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Why Newt’s past is relevant…

20 Jan

I wrote yesterday about the GOP rush to defend the pretty much indefensible behavior of Newt Gingrich. The entertainment continues today and shows no signs of becoming less ridiculous.

Sarah Palin, who in Greek myth would be the physical embodiment of ridiculousness, made the claim on Sean Hannity’s radio show that ABC News aired the interview with Gingrich’s second ex-wife Marianne to “derail his campaign.” She then said in the most eloquent manner possible that these efforts would backfire.

PALIN: I call them dumbarses. They, thinking that by trotting out this old Gingrich divorce interview that’s old news — and it does feature a disgruntled ex, claiming that it would destroy his campaign — all it does, Sean, is incentive conservatives and independents who are so sick of the politics of personal destruction, because it’s played so selectively by media, that their target, in this case Newt, he’s now going to soar even more. Because we know the game now, and we just won’t put up with it.

Dumbarses? Palin is a grandmother but isn’t she a little young to be the “kooky grandmother” who says whatever pops into her head during Thanksgiving dinner? And how long does she plan on referring to the “media” as a separate entity from the media that pays her rent?

It’s not even logical that ABC News would go to the trouble of destroying Gingrich’s campaign when it would depend on the network knowing ahead of time about (former?) frontrunner Romney’s weak debate performances, Gingrich’s resulting surge, and Rick Perry’s exit from the race and endorsement of Newt. Any rational person knows that ABC’s time travel budget has been greatly slashed.

I’m not sure if Palin is aware that the phrase “politics of personal destruction” was first used by Richard Gephardt in a 1998 speech during the Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings. Gingrich was a willing participant in this destruction. He has dismissed the apparent hypocrisy on what amounts to semantics, but it seems sufficient to appease most of his supporters.

When asked about his ex-wife’s allegations during Thursday’s GOP debate in South Carolina, Gingrich worked some spellbinding political sleight of hand.

“To take an ex-wife and make it, two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine,” Gingrich went on, calling the allegation “false” and provoking a standing ovation from the debate audience.

The Christian Broadcasting Network’s (David) Brody said that Gingrich’s response to the “open marriage” question “took a weakness and turned it into a strength.”

Bill Clinton himself is sufficient evidence that the media does not target candidates selectively. It goes where the stories are, and sex scandals sell. Arguably, an interview with a “disgruntled ex” of Gingrich is just as relevant as an interview with a disgruntled former employee of Mitt Romney. Gingrich’s Super PAC released the video “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” about his time with Bain Capital (again, really, “Bain” is the name you choose for your company). He later asked for it to be re-edited or removed from the Internet entirely due to inaccuracies. This is the “Eat Your Cake and Have It Too” approach to politics that Stephen Colbert is effectively skewering with his own Super PAC.

Romney is campaigning as a successful businessman who can turn around the economy. Gingrich seeks to puncture that image by illustrating the actual results of Romney’s form of “vulture capitalism.” However, Gingrich is campaigning as a “Reagan Conservative.” He still talks about “traditional values” and supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

I realize the president is not the Pope because a woman could actually hold the former office. I don’t care if you have more ex-wives than Michael Mancini from Melrose Place and choose to run for president. I do care if you support Proposition 8 under the pretense of “protecting marriage” while perhaps legally qualifying as the worst husband since King Henry.

Gingrich supports Prop 8 on apparent belief that the majority can remove rights from the minority. What these “appointed lawyers” understand is that their job is to enforce the Constitution. Alabama can’t suddenly vote to stimulate the economy by reviving slavery. It would certainly be unfortunate for Gingrich if the nation had voted to “protect marriage” by banning divorce. He’d still be with his second wife… or even his first.

This is why I don’t buy the “I’ve made mistakes in my past, which I regret” line that Gingrich feeds his supporters. Marianne Gingrich is still alive. He could have ended his affair with Callista and returned to his wife. He instead not only divorced her but married his mistress. Everything came out Ethel Merman for him.

Rick Perry had no trouble telling a 14-year-old bisexual girl that homosexuality is a sin and that gays serving openly in the military is not “good public policy.” Yet, he takes a “no one’s perfect” attitude toward a man breaking the seventh commandment and then marrying his partner in crime. Callista Gingrich is not a “mistake” from the past or “old news.” She’s very much a part of the present.

This is the man that evangelicals would prefer to Barack Obama, who to my knowledge has had only one wife. Michelle Obama also has no history of “husband napping.”

“To a degree, [Gingrich’s past] will give [evangelical voters] pause, but there’s a much more insatiable appetite to defeat President Obama,” said Brody… “Gingrich has never claimed to be a patron saint.. People have known for years about Gingrich’s marriage issues. In a way, his well-known history of troubled marriage works for him here.”

No, discussing Gingrich’s past is not “despicable” or the “politics of personal destruction.” Gingrich chose to make the personal political, and while that is despicable, it is appropriate to draw back the curtain on his own corruption.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Political Theatre, Pop Life

 

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