Eyes For Newt

I have to admit a certain fondness for Newt Gingrich. No one is better at expounding conservative ideas and their historical background in ways that the average person can understand. I like watching him on talk shows.

On the other hand, Newt's personal life is far from consistent with the ideals he expresses so eloquently. Here is a nice summary from Wikipedia.

In 1962, Gingrich married Jackie Battley, his former high school geometry teacher, when he was 19 years old; she was seven years his senior at 26 years old.[4] They had two daughters together.

Anne Manning - who was also married - had an affair with Gingrich in 1977. Manning stated in a 1995 Vanity Fair article: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say: 'I never slept with her.'"[5]

Gingrich divorced Jackie Battley in 1980. Battley has charged that Gingrich discussed the terms of their divorce settlement while she was in the hospital after cancer surgery.[6] He refused to pay alimony or child support.[7]

Gingrich married Marianne Ginther in late 1981.[8] Marianne was quoted in a 1995 article in Vanity Fair as saying: "I don't want him to be president and I don't think he should be."[9] They divorced in 1999, the same year Gingrich had another extramarital affair with a then 33-year old member of his Congressional staff, Callista Bisek. He refused to discuss the affair until he admitted it in March, 2007.[10]

In August 2000, Gingrich married Bisek. Gingrich resides in Virginia with Bisek, who appears with him on the back cover of his book "Winning the Future".[11]

It is interesting that Newt was apparently using the oral-sex-isn't-really-sex argument long before Clinton in trouble for the same thing. So however correct he may be about many things, Newt isn't someone I would trust with a lot of power. Men who can't even keep wedding vows often find it easy to break promises to those who elect them.

This being the case, I was distressed today to hear that Gingrich admitted his infidelity in an interview with Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. This comes coincidentally (or not) with an invitation from Jerry Falwell for Gingrich to deliver a commencement address at Liberty University.

It looks to me like something is going on behind the scenes. It's no secret that the religious right doesn't yet have a good candidate for the 2008 presidential election. It is also no secret that Gingrich would like to be president. Most political pundits think he fully intends to run but is waiting until later this year to formally enter the race.

Was the Dobson interview and Falwell invitation a coordinated attempt to anoint Newt Gingrich as "their" guy in 2008? It sure looks that way. Knowing that the affair would come out eventually, Gingrich wanted to admit it now, on his own terms. Dobson provided the forum for him to do it.

If this is what is happening, I'm very disappointed in Dobson and Falwell. They should know better. In 1998 we were told, in regard to Clinton, that "character counts" and he should be removed from office. I agreed then and still do. But if character is so important, we can't excuse it when "our" guy is the one with skeletons in the closet.

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