|Marianne Gingrich on Nightline last night, where she alleged Newt Gingrich wanted an "open marriage" with her while he was having an affair with current wife, Callista.|
Last night's latest installment of the GOP primary debate reality tv show was making headlines before the day was even over, due largely to the very first question of the evening. CNN Chief National Correspondent John King opened the debate by asking Newt directly about his ex-wife Marianne's allegations that he wanted an "open marriage" with his then-mistress Callista. Newt, with all the sanctimonious mock outrage he could possibly muster, then proceeded to take King and the entire news media industry to task for such a "despicable" act as bringing up his personal shortcomings in a debate setting. The crowd roared as Gingrich threw them the red meat, the beltway fell all over itself to laud Gingrich's response and the conservative media machine - apparently immune to the blanket of criticism Gingrich had just thrown over the entire industry - couldn't think of enough colorful adjectives to praise Newt fast enough. I mean, how dare the "elite media" attack Gingrich over his personal life? Gingrich's personal life doesn't have anything to do with whether or not he's capable of being president!
Except it does. It has everything to do with his ability to be president...
See, normally I might be inclined to agree with the former speaker on this subject. Personally, I don't think that what a person does in their private lives and how they conduct themselves in their relationships speaks to their capability of doing their job. For example, I don't wonder if the doctor performing surgery on me is a faithful husband, nor do I care. I don't worry if the chef who prepares my meal at a restaurant is in an open relationship - as long as he washes his hands before he touches my food.
However, when a political candidate runs on a platform of moral supremacy, when a candidate stands in judgement of the morality and character of others, when a candidate carries him or herself with an arrogance of superiority and act as if they are above reproach, then that changes things. In fact, that changes everything.
Normally, Gingrich being a serial philanderer and a lousy husband wouldn't affect my opinion of his ability to be president. Except, Gingrich holds himself up as an authority on the morality of the rest of the country. If you're going to throw stones - for lack of a better analogy - then you better make sure you're not living in a house made of glass. Gingrich's house has way too much glass in it for him to throw stones.
Gingrich personally believes that a president's marital infidelity is grounds to lose the job. I know this because he lead the witch hunt against Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal. So, according to Gingrich's own words and actions, a man who is unfaithful to his wife is not fit to hold the office of president. Considering Gingrich has cheated on his 2 ex-wives and is alleged by others to have cheated on current wife Callista, I think his personal life matters here.
Gingrich believes that gay marriage destroys the "sanctity of marriage" and is damaging to "families". As a man who has been twice divorced and thrice married and who essentially abandoned the children from his first marriage and had to be taken to court for child support, I think it's very appropriate to bring his own personal respect of the institution of marriage into question when he seeks to impose his own morality on others. Gingrich thinks that committed, monogamous gay couples are more damaging to the institution of marriage than a lying, cheating adulterer who allegedly sought an open marriage with his second ex-wife. His personal life matters in this case as well.
Gingrich believes honesty and integrity are essential qualifications for a candidate seeking the office of president. Therefore, it matters if he is dishonest and lacks integrity in his personal life.
So, when Gingrich begins to arrogantly climb on his high horse and condescend to the debate panelist du jour who dares to question him on his rich history of unethical, immoral and dishonest behavior like a pretentious old curmudgeon, he really has only himself to blame for the line of questioning he finds himself subjected to. He's the one who started throwing stones in his glass house, he can't get outraged when the falling glass cuts him.