget the despicable John Edwards (D) who carried on an affair and fathered a child while his wife fought the battle of her life against terminal breast cancer.

But back to Gingrich, whose affairs are most alluring because he frequently campaigned under the family values platform. A short timeline follows:

He divorced his second wife, Marianne, in 2000 after his attorneys acknowledged his affair with his current wife, Callista Bisek, a former congressional aide more than 20 years his junior. His first marriage, to former high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, ended in divorce in 1981. They married at 18, but he reportedly begins secretly dating her at the tender age of 16, while still in high school.

“The Cato Institute records that Gingrich “famously visited Jackie, his first wife, in the hospital where she was recovering from uterine cancer surgery to discuss details of the impending divorce. He later resisted paying alimony and child support for his two daughters, causing a church to take up a collection. For all of his talk of religious faith and the importance of God, Gingrich left his congregation over the pastor’s criticism of his divorce.”

After 18 years of marriage to his second wife, he asked for a divorce. He’d been having an affair with his soon to be, and current third wife, for 6 years prior. He decided to follow in her footsteps and convert to Roman Catholicism, after which time he was granted an annulment of his second marriage of 18 years. The reason for the annulment was that his former wife had been previously married, and his current wife was active in the church, including singing in the choir, all the while sleeping with the married Gingrich. Apparently, annulment looks better on paper than divorce.

If Bill and Hillary Clinton’s marriage can be publicly dissected on the front page of every newsstand, why should the marital infidelities of other GOP and Democratic candidates be off limits?

The bottom line is this, what bothers most people about Gingrich is not that he cheated on his first wife while she was sick, and his second wife while she was sick, but it is that he had and still has the gall to get on a national podium and lecture the rest of us about family values and morality. He’s not a big fan of taking his own advice.

How can you lecture anyone about the sanctity of marriage while so blatantly ignoring those very ideals yourself? We can all agree that infidelity does not disqualify a man or woman from public office, nor should it. We’d be unable to run the country if that were the case, but it does disqualify them from making lectures and soap box speeches that point to that very thing. It’s his glaring hypocrisy that knows no bounds, and speaks to a character lacking integrity. It’s his defense of “the sanctity of marriage,” and his anti-same sex marriage stance. Here is a man who clearly has no respect for marriage’s sanctity outside of it being an institution that suits him whenever he feels fit, and when his wife, whoever she may be at the time, is without illness.

President “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Gingrich? Ugh. Will a serious GOP candidate please stand up? Republicans will have to come a lot better than this.

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