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Why Newt Gingrich’s “Open Marriage” Request Matters

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

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , | 1 Comment


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