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Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2011

GINGRICH'S PATRIOTISM LED HIM TO CHEAT ON HIS WIVES.... It seems likely that disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) realizes his scandalous personal life will affect his presidential ambitions. The question, then, is what he intends to do about it.

He's not the first presidential candidate to run as an admitted adulterer, but Gingrich's past -- multiple wives, multiple affairs, divorces under painful circumstances -- is arguably the ugliest of any presidential hopeful in American history. As David Frum noted, "It's not the infidelity. It's the arrogance, hypocrisy, and -- most horrifying to women voters -- the cruelty. Anyone can dump one sick wife. Gingrich dumped two."

Aware of his problem, Gingrich has a new line to explain his misdeeds. Here's the explanation he offered radical TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. (thanks to R.B. for the tip)

"There's no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate. And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn't trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them."

If Gingrich thinks the public will find this persuasive, he's completely lost his mind.

He cheated on his wives, in part because he worked "too hard" for the country? His excuse for a scandalous personal life is patriotism?

To be sure, I'm inclined to draw a distinction between Gingrich's private life and his public life, and my concerns about his role in politics have far more to do with his bizarre policy ideas than his offensive personal misconduct.

But this is relevant, not only because he's seeking the votes of moralists, but also because Gingrich is claiming a certain moral high ground, literally lecturing Americans about religious values, while condemning others' personal lives.

Even for Gingrich, this is just remarkable. The guy haggled over the terms of his divorce from his first wife while she was in the hospital, recovering from uterine cancer surgery. He had already proposed to his second wife before he was divorced from his first. In the '90s, it happened again. Gingrich had an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide -- while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton -- and asked his third wife to marry him before he was divorced from his second, who was also ailing.

And yet, Gingrich still feels comfortable running around saying things like, "The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage."

John McCain was able to go through the entire 2008 campaign without having to address his previous adultery. Gingrich, whose past is far worse by comparison, won't be nearly as fortunate.

Steve Benen 12:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

Loving his country woman by woman.

Posted by: kd bart on March 9, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK
If Gingrich thinks the public will find this persuasive, he's completely lost his mind.

The only thing that Gingrich could say that I would believe is if he said "I am a liar".

Posted by: nerd on March 9, 2011 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Does this mean that Newt wrapped his women's faces in an american flag when they had sex?

Posted by: Gandalf on March 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Gringrich has been trying to surf Toffler's Third Wave for some time now even though he's been washed over in a wipe-out and now is merely leashed to a broken board!

Appropriate campaign slogan for Newty:

Ovarian cancer survivors for Gingrich 2012! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

As with the modesty befitting a monarch , Gingrich has broached that territory once the sole preserve of mighty kings , father of his country .

Posted by: FRP on March 9, 2011 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Newt:
"I'm such a patriot, that when I met a woman I liked and wanted to sleep with, I threw a flag over her face, and screwed her for "Old Glory!"

This excuse isn't just lame, it's CRIPPLED!!!

Oy yoi yoi.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 9, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still holding out for Newt -Palin 2012 , could break new records in gender gap voting.

Posted by: JCT on March 9, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

I propose a new Godwin rule. Use of the phrase, " situation ethics" indicates the argument is lost.

Posted by: foghorn on March 9, 2011 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Ahem. Quote. "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." Unquote.

Posted by: MattF on March 9, 2011 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I now pose a more serious question: Just how many of those so-called "values voters" are aware of Newt's moral turpitude? And who will enlighten them?

If past performance is an indicator, none of his Republican opponents will raise the subject, fearing they will receive return fire from the "disgraced former speaker".

Posted by: DAY on March 9, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

But I thought teh gays were responsible for the destruction of traditional man-woman marriage? I checked with Gay Central, and they tell me that the responsibility for the breakup of Newt's first marriage was assigned to two World War II vets currently living together in Iowa. The second marriage breakup was assigned to a couple of Lesbians raising their children in Miami.

Posted by: Eeyore on March 9, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of those employee evaluation forms where you are required to list an "area for improvement." A common one is - "Sometimes I care about the job so much that I push myself too hard."

Posted by: Virginia on March 9, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

Yes I am a cheating liar, but the democratic librals are worse!

Huh?

Maybe we should just have the WWF choose our presidential runners.

The sleazier the better.

Bring on the fornicators. Bring on the tea-baggers. Oops this is a civilized blog.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 9, 2011 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

As quoted (as opposed to as spoken) Newt doesn't say he did anything for or because of his country.

Apparently, he was just overwhelmed by the love of his country and was just working too hard (doesn't say at what) and then things happened in his life that weren't appropriate.

He didn't do things inappropriate, things happened that were. Not his fault.

I don't care enough to look up the time lines of when he was married, screwing around, dumping and remarrying, but they can't all have been while he was "working too hard."

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone have a giant tube of Preparation H ? Someone, anyone, should mercifully spread it all over this hissing hemorrhoid called Gingrich. That would solve the problem right there

Posted by: stormskies on March 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Mr Gingrich has admitted his mistakes. This is a non-issue now. If liberals want to discuss personal failings, they should be discussing Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Al on March 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Newt's a patriotaholic. If he doesn't admit to it, it's inevitable he'll end up getting another blow job from a campaign aide in the front seat of his car.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 9, 2011 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Newt paraphrases JFK- "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask who you can do for your country."

