Like any southern gentleman, when Newt Gingrich's honor is questioned he stands up to defend it. Maybe there was no slap across the face with a glove, or challenge to a duel at last night's debate, but how could he sit back in the face of charges of marital infidelity?
Let's take a step back and examine the charges.
Here's the question from last night's debate, based on ABC's reporting:
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. In it, 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?
Gingrich's response in its entirety:
I think -- 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 on a topic like that. (Cheers, applause.)
. . .
MR. GINGRICH: Every person in here knows personal pain.
Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful 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. (Cheers, applause.)
My -- my two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC, and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it. And I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. KING: As you noted, Mr. Speaker, this story did not come from our network. As you also know, it is a subject of conversation on the campaign. I'm not -- I get your point; I take get your --
MR. GINGRICH: John, John, it was repeated by your network. (Boos.) You chose to start the debate with it. Don't try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with that. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. KING: Now, OK --
MR. GINGRICH: Now, let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false. Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period says the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren't interested, because they would like to attack any Republican. They're attacking the governor, they're attacking me. I'm sure they'll probably get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul. I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.
The typography is important here. In all that blathering, the only thing Gingrich says that actually responds to the charge is what's in bold there. "The story is false. Blah blah blah." The rest of his answer is to attack the media, which is always popular among Republicans, and to attack the questioner.
But when he says the story is false, what is he actually talking about?
The only real question was whether he asked his then-wife if he could have an affair with Callista while remaining married to his wife. After the fact.
There's no question about the fact that he was having an affair. We know that he had already been having an affair for six years before the divorce.
The facts are clear. Gingrich met his second wife in 1980 and married her in 1981. (Yes, okay, it is true that he started carrying on with Wife # 2 while married to Wife #1, if you want to be a stickler about it.) He filed for divorce in 1999. By that time he had already been having an affair with Callista for years, and when his divorce was final in 2000 he married her.
Oh yes, and during part of the time he was carrying on with Callista, 23 years his junior, he was trying to hound Bill Clinton out of office for carrying on with a much younger woman.
So to understand Gingrich's "The story is false," in the context of the known facts, we have to conclude that the only factual point that he could be disputing is whether he went to his wife and asked her if it was okay to keep on having affairs while staying married to her.
Not whether he was having affairs with women much younger than his wives during his marriages to them. Not whether he left two wives to marry his much younger paramours. No. Whether he tried to convince his wife that he should be allowed to have affairs.
What's false about the story if you believe every word he says, is that his ex-wife claims that he asked her for permission and he says he never asked for permission, he just carried on his affairs without any regard for what his wife wanted.
Oh yes, and when Gingrich talks about having "someone close to them go through painful things", what he's talking about is all the years he was married to one woman while having an affair with a different woman.
And this is why he feels he must defend his honor?
I'm waiting for the duel.
Labels: Callista, Gingrich, Republican debate, republican hypocrisy