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“As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with the Washington Post, and this story has now gone viral on the Internet,” said CNN moderator John King to presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

And King went on, at the South Carolina GOP presidential debate, to note:

“She says that you came to her in 1999 at a time when you were having an affair. She says you asked her, Sir, to enter into an open marriage. Would you like to take some time to respond to that?”

That was an undeniably legitimate question – about a presidential campaign issue all over the news.

But how legitimate was the response of this former House speaker, who yearns to become an immensely powerful leader of our nation?

Would he like to respond?

“No, but I will,” he snapped and became visibly angry at the question.

“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate with a topic like that.”

But much of the nation – especially those many in South Carolina who are devoutly religious – were also appalled at Newt when they learned that his wife No. 2 (of three) told the Washington Post:

“The day after he told me about his affair with Callista Visek (the present Mrs. Gingrich) in May 1999, he delivered a speech on ‘the demise of American culture’ to a group of Republican women in Pennsylvania. 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? … He conducted an affair with her in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington. … He always called me at night and always ended with ‘I love you.’ Well, she (Callista) was listening. He was asking to have an open marriage, and I refused. That is not a marriage. He moved to divorce me just months after I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was also advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress. He knew.”

Instead of answering those absolutely devastatingly questions from the second of his three wives, candidate Gingrich tried dismissing them all as falsehoods. And he unleashed a meretricious verbal assault on CNN’s John King for asking a question about what has understandably been all over the news.

Gingrich’s King-bashing also included the following:

“Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through personal things. 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,” he said.

The audience roared.

Did that roaring audience mean that most of – or even a small percentage of them – were Newt Gingrich’s fellow multiple adulterers?

I think not.

And I also believe it was most unfortunate that Mitt Romney, on this issue, said, “John, let’s get on to the real issues is all I got to say” (although Romney did point out that he and his wife, Ann, have been married for 42 years).

What is more real than this nation’s deep yearning for a president who will tell the truth and keep his vows?

While the multiple breakings of an oath of marriage is not prosecutable, or punished by imprisonment, why should the voters of the United States not be concerned by a presidential candidate who is a repeated violator of vows “to remain faithful unto each other as long as ye both shall live”?

Will this nation’s Jewish community – as well as the many millions of evangelical Christians – vote into our nation’s highest office a man who for so long in his life regularly and deliberately violated the Seventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery”?

Religion columnist Mike McManus noted:

  • “The House voted 395-28 to reprimand Gingrich and ordered him to pay an unprecedented $300,000 penalty, the first time in two centuries that it had disciplined a speaker for ethical wrongdoing. He had violated a tax law and lied to an ethics committee.”
  • “Unfaithfulness in Gingrich’s personal life paved the way for his public infidelity.”
  • “Ironically it is Gingrich moving up in the polls due to a better performance in the debates.”
  • “However, character is more important than debating skills.”

On March 28, 2011, CBS News ran a report of an interview with Gingrich that was on the Internet headlined: “Newt Gingrich: Leading Clinton impeachment wasn’t hypocritical.”

“Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Fox News Sunday yesterday that it wasn’t hypocritical of him to lead impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, even though he was having an extramarital affair at the time, because the impeachment case was ‘not about personal behavior.’

“‘Obviously, it’s complex and, obviously, I wasn’t doing things to be proud of,’ Gingrich said. ‘On the other hand … I understand that in a federal court, in a case in front of a federal judge, to commit a felony, which is what he did, perjury, was a felony. The question I raised was very simple: Should a president of the United States be above the law?’”

And that inevitably raises a similar question:

Should a president of the United States have been a multiple adulterer?

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