“Truth is known by God and the rest of us seek it.”
—Newt Gingrich, the day after he asked his sick wife for a divorce
Likely lying in his marriage bed, next to his extra-marital lover, Newt Gingrich would phone his wife of many years, Marianne, and tell her he loved her.
And how sweet too is the right-wing’s reaction to Marianne Gingrich’s charge that her husband was not just a cheater, but a hypocrite, who the day after he asked her for a divorce, spoke before the Republican Women Leaders Forum about “The Demise of American Culture.” “How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people? she asked.
In that speech on American culture, Gingrich blamed liberals for the Columbine shooting. Later he would blame liberals and Democrats for the tragedy at Virginia Tech and for Susan Smith drowning her two children. One of the reasons he gave was that liberals “created a situation ethics.”
On Thursday night, when CNN’s John King opened the GOP debate with a question about Marianne Gingrich’s charge that her husband asked her “to enter into an open marriage,” Gingrich, indignantly, turned on King:
I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that…
Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine…
I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate… The story is false…I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.
For that, the white Christian crowd gave him a standing ovation.
There are those of us out here in the non-Republican world who don’t understand that reaction. We don’t understand how a man who promotes the religion of Jesus can stand on a stage, as he runs for the highest office in our land, and instead of saying to the world that he was wrong so long ago, that he made a grave mistake, that he is sorry, could instead turn and attack the press, and essentially call his wronged wife a liar in front of the world.
We also don’t understand how a crowd full of Christians can raucously applaud a man who not only made a fool of his wife, but made a fool of them by mocking them with his lifestyle. Even if, in their estimation, he deserves forgiveness, did he deserve an ovation?
Sarah Palin, who has made a fine living off the pious sentiments of folks on the right, said that the “dumbarse” media’s featuring of “a disgruntled ex” would cause Newt’s campaign “to soar even more.” You see, in Sarah Palin’s mind Marianne Gingrich is nothing more than a disgruntled ex, nothing more than an obstacle in Newt Gingrich’s way. She is not worthy of Jesus-loving Sarah Palin’s sympathy, of God-fearing Sarah Palin’s compassion.
Rush Limbaugh, as close to a national leader as the GOP has, hid his thoughts behind a “a good friend” of his, who allegedly sent him a note that read:
So Newt wanted an open marriage. BFD. At least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her. That’s a mark of character, in my book. Newt’s a victim. We all are. Ours is the horniest generation. We were soldiers in the sex revolution. We were tempted by everything from Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice to Plato’s Retreat, Deep Throat to no-fault divorce. Many of us paid the ultimate price, AIDS, abortion, or alimony for the cultural marching orders we got. Hell, for all I know we should be getting disability from the government….Newt’s slogan ought to [be], “Hell, yes, I wanted it.”
“Newt’s a victim.” Astonishingly, a bit later Limbaugh himself came close to blaming the real victim:
I think, of what we’ve seen so far from the Marianne Gingrich stuff, the thing I didn’t know… that Newt had asked for an open marriage…Most of the other stuff, I did know. I also know that Marianne Gingrich… I’ve been places shortly after Newt was made Speaker with Mary, social weekends and so forth, and she was never comfortable with the public eye — and that bothered him. He thought it limited his future.
She didn’t like the media, she didn’t like the focus on her life, so she just wasn’t comfortable with the public eye — and I know that he said, “Well, you knew what you were marrying.” So there’s two sides to all this..
It “bothered” Newt that his second wife “was never comfortable with the public eye.” So gingerly does Rush Limbaugh tiptoe around justifying Newt’s betrayal, his stunning lack of faithfulness. Gingrich twice divorced women who were sick and demanded of at least one of them that they share him with other women or else, and for this Limbaugh and Palin and the crowd of Christians in Charleston essentially celebrated him, affirming if not his infidelity, his indignation.
Look, if Newt Gingrich didn’t frequently stand in the streets and beat his Christian chest in righteous anger, if he didn’t haughtily shout from every housetop how morally corruptive is the liberal spirit, if he didn’t wave his flag of conservative morality in the face of Americans, then what he did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, to his ex-wives would be between them.
But he does hawk his moral wares in the public square and he has indicted liberalism for nearly all the ills of society. But no liberal urged him to cheat on his first wife or forced him to lie about the nature of that divorce. No liberal joined him in bed with his lover and current wife Callista. No liberal put a gun to his head and forced him to phone his second wife, with Callista by his side, and tell her he loved her. No liberal tempted him to make a mockery of his faith.
The redemption of a human being is a beautiful thing in any context, religious or secular. Redemption is the solid core of Christianity, the summum bonum of Christian teaching, the raison d’être of the Incarnation. After Gingrich’s denial, Marianne Gingrich has reaffirmed her story and said her former husband never told her he was sorry. It seems to me, if the idea of Christian redemption means anything, if it is to maintain any respect in a civilized society, it ought to require of a man who seeks it to at least admit his crimes to the one he wronged and repent.
And those who say they believe in the religion of Jesus, but who have lately placed their faith in the Republican Party, ought to at least have the decency to sit quietly while a man on a stage who wants to be president refuses to humbly admit his sin and plead for mercy.