Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich refused to sign Iowa social conservative Bob Vander Plaats’s anti-gay-marriage pledge, saying through a spokesman that it had a long list of problems.
Mr. Vander Plaats already made one change, removing a sentence that suggested African American children fared better under slavery.
“We told him that we couldn’t sign it in its current form,” said Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman, R.C. Hammond. “We’re happy to work with him to get some more precise language.”
This? From America’s patriotic philanderer?
In a wide-ranging C-SPAN interview in September 2010, Newt Gingrich reflected on the crazy nature of running for president. Small moments or candid photographs can upend a campaign, he noted, mentioning Jimmy Carter’s bout with a “killer rabbit,” which came to symbolize his floundering re-election efforts. As a candidate, you cannot “control all of the events” of your campaign, he said. “Sooner or later” you will “get into some kind of roller coaster and you just have to figure out if you can survive.”
Gingrich has opted to get into his roller coaster immediately. He announced he might be running for office less than a week ago, and already he’s zooming down the tracks, cheeks flapping in the breeze. In an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, he suggested that his love of country contributed to his marital infidelity.
“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,” said Gingrich. “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.”
Let me guess what language Gingrich had in mind.
Therefore, in any elected or appointed capacity by which I may have the honor of serving our fellow citizens in these United States, Ithe undersigned do hereby solemnly vow* to honor and to cherish, to defend and to uphold, the Institution of Marriage as only between one man and one woman. I vow* to do so through my:
- Personal fidelity to my spouse.
In 1999, after refusing to take the seat he won in the 1998 elections, Newt Gingrich left his second wife, Marianne, for a much-younger staffer with whom he’d been having an almost-ignored affair. As in his first marriage, he did so shortly after Marianne was diagnosed with a serious illness; as in his first divorce, he fought Marianne tooth and nail over any financial settlement. And then he had the Atlanta archdiocese inform Marianne that their marriage was invalid in the eyes of his fiancée’s faith; 9 years later, he completed his conversion to Catholicism.
Given his popularity among Republicans, one would think there is little left to say about Gingrich’s personal foibles that could hurt his political career. But sandwiched in between snippets from his campaign to return to popularity in yesterday’s Esquire profile are tidbits from the still-supportive Marianne that portray Gingrich in a far-from-pleasant light — and hints that his personal foibles took quite a toll on his political fortunes behind the scenes.
Before marrying Marianne, Gingrich presented his first wife, Jackie Battley, with the terms of their divorce as she lay in a hospital bed recovering from surgery for uterine cancer. Gingrich had pursued Marianne from nearly the moment they met at a January 1980 fundraiser…
Not to mention that annoying “in sickness and in health” business.
After the Republican losses in 1998, then-Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA) pressured Gingrich to resign as Speaker, threatening to run against him if he did not. (Students of political history will recall that, 6 short weeks later, Livingston himself withdrew as speaker and left Congress 6 months after that in the wake of revelations of his own marital infidelities.) Gingrich left Congress in early 1999.
It was then that Marianne went to the doctor and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In early May — just before Mother’s Day — she went to Ohio to visit her mother. She told Esquire that Gingrich didn’t return her calls for two days — which, for a man that usually checked in several times a day, was quite unusual. And when he finally returned her calls, that’s when she knew.
He wanted to talk in person, he said.”I said, ‘No, we need to talk now.’ ”
He went quiet.
“There’s somebody else, isn’t there?”
She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed?
Just saying, is all. And no, draping your genitals in the flag doesn’t excuse you.