Well, I was going to write a review of a book I finished this week. But then Newt Gingrich owned CNN host John King and subsequently went on to dominate the South Caroline primary, and that prompted me to say a couple of things on Facebook about the man. What resulted was the typical time-suck debate which I usually feel like I win but which usually takes more effort than it should.
When I explain the logic of a math problem to my child, her eyes light up and she gets it. When I try to explain the illogic and hypocrisy behind Republican policies to certain friends, their eyes glaze over and they retreat to that corner of their minds where all the Limbaugh/Hannity/Coulter/Fox News/Boortz talking points reside. “But, but… Bill Clinton!” is one of my favorites. And don’t even get me started about this new “I don’t want to be held at gunpoint and forced to give my money to poor people” mantra that’s going around.
So the three arguments I got in defense of Newt Gingrich were:
1) But… but… Bill Clinton had an affair with that intern!
2) At least he (Newt) admitted to deceiving and cheating on his wives (note the plural). Herman Cain still hasn’t tacitly admitted it, and Bill Clinton didn’t even fess up under oath.
3) That’s all in the past.
OK. So first of all, if we’re talking about it all being in the past, then why bring up Clinton? That was in the past, too. Besides, Clinton reconciled with his wife and got on with his life - and I don’t recall him asking her for an open marriage and then kicking her to the curb when she said no. Add to that the fact that Clinton ISN’T currently running for President, and Gingrich is.
Also, and this is very important - just because one person does a thing, that doesn’t make it automatically excusable for another guy to do a thing. What Bill Clinton did was reprehensible, and I’ll even hang this on it: had Clinton NOT tainted his term as President with his purile indiscretion, Al Gore might have had a better legacy for his own Presidential bid, and might have won. Meaning that we WOULDN’T have had 8 years of Bush. Smoke THAT cigar, if you will.
Still, using Clinton’s screw-up as an reason to excuse Gingrich’s… how’s that work? It never worked for me when I was a kid.
“But Dad, Greg got caught playing with that girl’s boobies, too!”
Next - just because you admit to a thing doesn’t automatically excuse you either. I have a sneaking suspicion Gingrich didn’t just “own up” - that he got caught by both of his first wives and was more or less forced to come clean. Still, since we can’t prove that, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he DID go to them and admit his affair. So? He still divorced both wives and married his mistress. And so far he has shown ABSOLUTELY NO REMORSE for being an adulterer, a liar, and - if you consider that both ex-wives were seriously ill at the time - an unusually cruel and selfish human being.
Add to that his HYPOCRISY for gallantly decrying the reproachful behavior of President Clinton in 1998 WHILE he was simultaneously doing the same thing to then-wife #2.
Two key elements of atonement for your sin, as I understand it, are a certain level of remorse and a concerted effort not to repeat your offense. I don’t think that describes Newt, do you?
Finally, here’s the problem with the “that’s in the past” argument:
Yes. Yes it is. But here’s the thing - Newt already has a proven track record of being deceitful and hypocritical. Hell, just yesterday he admitted to spewing a bunch of bullshit during the previous debate. So… he admitted it! But he still DID it, without pause or remorse, and I’d be willing to bet he’d willingly do it again. Lie, that is. For his own profit and gain. He’s done it in the past, he’s a repeat offender, and yet….
And yet, people are still voting for him. When Clinton got elected in 1992, no one KNEW he was going to play hide the cigar with an intern and make blue dresses an object of scorn. When Cain rallied his initial group of supporters and seemed to be doing well in the Republican primaries, no one KNEW what possible skeletons were lurking in his closet. WE as voters and American citizens can be excused for making judgments regarding those two, because we didn’t know any better.
With Newt, we know better. And if we elect him, there is no excuse.