Here’s the problem with yet another men-behaving-badly story that came out Thursday, the one in which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne Gingrich, told ABC and the Washington Post that he asked her for permission to have an affair, or as she put it, an “open marriage.” When she refused, he divorced her and hasn’t spoken to her since. And this was after he asked his first wife for a divorce when she was suffering from uterine cancer, in order to marry his second wife. Gingrich said at last night’s debate that the “open marriage” story is false, but given his history of affairs and divorces, Marianne Gingrich’s allegations strike me as credible. Who knows what the truth really is between two people, but if I had to pick, I’d believe Marianne Gingrich’s version over Newt’s version. Her allegations fits with the track record he’s got: you just never know what’s going to come out of his mouth—including asking for an “open marriage.”
Anyway, here’s the problem: most voters don’t think divorce is a deal-breaker when it comes to voting for a candidate. We all know people whose lives have fallen apart and whose marriages have collapsed, for any number of understandable reasons. And frankly, most of us really don’t care about candidates’ personal lives or dating habits. But what voters do object to in an elected official is an attitude of “the rules don’t apply to me.” That’s why we don’t like politicians who don’t pay their taxes, or who hire illegal workers, or who use official funds for personal expenses. It explains the lingering resentment many people had for late Sen. Ted Kennedy after Chappaquidick, for example. And while many misbehaving politicians eventually get caught and punished for their deeds, it’s that arrogance that started it all that gets people so mad.
This also explains why so many people are uncomfortable with the latest revelations about Newt Gingrich’s past. Clearly he doesn’t think the rules apply to him at all. Being a rule-breaker may be a good thing—in terms of innovative solutions, policy proposals, and even campaign decisions that defy conventional wisdom—and Gingrich is certainly that way. But when it comes to questions of character and integrity and doing the right thing, the rules are there for a reason. Too many people in Washington these days put themselves ahead of all else. The number of times Gingrich uses the word “I” is remarkable, and there’s a reason he’s constantly comparing himself to great figures in history. He’s got a grandiosity, an arrogance about him, that is striking. His ego is huge.
If it’s true, there’s a sentence in the Post story that says volumes: “He said the problem with me was I wanted him all to myself,” Marianne Gingrich said. “I said, ‘That’s what marriage is.’” On so many levels, Newt Gingrich doesn’t think the rules apply to him. He’s big, too important, too historic a figure in his own mind, to live by the rules the rest of us do. In that sense, Newt Gingrich will never be one of us.
By: Mary Kate Cary, U. S. News and World Report, January 20, 2012
Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 1999 asked his second wife for an “open marriage” or a divorce at the same time he was giving speeches around the country on family and religious values, his former wife, Marianne, told The Washington Post on Thursday.
Marianne Gingrich said she first heard from the former speaker about the divorce request as she was waiting in the home of her mother on May 11, 1999, her mother’s 84th birthday. Over the phone, as she was having dinner with her mother, Newt Gingrich said, “I want a divorce.”
Shocked, Marianne Gingrich replied: “Is there anybody else?” she recalled. “He was quiet. Within two seconds, when he didn’t immediately answer, I knew.”
The next day, Newt Gingrich gave a speech titled “The Demise of American Culture” to the Republican Women Leaders Forum in Erie, Pa., extolling the virtues of the founding fathers and criticizing liberal politicians for supporting tax increases, saying they hurt families and children.
“When a liberal talks about values, will he or she actually like us to teach American history?” Newt Gingrich told the women’s group. “Will they actually like young people to learn that George Washington was an ethical man? A man of standards, a man who earned the right to be father of this country?”
Appearing at a campaign event in South Carolina on Thursday, the former speaker called the interview by his ex-wife “tawdry and inappropriate,” and refused to answer any questions about it.
“I’m not going to say anything about Marianne,” he said, as his third wife Callista stood a few paces behind him.
Marianne Gingrich said she was speaking out for the first time this year because she wanted her story told from her point of view, rather than be depicted as the victim or suffer a whisper campaign by supporters of Newt Gingrich’s presidential bid.
“How could he ask me for a divorce on Monday and within 48 hours give a speech on family values and talk about how people treat people?” she said.
Asked about the timing of the revelations, she said she had had so many requests for interviews that “it was unavoidable.” She said that during a campaign season, “I knew I wouldn’t get through this year without” doing the interview.
