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Does It Matter Newt Cheated?

Newt Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, told ABC News he’s morally unfit to be president because he cut out on her with Callista and then asked her to go along with the arrangement. She’s attacking the candidate who shut down the entire U.S. government because it was spending too much money on poor people; who thinks that “African-American” is just a synonym for food stamp recipient; and who wants to conscript impoverished children into janitorial jobs to teach them promptness. And we’re worrying about what he did with his dick? Watch out: When all morality collapses into sexual morality, the voters will become so fixated on whom the candidates are screwing they don’t notice …  it’s them.

Most of the fault for this misallocation of our moral indignation lies, of course, in the unruly sexuality of fourth-century Christian theologian Augustine of Hippo. Like Newt Gingrich, Augustine’s sexual desires stood in the way of his ambition — in his case, for a career in the church. Although, like Gingrich, Augustine finally suppressed sufficiently to embrace the requisite behavior, in his struggles he left behind the wicked legacy that conflates sexual desire with moral failure. As time went by, the church agreed that sex was OK as long as you confined it to one lifelong heterosexual reproductive marriage. The monogamous marriage really took off as a moral model when Martin Luther founded the Protestant wing that Gingrich the Catholic now eschews. Like Gingrich, Martin Luther had his eye on a nun long before he nailed the theses.

And so when Gingrich decided to get married in 1962 and again in 1981 and once more in 2000, Speaker Gingrich had to commit himself to be faithful to Wife 1, Wife 2 and, now, Callista. And then he breached his contract. Again and again. Unless you live in fourth-century Italy, that’s what infidelity is. Not the sum and substance of all that’s wrong in the world. Not the only thing a Republican can do that is legitimate to criticize (enjoying all those Cayman millions, Mitt?). Not the definition of immorality. But definitely a breach of contract. It’s like walking away from your mortgage when your house is underwater or wearing a dress to the party and then taking it back to the store.

Breach of contract, like lying, is not nothing. When people try to get out from under the Catholic/Protestant order of sexual morality, they try to say Gingriching around is nothing, as long as you don’t do it in the streets and scare the horses: the right to privacy and all that. That is as foolish as saying infidelity is everything. All you have to do is look at the video of the usually unflappable Hillary Clinton walking to the helicopter to Camp David that awful day in 1997 to know that breaching the fidelity contract is not nothing.

The problem is, what with no-fault divorce, our society provides no damages for breach of sexual contract other than a suicidal divorce. In most divorces, the breacher pays about the same price as he would for forgetting to return his Netflix. Especially if he’s a big, powerful man like Newt Gingrich and the wife was foolish enough to bet all her hopes for her future on his stellar course. Or Bill Clinton. Or France’s contribution to the news category, feel-like-you-need-a-shower-after-hearing-it, Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Their wives were smart enough not to try to enforce their contract of marital fidelity through the suicidal medium of divorce. Hillary Clinton gagged it down and she almost made it to the White House. Anne Sinclair got chosen the most admired woman in France. Don’t blame them for choosing unconditional surrender. Under the current divorce laws and social norms, those alpha males are the U.S.Army and the wives are Grenada. Why does the society treat the women who invest early in high-flying careers so much worse than the early investors in, say, Facebook? A better system would treat a Marianne Gingrich at least as well as the courts treated the Winklevoss twins.

Which is why I’m actually rooting for Marianne. When she refused to take Newt’s offer and stay on the gravy train, he tried to stick her with two grand a month they had agreed to after an earlier squabble. His earlier attempts to avoid supporting his first wife and their daughters were also legendary. Now he’s a Tiffany-patronizing, speech-making money machine, a gold mine. And as usual the ex-wife got the shaft. It’s not the definition of immorality, but her going public right before the South Carolina primary has all the appeal of asymmetrical warfare. Just as Newt was cruising down the road to victory in South Carolina his jeep hit an IED. He’ll probably be fine. But it’s so gratifying at least to see him bleed a little.

 

By: Linda Hirshman, Salon, January 20, 2012

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Family Values | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

“Total Self-Absorption”: Newt’s Toxic Narcissism

Before he dumped Marianne for Callista, Newt Gingrich approached his second wife of 18 years with the possibility of an open marriage.

I ask you: how awesome is that?

In an interview airing tonight on Nightline, Marianne recalls Newt complaining to her. “You want me all to yourself. Callista doesn’t care what I do.”

Assuming Marianne can more or less be believed, let’s update what we now know of the former speaker’s personal history:

1.  Gingrich dumped his first wife, Jackie, while she was being treated for cancer.

2.  Some 12 years into his second marriage, he started sleeping with a much younger Hill staffer.

3.  Six years into the affair, he asked wife No. 2 for an open marriage.

4.  When she declined, Newt pressed ahead with a divorce—shortly after Marianne was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

5.  The dissolution of Newt and Marianne’s union occurred as the then-speaker was galumphing around the country loudly proclaiming President Clinton to be morally unfit for office.

My God, it’s like a bad telenovela—only starring homely people.

I have to admit, while the tales of Gingrich’s mistreatment of the women in his life are, of course, appalling, I also find them utterly irresistible—and more than a little satisfying. Not because I care about Gingrich’s rank hypocrisy. Unlike many journalists, hypocrisy isn’t what gets my blood boiling. All politicians are hypocrites to one degree or another. They have to be.

No. What entrances me about these Newtonian love stories are how perfectly they jibe with the former speaker’s broader character portrait: namely, that of a pure, unadulterated narcissist, a man whose sense of himself as a world historic figure leads him to believe that whatever is good for him must be what is good. Period. In Gingrich’s worldview, the end justifies the means—and the end is invariably the advancement of Newt Gingrich’s personal aims.

The entire sweep of Newt’s personal life brings to mind a line from Whit Stillman’s 1990 film, Metropolitan, in which one of the cast of young, rich Manhattanites scolds another, “When you’re an egoist, none of the harm you do is intentional.”

I’d say that this line could apply to all aspects of Newt’s life except that, in many of his political dealings, Newt absolutely intends to cause harm. Demonizing the opposition is frequently his aim, and his aim in that department tends to be quite good.

But with his wives, one gets the sense that Gingrich never set out to hurt anyone. He simply didn’t give a damn—or at least enough of a damn to make an effort to minimize damage to the other person on his way out the door.

Lots of people cheat on their spouses. Lots of people leave their spouses. It takes a special kind of ego to carry on a lengthy affair with another woman, then grandiosely suggest to your wife: so howzabout you content yourself with just a slice of Newt pie and agree to share the rest?

Hypocrisy, infidelity, dishonesty, immorality—none of those interest me here. When it comes to Newt, the ultimate driver—and the biggest danger—has always been the man’s total self-absorption and near-messianic self-regard.

That ought to make even the most devout Newt fan a little nervous.

 

By: Michelle Cottle, The Daily Beast, January 19, 2012

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Newt’s Family Values: A Chicken In Every Pot, An “Open Marriage” In Every Household

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

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Family Values | , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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