Gingrich’s Fourth Wife: America

In a piece written for Fox News on January 20, 2012, Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychologist,opines that Mr. Newt Gingrich might make an excellent President of the United States, not despite his three marriages, but because of them, or rather because of the rare personal qualities that would made the trigamy possible.

Allow me at the outset to state that I do not claim to know the state of Mr. Gingrich’s soul. I presume that his conversion to Roman Catholicism was sincere. Nor do I wish to suggest that a Roman Catholic may, in good conscience, vote for the current occupant of the Oval Office. The rule I follow in these cases is quite straightforward. I may not cooperate in the deliberate destruction of innocent human life. I may not cooperate in the deracination of marriage: its demotion from an elemental society based upon the nature of our embodied beings, to a legal fiction invented by an all-competent state. I may not cooperate in the steady deconstruction of what is human: the move to make a supposedly infinitely malleable human nature subject to the whims of technocrats, globalists, and others whose seething hatred of my faith is all too plain. I may not vote for a Goering, no matter how many Autobahns he builds.

I say I do not know what Gingrich is thinking and feeling now. But I do know he has behaved disgracefully in the past. The old-fashioned word dishonor comes to mind. If a man is caught embezzling money from his company, he may well repent of it, and we should forgive him. But that does not mean that he may then with a clear conscience put himself forward as our treasurer. A sense of honor, or dishonor, would forbid it. A man of new-found honor would be pained to be so elevated, as he would understand better than anyone his unworthiness for the position. Something nigh unto a miracle would have to transpire in the meantime: Saul of Tarsus, blinded on the road to Damascus, healed and converted to Christ and spending years in patient learning and obedience; Augustine, pitched headlong into faith, forswearing his former life, submitting to the instruction of Saint Ambrose, and never forgetting the lessons taught him by a fallen human nature and its vast capacity for self-deceit.

But what Dr. Ablow says is that a man’s honor should have no bearing on his worthiness to be what we used to call the leader of the free world. That is astonishing. No one of any political persuasion in American history, until quite recently, would have proposed such a thing.

Dr. Ablow says that voters “don’t belong in a candidate’s bedroom,” parroting a line from the pelvic Left. Of course, no one is proposing that candidates sleep beneath the eye of hidden cameras. But the expression of our sexual being can never be strictly private. The evidence is all around us, in the form of those two-legged creatures called children. If the marriage of a man and a woman and the begetting of children from their love brings into being the society for whose good governments are in part established, then those dishonorable things that a man does to his wives and his children do concern his neighbors, who must then live in the midst of the chaos and social disintegration. By extension, it involves the people in general. No man is an island.

That is especially true when the problems that beset a people are fundamentally moral, rather than economic or political. And our problems indeed are moral. I am not speaking only of the detritus of the sexual revolution. I know quite well what Dr. Ablow wishes to ignore, that if we walked down the cell block of a prison and asked the men, one by one, to tell us what kinds of homes they grew up in, we would hear tale after tale of fatherlessness, irresponsibility, and chaos. Nor am I speaking of the cultural stupefaction that is the result of a steady stream of nihilism and sleaze. Let us take the housing collapse for an example. What motivated the people who lent so many billions of dollars away without considering the risks? Is it really so absurd to suppose that greed and the old sin of spiritual sluggishness – in this case, not having the energy to resist the crowd and maintain one’s integrity – had something to do with it? And what about the gross overburdening of the states with salaries and pensions of public workers, far more generous than their counterparts in the private sector receive? Does that have nothing, really, to do with a loss of a commitment to do good work and to exact what the work is fairly worth? And is not our willingness to rob our children of a piece with our willingness to slander our forefathers?

The moral character of a leader is not merely something else to consider alongside other qualifications. It is essential. If the pipes in my kitchen are leaking, I call the plumber, and I don’t bother to find out whether he’s a good family man – although if I know of a good family man who is also a good plumber, I’ll call him first. But if all the pipes in my house need replacement, then there is no way I will call upon a man who has dishonored himself; and I don’t care how skilled he is with the blowtorch. I won’t trust him. Somehow, somewhere I figure he’ll cheat me, cutting a corner here, finding an extra expense there. Now a leader occupies a higher plane entirely. I’m not asking him to use manual or mental skills to perform a well-defined job, like fixing a pipe. I’m asking him to lead a nation. He must inspire a disheartened people with courage, return a profligate people to thrift, remind a licentious people of the beauty of marriage, call forth the spiritual energies of a people who fall down before the abject idols of wealth, and slowly reintroduce a cultureless people to the demands and the joys of culture, which are unattainable without the strong bonds of religious faith and a devotion to what is, or ought to be, near and dear. Wise laws may assist him in this enterprise. The repeal of destructive laws will be of help, too. But ultimately the leader is far more than a political technician.