Posted by: danimal on March 9, 2011 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gandalf,
Ooops, you beat me to it as I was typing.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 9, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone can dump one sick wife..."

did From really say that? Wow! republicans are cretins.

Posted by: pluege on March 9, 2011 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

"i only regret that i have but one erection to give to my country"

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 9, 2011 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

So, Gingrich is saying it was okay for him to cheat because of patriotism and the stress of the job. Shouldn't, by your line of reasoning, Bill Clinton have been given the same courtesy then, Newt? I mean, being President of the United States is more patriotic and stressfull than any other government job, right?

In all seriousness, in the annals of GOP cheaters and hypocrites, Newt Gingrich really is in a class all by himself. I'm reminded of the recent Esquire article on him when he tells his wife "it doesn't matter what I do" or "how I live" because no one else can do what he does. He really thinks because he's chosen by God or something that he's above the laws and morality of everyone else and can do whatever the hell he wants and it won't matter. And the sad thing is, that view seems pervasive in a lot of the GOP today (read; Mark Sanford, John Ensign and the C-Street "Family").

Posted by: gf120581 on March 9, 2011 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

The line I recall the right using from the Clinton years was "If he can't be trusted to uphold his marriage oath, how can he be trusted to uphold his oath of office?"

Here's hoping someone asks Newt.

Posted by: martin on March 9, 2011 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Well I hope he works softer now. Much softer. Wouldn't want his passion for screwing the working man to get him all hard again. . .

Posted by: Sparko on March 9, 2011 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

The real message here is that Newt was saying 'The devil did NOT make me do it' and Pat immediately granted him a pass.

Hey Al, Newt was philandering at the same time he was trying to impeach Clinton for philandering! Thanks for reminding us that he is a pathetic lying hypocrit as well as a serial philanderer.

Posted by: robert on March 9, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well, if anyone knows about "active instruments", apparently it's Newt.

Posted by: Tom Allen on March 9, 2011 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry Mr Gingrich. I'm still not convinced you love America. Maybe another 3 or 4 infidelities will sway me.

Posted by: E. Reed on March 9, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

What Pimp Daddy Newt really means to say is:

Pimpin' hoes is my bidness and bidness is good. All true pimps know that if yo ho is to sick to get out there on dat stroll, you gotta turn out another be-eye-itch!

Pimpin' ain't easy, and I don't love none of dees hoes more than I love dees nuts.

Posted by: Trollkiller on March 9, 2011 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

"If Gingrich thinks the public will find this persuasive, he's completely lost his mind."

Of course he is. But that's been the case for years.

Posted by: Vandal on March 9, 2011 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that the followup question Newt needs to be asked is "So, you say you couldn't handle the stress of being Speaker of the House; why should anybody think you could handle being President?"

Posted by: Rich McA on March 9, 2011 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

"how passionately I felt about this country"

It's more like how passionate he felt about himself. Any man who insists the world must hear and adopt his ideas for its redemption is not a man to be President of anything except his own fan club.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on March 9, 2011 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I was waiting for someone to back Newty into a corner to force a response. And that response was just as flaccid as I expected. Is anyone checking to see with whom he is cheating on Callista at the moment??

Posted by: Sarafina on March 9, 2011 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

what a slimeball.

Posted by: g on March 9, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

His personal marital issues are only part of his problem. He has an overwhelming "ick factor." Everything about him, his looks, his voice, his attitude, his behavior, is creepy.

Posted by: SaintZak on March 9, 2011 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

So, to keep your libido in check, you will not work so hard for your country as POTUS? Why would I vote for a man (or woman) who is willing to sacrifice his country for the sake of living a balanced life? We don't want balanced, sane, compassionate Presidents; we want committed, driven, uncompromising authoritarians to rule us as we are incapable of taking responsibility for our own lives. Teach me, guide me, direct me, control me. I am incapable of self-control.

/snark/

Posted by: st john on March 9, 2011 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Wonder what wifey 3 thinks about all this. She's got a pretty big piece of the Newt income/propaganda generation scheme so he's gonna be screwed more when he decides it time to "look around". When this one goes south, the fireworks will be a little bigger.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 9, 2011 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Newt knows what he is doing. Note that he is pitching this bullshit to Pat Robertson on CBN.

That crowd of imbeciles has the shallowest gene pool on earth.

It won't win him the nomination (he doesn't want it), but I'm sure he'll get these morons to give him a few million more.

I repeat, Sarah Palin took a page from Newt's playbook. It's ALL about the money.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 9, 2011 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"how passionately I felt about this country"

No, I can't help myself. Kids, stop reading right here.

I'm pretty sure he said, "how passionately I felt about this cunt."

Posted by: Tom Allen on March 9, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Given that he divorced wife 1 after she developed cancer and wife 2 after she developed MS, it is appropriate to ask him if he and Calista struck the line "in sickness and in health" from their marriage vows.

