Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Newt Gingrich and the sanctity of marriage.

You may recall that Newt Gingrich converted to Roman Catholicism last year. The same Newt Gingrich who attacked Bill Clinton for unseemly affairs is now an advocate for family values and the sanctity of marriage, and setting himself up for a run at the White House in 2012. What's the problem? Well, ol' Newt is on Marriage # 3.

The Daily Beast:
Mr. Gingrich’s marital history is a matter of public record, and it is not tidy. He first married at age 19, to his 26-year-old former high-school geometry teacher and then, so the story goes, presented her with divorce terms after she was wheeled out of cancer surgery.

Mrs. Gingrich #2 was dumped after her husband had carried on an extramarital affair with a fetching, blond congressional staffer named Callista Bisek, who went on to become the present Mrs. Gingrich #3. This Family Values paradigm was complicated by the fact that whilst Mr. Gingrich was filibustering Ms. Bisek over the Speaker’s desk, he was simultaneously leading the impeachment charge against a naughty president of
the United States.

To be sure, Mr. Gingrich has since been at pains to emphasize that it was not Mr. Clinton’s naughtiness that he minded, but his perjury. Well, OK, but really, sir. As the noble Rochefoucauld taught us, “Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.”
This marital history was a bit problematic because Mrs Gingrich #3 is a Roman Catholic and wanted a blessing on her marriage. What to do, what to do? Ah..... annulment.
Mother Church can be rigid, but at times—bless her—she can think like a $700-an-hour K Street lawyer. ...

As the Rev. John Catoir, a doctor of canon law, points out, “Forty years ago, people were told ‘You made your bed, now sleep in it.’” Thank God this is no longer the Church’s guiding philosophy. If the church had been this progressive in the matter of annulments back in the 1530s in merry olde England, the Archbishop of Canterbury would today be a Roman cardinal.
Really? Well, yes, apparently so. As Mrs Gingrich # 2 explained to Esquire, Newt invited his mistress (the future #3) to live with him while still married to #2. He asked #2 to ignore the affair and let him continue it. She refused, and they divorced. And then, the ever considerate Roman Catholic church annulled the marriage, without any input from her.
It's hysterical. I got a notice that they wanted to nullify my marriage. They're making jokes about it on local radio. The minute he got married, divorced, married, divorced — what does the Catholic Church say about this?
Apparently, not much. Newt's previous marriages--both of them--hey presto! vanished, and he and #3 can be blessed in church. I'm all in favor of absolution, but pretending something never happened?

Even hard-right Republican Sen Tom Coburn has a bit of an issue with this.
Coburn made it clear that he won't be on Newt Gingrich's 2012 presidential bandwagon. Gingrich "is a super-smart man, but he doesn't know anything about commitment to marriage," he said of the thrice-married former House speaker. "He's the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president."

It should be entertaining to see how Newt Gingrich spins his marriages. The portrait of him that comes from the Esquire story is of a cynical, calculating, egotist in the "do as I say, not as I do" mold. The right wing is good at spinning but this one is going to cause whiplash.


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