What about Gingrich?
So, dear readers, Newt Gingrich has finally announced formally that he’s running for president. Newt built his political career from my home state, Georgia. I even reside in the district Newt represented during his final stint in D.C.
Prominent Georgia politicians have already lined up behind him. Newly elected Governor Nathan Deal has signed on, along with former Governor Sonny Perdue and longtime-beloved Georgian Zell Miller.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Newt is holding more political IOUs than three politicians could possibly use in one lifetime. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Newt’s parade of Georgia “supporters” ends up including every small-town Junior League and Garden Club president, from Atlanta to Valdosta to the Alabama line. Heck, Newt probably has little old ladies from the Daughters of the Confederacy in his political back pocket already.
Well, whoop-dee-doo. Praise the Lord and pass the hat.
What about Newt? Not for me.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me, dear readers. If Newt Gingrich were to win the Republican nomination for president, I would enthusiastically support him -- with my pen, my laptop, my phone, and my vote. Newt Gingrich, as president, would run circles around the guy the Democrats are stuck with. Newt could use just half his brain and still best the adolescent affirmative-action president. But in the primary, with a field of other fine candidates, Newt is nearly last on my list of contenders.
And I’ve got my reasons. Lots of ‘em.
I’ll start with the reason everyone with a working set of eyes and ears already knows about, from its sordid beginning to its begging-for-respectability-regained end -- that big, fat Scarlet A that sits upon Newt’s puffed-up chest wherever he goes a hobnobbing for votes. At the moment, I imagine that Newt Gingrich is having to trade his political IOUs at 3-to-1 value, just to make up for the big-A factor.
Newt recently converted to Catholicism -- my own faith -- but voting for a man has nothing whatsoever to do with forgiveness. As far as I’m concerned, Newt’s penance for his lifetime of debauchery is between himself and his confessor. And, frankly, I don’t want to know a thing about it.
For Democrats, of course, a lack of sexual self-control seems to be a bonus qualification for high office. But Republicans, thankfully, still appear to have a grain of common sense when it comes to understanding that private character failings can’t help but affect public-office performance.
Frankly, I’ve always considered known infidelity to be a deal-breaker for candidates I’m considering. I think that adultery and politics make forbidden bedfellows.
But it’s not because I give a flying flip what my candidates do in the privacy of their bedrooms. I don’t care and, again, I don’t want to know, either.
Adultery, however, is not the victimless crime that libertines suppose it is. The big, fat political no-no -- LYING -- is the kissing cousin of adultery, no matter who is shacking up with whom. It is impossible to imagine the adulterer who hasn't told a basketful of bold-faced lies to his spouse, or even his children, to cover up his foul deeds. Adulterers I’ve known, in order to cover their tracks, often lie to their friends, their extended families, their colleagues, and on and on. And I submit that it is far more difficult and conscience-challenging to lie to one’s closest partners and confidants -- and one’s own children, for crying out loud! -- than it is to lie to a vast public constituency of strangers.
Lying under oath, as President Bill Clinton did, was truly an impeachable offense. Clinton’s impeachment trial, however, was a circus. Gingrich, then speaker of the House, should have known he didn’t have the votes before he launched the thing. And Newt should have known the Clintons well enough to know they would fight like hell -- that Bill would never resign the way Nixon did.
But perhaps Newt's political instincts were dulled from overexertion in D.C. hotel rooms -- and the stress of keeping his own lies straight.