Posted by: rk on March 9, 2011 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

The question is this: Do I love my country enough to bang that really hot [insert pronoun for person of appropriate sex] I met yesterday? I really really love my country. Really. And that [person of appropriate sex] was really hot. Star spanglin' hot, if you know what I mean.

Posted by: TheOtherJim on March 9, 2011 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

He "runs" for president the same way Pat Buchanan runs for president - just keeping the name out there, for more book deals, speaking fees and think tank sinecures.

Newt knows he can't win. Mr. Benen knows that too, so I always wonder why the coverage...

Apparently, we're all wannabe political operatives, crafting the Dem party messaging, or the idiot dupes who buy it.

Posted by: flubber on March 9, 2011 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's official. Patriotism is the final refuge of a scoundrel. Imagine this fool in the White House and his pretzel logic responses to real problems. Yikes.

Posted by: max on March 9, 2011 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

On a more mature and literary note -- and one as appropriate today as it has ever been -- I'll add this:

“In Dr. Johnson’s famous dictionary patriotism is defined as the last resort of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.”—Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.

Posted by: Tom Allen on March 9, 2011 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

In the days of Viet Nam, it was "Kill for Christ." In Newt's day, it was "Screw for the U.S.A."

Posted by: Jim Quince on March 9, 2011 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

What a dirtbag.

Posted by: David on March 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Imagine this fool in the White House and his pretzel logic responses to real problems. Yikes. - max @ 14:24

Imagine? Where were you exactly during the previous administation? (I know we forget so fast but a hint; it lasted 8 insufferable years)

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on March 9, 2011 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Quitter / Quitter 2012!!

Posted by: Kill Bill on March 9, 2011 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Newty:

I put my country before my countries women and I put unmarried women before the women I married.

Posted by: Kill Bill on March 9, 2011 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

yawn. newtie's infidelities are getting boring. we all know by now that he's a garden variety, run of the mill, c.p.o.s. let's move on. how about how this lapel pin wearing, bumper sticker patriot skated viet nam with all those deferments.

Posted by: jim f. on March 9, 2011 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Wow !!!

Newt has really got a pair on him to make this claim! I mean WOW !!

Posted by: Darsan54 on March 9, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:
Imagine this fool in the White House and his pretzel logic responses to real problems. Yikes. - max @ 14:24

Imagine? Where were you exactly during the previous administation? (I know we forget so fast but a hint; it lasted 8 insufferable years)"

Please try not to make our heads explode by mentioning W and Gingrich together. By the way, I was in a Medicare policy position when that imbecile shut down the government in '94. I know all about him and his ilk from trying to protect seniors during Bubba's last six years. Have you noticed he's gotten worse.

Posted by: max on March 9, 2011 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but kd bart, with the very first post "Loving his country woman by woman.", unconditionally won the thread.

Posted by: john c on March 9, 2011 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

But getting him to admit his affair with Karl Rove will ultimately destroy him yet they were destined for each other.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 9, 2011 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Newt Gingrich: Loving his country, one woman at a time...

Posted by: Bill on March 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

So being passionately in love with your country makes you sleep with women other than your wife? So being passionate about America is a bad thing, then, right? I mean, it logically follows.

Posted by: Herr Rohm on March 9, 2011 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, what an incredibly stupid thing to say.

Which is to say that he should communicate well with the typical GOP primary voter.

Posted by: JD on March 9, 2011 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

kd writes: "Loving his country woman by woman."

More like screwing us one by one.

Posted by: TJ Parker on March 9, 2011 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

max @ 17:03

Your right, sorry about bring that up. It was a reactionary response. What we've been through tempers my optimism for the future. I fear for my country.

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on March 9, 2011 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you have no need to apologise for criqueing this. If G wasn't discussing it then perhaps, but he is offering up terrible ethical arguments. They need to be examined.

Posted by: Chris Dornan on March 10, 2011 at 1:18 AM | PERMALINK

Now take it as read that I think Newt Gingrich is a moral cripple and an execrable human being and that I wouldn't trust him with a puppy much less a country.

But I think you're misconstruing what he implied. He seems to blame his hard work on patriotism and his philandering on his hard work. Splitting hairs? Perhaps, but his comments are a little more nuanced than you're letting on.

Posted by: AMB on March 10, 2011 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, he's a disgusting life form, but this stuff has been common knowledge for a long, long time and the right still lionizes him. The problem isn't Newtie, anymore than the problem was Hitler. The problem is all the "good Germans" who vote their own single issues and, much worse, all those who might disagree but are too apathetic to care - until somebody comes for them.

Posted by: Katroy on March 10, 2011 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Gov. Huckabee has an explanation for Speaker Gingrich's errant personal behavior, from his storehouse of values-voter nonsense. Perhaps it is along the lines of Newt not being a 'real' American - since Gingrich was, as a matter of record, born in Finland and has strong Finnish nationalist feelings, stemming from his father's experience as an anti-Stalin rebel who came to hate the United States for its failure to respond to Soviet oppression of Finland. No, no, no, silly me, it was Lithuania. I misspoke. Of course, of course. Newt's problem is his anti-American heritage.

Posted by: wesfromga on March 10, 2011 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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