Dr. Ablow writes that we must not “castrate” candidates. I surely agree with that, and would have much to say about feminism, technocracies, and congressional castrati. But he does not see that a man who has fallen into deep dishonor has already castrated himself. Benedict Arnold cannot preach on loyalty. Augustus Caesar knew that if he were to have any success reforming the morals of the senatorial class in Rome, he and his family would have to set an unimpeachable example. Candidate Gingrich denies that he ever proposed an “open marriage” to his second wife, but he certainly did violate his vows to both of his first two wives, and he must know that anyone who may even plausibly be linked to something as venal as that proposal is morally compromised as a leader. How can he gain an audience that would do anything but grin and scoff, were he to try to uphold the holiness of marriage?

The fact is, Dr. Ablow and those secularists who reason in his way do not care overmuch about that open-marriage proposal, whether it was made or not. Alcibiades is just too clever a fellow for us to ignore. So what if he is a double-dealing roué? There’s no connection between whether a man will keep his marriage oath, says the psychologist, and whether he will keep the oath of office. Here I must simply throw my hands up in the air and confess myself beaten. It is beyond satire. It is as if one were to say, “Yes, Mr. Pilate did sentence innocent Jews to death and have their blood mixed with mortar, but that won’t necessarily make him a bad governor of Spain.” Or, “Yes, it is true that Mr. Borgia had his enemies executed by cunning, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep his promises to his flunkies.” What can the doctor possibly mean? A man of integrity stands by his words. You either are that homo integer or you are not. My father was a man of integrity. He sold life insurance, and when the prospective client possessed a policy that was superior to the one he had to offer, he simply told him so. That gained him a reputation for honesty, and a great lot of good will, but he did not cultivate the habit of honesty because it was useful. He cultivated it because it was right. I cannot imagine my father telling even a small lie to gain any advantage. I cannot imagine my father even wanting to associate with a liar.

An oath-breaker is in a sense worse than a liar. The liar deceives me about what happened or what is the case now. But a man who makes a solemn promise binds himself to his words both now and in the future. Only a spiritual being can make a promise: it is the free disposition of one’s freedom. Other people depend upon it. When I made the solemn promise to be true to my wife, she knew that for me a vow is a vow, and that is that. She could depend upon that promise, and act accordingly. She did not need to do what her feminist colleagues in graduate school suggested, that she hope for an intact marriage but always prepare for divorce. The promise set her free. It set me free too – free of the noisy interference of imaginary worlds, free to banish with a snort of contempt all the stupid temptations the world, the flesh, and the devil may present.

Beneath Dr. Ablow’s attempt to sever personal honor from political honesty is the assumption, peddled by many on the sexual left, that people of old fornicated and committed adultery with just the same frequency and dissolution as we do now. But this is demonstrably false. Had it been true, in the days before chemical birth-prevention, the nation would have been overrun with illegitimate children; and yet almost every child in America in 1900 was born within the bonds of wedlock, while almost two-fifths of American children are born out of wedlock now. Well, yes, some may concede; but men who seek power are different from other men. They have to be granted some sexual leeway.

It was astonishing, during the presidency of the Great Buffoon (Bill Clinton), to hear feminists suddenly speaking in those strange tongues. But the history of American presidents suggests exactly the reverse of what they and Dr. Ablow assert. Honor cannot be stowed in a cubbyhole, to be taken out for a part of one’s life and dispensed with for another.