The Gingrich campaign spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
In the four weeks after that 1999 phone call, Marianne and Newt Gingrich saw a counselor. During that time, he seemed to vacillate about what he wanted to do. Marianne Gingrich had learned the name of his then-paramour, Callista — now his wife — though Newt Gingrich never talked about her by name.
Newt Gingrich asked Marianne for an “open marriage” so that he could continue to see whoever he wanted. Marianne Gingrich, who had attended services in a Baptist church with Newt Gingrich, refused.
She said she decided to go public when she heard someone make derogatory comments about her on a radio program.
“Truthfully, my whole purpose was to get out there about who I was, so Newt couldn’t create me as an evil, awful person, which was starting to happen,” she said.
She talked on video for two hours to ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross, an edited version of which will be broadcast on Thursday night’s “Nightline,” and a transcript of which was released today. She laughed when told that some were reporting that she had a “bombshell,” and emphasized that many of her views of Newt Gingrich and his political positions are positive.
In anticipation of the interview, Newt Gingrich told NBC’s “Today” show that his divorce was a private matter. He said his daughters from his first marriage had written a letter to ABC News asking the network to spike the broadcast.
“Intruding into family things that are more than a decade old is simply wrong,” he told NBC.
Newt Gingrich has said that he has asked God for forgiveness, but Marianne Gingrich said he has not spoken to her since the divorce.
By: James V. Grimaldi, The Washington Post, January 19, 2012: Contributions by Nia-Malika Henderson and Alice Crites
GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich (oh how I love typing that!) is fighting hard to negate much of the baggage that will bedevil him over the coming year. Like the story of how he accosted his first wife with divorce matters while she was recovering from surgery at a hospital.
To try and rewrite that bit of his sordid history, Newt enlisted his daughter Jackie, who was 13 at the time of the incident, and apparently claims no talk of divorce occurred at that hospital visit.
For years, I have thought about trying to correct the untrue accounts of this hospital visit. After all, I was at the hospital with them, and saw and heard what happened. But I have always hesitated, as it was a private family matter and my mother is a very private person.
So what did she see and hear at that hospital visit?
[H]ere’s what happened:My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested.
Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother.
She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor.
The tumor was benign.
As with many divorces, it was hard and painful for all involved, but life continued.
Notice anything missing? Yeah, pretty much everything that happened at that visit. And there’s a reason she might want to skip any details. They were as nasty as advertised. Here’s her mother recounting the (then-unchallenged) event to a reporter for the Washington Post, Jan. 3, 1985 (ellipses are in the original article):
“He can say that we had been talking about [divorce] for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise,” says Jackie Gingrich, in a telephone interview from Carrollton. “He’s a great wordsmith . . . He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery . . . To say I gave up a lot for the marriage is the understatement of the year.”
Yup. The reality is a lot harsher than the new sanitized version Newt and his daughter are peddling. A Newsweek reporter actually challenged Gingrich on this:
When the subject came up in my conversation with Gingrich, he urged me to read Jackie’s column. I told him that I had, and suggested that the actual story of that day, as recalled in contemporaneous accounts, was more complicated. Jackie, a cancer survivor, was in the hospital for the removal of a tumor, which proved benign. According to the Gingriches’ pastor at the time, the Rev. Brantley Harwell, Gingrich brought his daughters to visit their mother, and while he was there, he began discussing particulars of the proposed divorce settlement—“division of property, alimony, that kind of thing,” Harwell would recall. (Harwell, who recounted his version of events in 1995, died this summer.) A bitter argument ensued, which Jackie later discussed with her pastor and others.
So how does Newt square away his new claim that the hospital story is a big lie, with the fact that it wasn’t?
“I haven’t disputed that there was an angry discussion,” Gingrich says now. “We got into an argument. Now, how many people do you know going through a divorce end up occasionally getting into arguments? That then got spun into its worst possible interpretation.”
Well, so much for claiming that story was a lie.
By: Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, Daily Kos, December 12,2011
Pat Robertson has made some pretty crazy remarks. Remember the “hit” he wanted us to take out on Hugo Chavez?! Yes, the self-proclaimed leader of the moral majority, former presidential candidate, and television talk host on the 700 Club. But Robertson is also a pastor, a man who claims to believe that the Bible is the word of God. So imagine my and so many others’ surprise when he spoke of divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s because they’re pretty much dead anyway?! (Remember “’til death do us part?” It certainly gives a new slant to that notion.)
