The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Forget to be, or not to be, the question is whether ‘tis nobler in the mind – excluding what passes for minds in South Carolina – to question the character of a slimy, arrogant, philandering con artist, or to limit the questions to those of a less personal nature.
I quite agree John King made a tactical error leading-off the Republican debate with a question about the non-news that Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife Marianne confirmed he is a liar and a whore. But whatever one thinks of the timing, it was appropriate to question Newt’s character, particularly since he’s made a career out of calling other people’s character into question.
Newt's faux outrage at having his character questioned ought to have produced guffaws from the audience, rather than a standing ovation. More on that in a moment.
• • •
Newt failed to answer King's inartful question truthfully, and instead attacked the “liberal media”. That, too, speaks to his character; it confirms he is a liar, a man who will say or do anything to avoid dealing with the truth. He's the proverbial child who refuses to admit his crime even when caught with his hand in the cookie jar – or in this case his appendage in a cookie.
The chutzpah of the man is truly beyond belief – he says the liberal media's personal attacks keep decent people from seeking public office. Well, leaving aside whether Gingrich has a clue about decency, surely he indicts himself with that charge. After all, he stooped to calling Obama "the most dangerous President of our lifetime" and "the food-stamp President".
That latter spurious charge was one of many bones Newt has thrown the Republican base. A man who repeatedly toots a dog-whistle and grovels before a racist mob surely deserves to have his character questioned.
As does a man, a putative "family values" candidate, who despicably drags his daughters into his defense. Hasn’t he caused his family enough grief?
• • •
I have little sympathy for Newt’s second wife Marianne; payback is hell. She can’t even plead ignorance, since it was common knowledge among his staff that he was a sex addict.
Still, she didn’t deserve to be slammed again by Newt, who stated flatly that her charge he asked for an open marriage was false. Since he has repeatedly acknowledged he carried on an affair with future wife number three (and likely fooled around with other staffers) while married to wife number two, what part of her charge is false? Or did he mean to deceive by denying he made the specific request and used the words “open marriage”?
If so, that’s on a par with his nemesis Bill Clinton quibbling about the definition of sex, a definition that renders both men semantic tap-dancers and moral lightweights.
That's certainly the conclusion to be drawn from the admission of Anne Manning, another former staffer, who stated that at Newt's request, she “serviced” him orally rather than through intercourse, so that he could maintain the deception he didn't have sex with her. How about it, ladies – do you buy that dodge on either end of the stick, so to speak?
• • •
Bill and Newt will be forever tied together, if for no other reason than that they share an addiction to power, food and sex. But Clinton is loved by millions and respected even by some of his enemies, while Newt is loved by no one and disrespected even by his friends. Oh, and I hate (not really) to rub it in “family values” folks, but Bill is still married to his first wife.
That brings me back to Newt’s first wife, Jackie. She was his former high school geometry teacher, and he married her when he was 19 and she was 26. Some find that another sign Newt has some sort of deep-seated psychological problem with women.
Or maybe Newt’s just what he appears to be – a sociopath and a user, a liar and a loser.
• • •
There is a much larger issue here than Newt’s character, and that is the character of the Republican base. The standing ovation he received for his vicious and duplicitous attack on the media is stark testimony to the hypocritical nature of the aptly named base. After all, these are the people for whom “family values” supposedly trumps all else.
The failure of the other candidates to bring up the character issue is stark testimony to their hypocrisy and cowardice as well. Hypocrisy in politics is hardly news, but the level to which these and other “family values” politicians have sunk boggles the mind. Mark Foley, John Ensign, Larry Craig, David Vitter and Mark Sanford come immediately to mind, but they are many more.
According to a study cited here, "Republicans were involved in 61% of sex scandals in the past 10 years, whereas Democrats were involved in just 39%. Moreover, 34% of the total number of scandals were gay scandals (i.e, involving an ostensibly straight politician and a same-sex partner), with Republicans accounting for 78.5% of all gay scandals. Republicans were also involved in 66% of the underage scandals."
• • •
Supporters of these wayward politicians claim to practice “forgiveness”, and at first blush that would seem to be true, since they return so many of their miscreants to office. But they have no forgiveness for sinners on the other side of the political divide. And Lord knows, there are plenty of Democrats who need forgiving, too.
The fact there are sinners on both sides provides no refuge for the "family values" crowd. Those who tout themselves bastions of virtue are rightly held to a higher standard than the rest of us. But it's all too apparent the Republican base has lowered its standards.
They've embraced characters like Trump, Cain and Gingrich, who have no character and no apparent family values. Many of them were willing to settle for dullards like Bachmann and Perry or loonies like Santorum and Paul. And when it's all said and done, despite their supposed high principles, they will vote for Romney, a man many of them deem a spineless, unprincipled waffler and a member of a heretical cult.
I'd add that he is also arrogant, condescending and oblivious to the needs of others. But none of that will matter to the Republican base come November.
But maybe it isn't an abundance of hypocrisy and a lack of perspicacity that is the problem with these people; the problem may be that they just don't have any standards. After all, they voted twice for He Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken, the worst President in U.S. history.
©2012 Tom Cordle