Let us consider the Presidents after the Civil War, for example. Are we seriously to believe that President Grant’s drunkenness and the inhumanity of his cannon-fodder battles had nothing to do with the way he governed, or did not govern, during Reconstruction? Or look at Grover Cleveland. He made a name for himself as Governor of New York, opposed to the corruption of Tammany Hall. He carried to Washington that reputation and that habit of scrupulous honesty. Cleveland might have been a man of limited vision; but he was too forthright and straight to deceive even himself – although in any audience the most credulous member is always oneself. Warren Harding had some good economic ideas, or rather he allowed the good economic ideas of others to pass with his signature. But he was a cad, married to an ambitious shrew. Are we supposed to believe that his laziness in the Senate and his unfaithfulness to his wife had nothing to do with the jobbing politicians he later surrounded himself with? Kennedy was a notorious womanizer. He also embroiled himself with members of organized crime. These things are not related? Lyndon Johnson was another womanizer, who stole his first election to Congress from Texas, and who, in a bald-faced lie, suggested that his opponent Barry Goldwater would be likely to blow up the world in a nuclear holocaust. He did this while planning to prosecute the war in Vietnam. Nothing to notice there? Richard Nixon is said to have carried on a long extramarital affair. I cannot vouch for the truth of this, but if it were true, would anyone be surprised? Was anyone surprised when the Great Buffoon drew attention away from his depravities by bombing what was supposed to have been a munitions factory in the Sudan, and turned out to be an aspirin factory? The current President made pals with a couple of notorious domestic terrorists, Bill Ayer and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn. That bears no relation to his contempt for the Consitution?

It is not true that men of great integrity have always made great presidents. Hoover was a national hero before he was elected to office. Carter, despite some unpleasant character traits, was an honest man, and a very bad president. But I believe the record shows that cads in life are cads in office. Yet in general it also shows that men of integrity are to be preferred. Better Cleveland than Arthur; better Coolidge than Harding; better Reagan than Nixon; better George H. W. Bush than Clinton.

The single point that Dr. Ablow makes on behalf of Mr. Gingrich, after he dismisses venality as irrelevant, is that the man must be a tremendous persuader, to entice two women into affairs and then marriage, even while each of them knew he was being unfaithful to the previous wife. Is that what we want, a slick talker? How I long for the days when William McKinley, another honest man and devoted husband, considered it beneath the dignity of a sitting president to campaign on his own behalf! We do need a persuasive man to be leader; but only on condition that he possess the moral wisdom to know what the truth is to begin with. If a man says to his wife, “I am no longer in love with you, so I am seeking a divorce,” he is being flatly dishonest. He is attempting to cast as a state of being, as something that just happens, like the weather, what is really the result of his own free choices. No one “falls” out of love, since love by its nature is what one chooses to give. The truth would sound like this: “I no longer choose to give myself to you. I am breaking the solemn promise I made before God and man. I am committing adultery with another woman, and I seek to reward myself for that adultery by dismissing you and marrying her.”

Now there’s a fellow to change the moral tenor of the nation.

Anthony Esolen

By

Professor Esolen teaches Renaissance English Literature and the Development of Western Civilization at Providence College. He is a senior editor for Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine. His most recent books are The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Press, 2010) and, most recently, Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). Professor Esolen has also translated Dante.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    #1 The Sacrament of Reconcilation IS the miracle that occurs whenever any of us approaches it. I suspect Newt went to confession before receiving Eucharist and Confirmation.

    #2 Let’s remember that Saul was personally responsible for murdering Stephen our first martyr and Paul is held up with Peter as one of the greatest of apostles and from whose Epistles we read at Mass every Sunday.

    #3 I have heard New disavow his former behavior.

    #4 When it comes it multiple marriages and then marriage in the Church, let’s remember that we have had 50 years of annulment mania in the Church wherein the criteria for what constitutes valid consent has been muddied up beyond belief (but always ex post facto).

    #5 I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about the nature of marriage (or what should be the nature of marriage). Fear not, though, because before long we will see partnerships of three’s. Why not?

    • Sarto

      Great article, professor. I am amazed how many on the religious right voted for Mr. Gingrich in South Carolina. The Dems cave in to false morality when they make their political calculations and, sigh, it looks like the core constituency of the Repubs know how to di it, too. I don’t long for the days of Reagan. Sigh, again. I long for the days of Eisenhower.