Now of course I’m paraphrasing. And you might find this odd coming from me, a liberal, progressive, Democrat; but I’m as angry at the message as I am the messenger.
Robertson is a leader in the conservative Christian circles. These are the same people that fight for the definition of marriage to only be between a man and a woman; certainly not a man and a man or a woman and a woman. Why? Because marriage is holy, ordained by God. It’s one of the first things God does in book of Genesis.
I am angry at this remark Mr. Robertson made, although not surprised, because it shows the true hypocrisy of not only these leaders, but of so many Christians who use the Bible only when it suits them. Remember what Gandhi said about not being able to find Christ among them?
I have been married for 15 years. Happily? Yes, for the most part. I did take the vows when I married to love and honor in sickness and in health, for better or worse, ’til death do us part. And I meant it when I took those vows.
If we simply divorce, or do away with a “problem,” as a person with Alzheimer’s may often be perceived, then what’s next? Divorce when someone is burned in a fire? Partially dismembered in an auto accident? Loses a breast (or two) to breast cancer? When a man can no longer maintain an erection? How about when one’s beauty fades? Oh right, they already do that. (At least in Los Angeles where I live.)
The point is, Alzheimer’s is an illness; it’s one of those “sicknesses” the Bible and those vows refer to. And, it is certainly one of the worst times for a spouse, for a family.
Marriage is not a walk in the park. But if you’re going to fight to defend it, define it, and protect it based on the Bible, at least read the Bible Mr. Robertson and see what God says about the very institution He designed.
Maybe if more of us took those vows more seriously, we wouldn’t have a divorce rate that hovers above 50 percent in America today.
Shame on Mr. Robertson for twisting the “word of God” as he calls the Bible, when he chooses. I believe it’s men like Robertson who keep many of us more than an arm’s length from our creator.
By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, September 21, 2011
So in the wake of the “Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge” signed by seven Republican presidential candidates, and the “Pro-Life Presidential Pledge” signed by five, along comes Iowa social conservative kingpin Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader organization with a new pledge–actually an oath–it calls “The Marriage Vow.”
You have to read this document to believe it. Styled as a “pro-family” platform, the pledge goes far beyond the usual condemnations of same-sex marriage and abortion and requires support for restrictions on divorce (hardly a federal matter), the firing of military officers who place women in forward combat roles, and “recognition of the overwhelming statistical evidence that married people enjoy better health, better sex, longer lives, [and] greater financial stability.” If that’s not enough, it also enjoins “recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security.” This, in case you are wondering, is a nod to the “Full Quiver (or Quiverfull) Movement” that encourages large families in a patriarchal structure as a religious obligation, not to mention to those anti-choicers who want to ban some of the most popular forms of contraception.
The preamble to the “Marriage Vow” is even weirder, asserting among other things that “faithful monogomy” was a central preoccupation of the Founding Fathers; that slaves benefitted from stronger families than African-Americans have today; and that any claims there is a genetic basis for homosexuality are “anti-scientific.”
The “Marriage Vow” seems tailor-made to feed the backlash against ever-proliferating “pledges” imposed on Republican presidential candidates by the Right. But Vander Plaats and his group cannot be dissed without risk by anyone wanting to win the Iowa Caucuses. A perennial statewide candidate (his 2010 primary challenge to now-Gov. Terry Branstad won a surprising 41% of the vote), Vander Plaats was co-chair of Mike Huckabee’s victorious 2008 Iowa Caucus campaign, and also spearheaded the successful 2010 effort to recall state Supreme Court judges who supported the 2009 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Kevin Hall of The Iowa Republican suggests that the “Vow” is a power-play by VanderPlaats to influence the outcome of the August 13 Iowa State GOP straw poll, in which The Family Leader has pledged neutrality, by separating candidates deemed acceptable from those who won’t sign the oath. And indeed, Michele Bachmann, rumored to be Vander Plaats’ current favorite, signed it virtually before the ink dried. What will really be interesting is whether Tim Pawlenty, who has been eagerly accepting every ideological demand made of him by the Right, signs this document. It is certainly designed to freak out the more secular-minded Establishment Republicans he will eventually need if he is to put together a winning coalition of everyone in the party who doesn’t like Mitt Romney. But he has to do well in Iowa for that to matter, so my guess is that he will follow Bachmann in kissing Vander Plaats’ ring and associating himself with a fresh batch of extremism.
By: Ed Kilgore, The Democratic Strategist, July 8, 2011