  • Mark Millward

    Well said sir! For what you say is the truth, if rather harshly and unforgivingly put. You set a high standard of life-long rectitude which is what all true me should strive for. However, even those of us who harbour the earnest desire to live as true men are not always able to do so at all times, often because (taking the example of the prisoners you cite) we experience things in our lives which can serve to derail our true vocation. With the help of Christ and his Church and her saving sacraments, it is possible to be made anew. I go so far as to suggest that the potency of Christ’s Love and Truth, once fully embraced is adequate to the task even of restoring virginity, where once it has been lost. I say this because the ultimate truth of virginity lies not solely in its physical aspects, but also in its metaphysical aspects. Christs Love and Truth can make whole the metaphysical lack. The physical lack, in one who seeks true redemption can be a spiritual spur to pursuit of Truth and rejection of future temptations. Having said that, in making a political choice, I agree that it is simpler to accept that we cannot know the state of the soul of those we are invited to vote for and to go with those whose record most clearly avoids the most egregious sins.

  • mj

    This is an excellent recollection of what we know is true–one does not compartmentalize one’s morality.

  • digdigby

    Well said! You shall know a tree by its fruits. As for Mr. Romney, (by default your preference to Mr. Gingrich), Mormon trees are famous for their gorgeous ‘fruit’. Mormonism has, at a very deep level a poison of satanic pride and weird smugness that few know or sense. It is startlingly similar to Islam in many respects as it inverts
    the teachings of Christ into their precise opposites.

  • John Zmirak

    Consider the vicious rhetoric Gingrich has consistently used over decades against better men than he is. He decided to play politics by the rules of the street. He fully deserves to be answered with barbed remarks that reflect his actual moral character and consistent choices over decades of adult life.

    As to the fact that he went to Confession–that’s between Gingrich and God. If a drunk driver goes to confession, does that mean you let him drive your schoolbus? This sacraments-as-magic thinking is what got us the sex abuse crisis. (Father Geoghan went to confession, I’m sure, and cried in the bishop’s office. How un-CHRISTIAN not to reassign him to the boys school….)

    • Rebecca

      “As to the fact that he went to Confession–that’s between Gingrich and God. If a drunk driver goes to confession, does that mean you let him drive your schoolbus? This sacraments-as-magic thinking is what got us the sex abuse crisis. (Father Geoghan went to confession, I’m sure, and cried in the bishop’s office. How un-CHRISTIAN not to reassign him to the boys school….)”

      Braovo! Well said.

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      And in St. Augustine’s case, just because he was sexually promiscuous, does that mean you make him a bishop?

  • Dr. Eric

    “Candidate Gingrich denies that he ever proposed an ‘open marriage’ to his second wife, but he certainly did violate his vows to both of his first two wives, and he must know that anyone who may even plausibly be linked to something as venal as that proposal is morally compromised as a leader. How can he gain an audience that would do anything but grin and scoff, were he to try to uphold the holiness of marriage?”

    Do we not have to concede that Mr. Gingrich did not violate the vows for the first two “wives”? Annulment is not “Catholic Divorce,” it is a decree that a marriage never took place. Like if you were confirmed with bacon grease instead of Holy Chrism, all of the constituent parts of the Sacrament weren’t there. What ever the tribunal decided, they must have had enough evidence that Mr. Gingrich was never married either time.

    I’m still not voting for him.

    • Doug Sirman

      Must have? I cannot hold to the idea that the tribunal is infallible or (don’t laugh) incorruptible. One need only be familiar with the last name, “Kennedy” to know what a twisted pack of bought-and-paid-for liars staff some tribunals.

  • Cord Hamrick

    I am sympathetic with the argument.

    On the other hand, I am sympathetic with the counter-examples given by Deacon Ed.

    Were the outcome of this argument to be dispositive in my decision of whom to vote for in the primary, I’d face a quandary of having to work it all out and see which argument, sympathies or no, is correct.

    But I don’t think that’s going to be necessary.

    Santorum is nearly out, and is unelectable.

    Paul is not nearly out, but will not be the nominee, and he is not electable: The number of Republicans who find his foreign policy and past associations so objectionable that it’ll keep them home is probably a tad over 50%. This is a shame; I probably agree with him more in a wide variety of domestic issues than with the other candidates, but Paul remains the fellow who sounds like he’s talking perfect sense right up until the moment he starts talking like a nut.

    So that leaves Newt and Mitt.

    Of the two, I find them equally unconservative.

    Let me say that again: I find them equally unconservative.

    Mitt because his history hasn’t varied much, and Newt because his has. The center-of-gravity in each case is about the same. It’s only the deviations to either side that differ: Mitt has few, and Newt has nothing but.

    Mitt governed like a blue-state governor in a blue state. You can argue that means he was a closet conservative all that time, but there’s no evidence to suggest the RINO style was a bad fit.

    Newt has in the past been the leader of a conservative Congressional takeover under the “Contract With America” banner. Surely that matters? Well, it would, were he not also the leader of an effort to undermine the Contract With America a few years later. He was, in parallel with John Kerry, for it before he was against it. Unlike John Kerry, Newt’s been against nearly every subject-matter in the world, before he was for it; or vice versa.

    It seems to me that the only consistent trait about Newt is the narcissistic desire to be the smartest, boldest, and most revolutionary man in the room. When that means slapping the face of the mainstream media and appealing to conservatives who’ve stood in the political wilderness for a few years, he’ll do it. When that means slapping the face of conservatives who’re standing by their principles and assisting their opponents to lambaste and vilify them, he’ll do that, too. He’ll campaign for spending restraint when nobody wants to talk about it; when Paul Ryan gets a plan rolling towards increasing popularity, Newt will bad-mouth it just to be contrarian.

    Or perhaps that’s not even it. Perhaps it’s that Newt can’t stand for there to be any other popular figures in the room leading anything that looks revolutionary, dominating cameras and sucking up oxygen? Perhaps the Ryan plan got badmouthed because, if anyone’s going to be having revolutionary reform ideas that pick up steam, it must be Newt?

    They say that only Nixon could have gone to China. I don’t think that’s right. Had it not already been done, I think Newt would go to China precisely because of the hope that, later on, people would be saying, “only Newt could have gone to China.”

    “To seduce Newt to the dark side” requires not that he agree with the principles of the dark side. That isn’t, I fear, a question he would ask. It requires only that betraying the principles he claims to hold look like an unexpectedly bold move on his part. If it plays to his self-image as bold statesman, count on Newt to suddenly leave all his allies dismayed and become a Sith. (“Darth Newt?”)

    That’s my read on how Newt’s personality works. I grant it’s a fallible analysis, but it seems to fit the available evidence.

    Assuming my armchair psychology has correctly summed Newt up, what would these tendencies look like in an elected president?

    I’m not sure. Perhaps he’d campaign vigorously as a pro-lifer, nominate a bunch of justices interested in overturning Roe v. Wade, and then as soon as a solid SCOTUS majority was reached and it looked like an overturn was near, he’d join Democrats in writing legislation to remove authority regarding abortion from SCOTUS and return it to the states, where Newt would soon be found campaigning for pro-choice governors.

    Or perhaps it wouldn’t be related to pro-life. As the EU crumbles, he’d probably say unnecessary kind words for the Brussels bureaucrats which undermined the British…right up to the point when he betrayed them all by encouraging Russia to become the new dominant power in Europe.

    In short, in a Gingrich presidency, I think we could expect a lot of what looked initially like good solid moves. But there would likely be one or more radical departures from good sense or from conservative principles or from both; and when people with good sense or with conservative principles objected, Newt would be likely to “double down” and verbally attack the objectors with all the forcefulness and quotability with which he currently attacks the mainstream media and the Obama administration.

    This, unquestionably, is preferable to a second Obama term.

    It is, however, open to debate whether it would be preferable to a Romney administration.

    • LV

      A well-spoken argument against both these disastrous candidates.

      The only thing I would take issue with is the comparison with a hypothetical Romney administration, as there is not a snowball’s chance in Hawaii that a living, breathing embodiment of the 1% stereotype–and the author of the protype to Obamacare, no less–can defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 general election.

      As there will never be a Romney administration, that particular line of thought is theoretical, at best.

    • Cord Hamrick

      I’m not so sure.

      One thing Romney has going for him: He can outspend the Hollywood/Obama machine all by himself, and then raise money from Republicans anxious to get rid of Obama. Money isn’t everything, but it isn’t unimportant, either.

      Honestly, my view is that Romney has a better chance of beating Obama than Gingrich…so, if Romney has no chance, neither does Gingrich.

      If that’s the case, we might as well nominate Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, just to express disgust with mainstream RINOs. We’d be sacrificing the election, of course…but according to you we’d be doing that anyway. And after a Ron P. Goldwater or a Rick S. Goldwater, perhaps a Reagan will emerge…?

      (Haley/Jindal? Christie/Rubio? some other permutation?)

  • sibyl

    This is an extremely cogent statement of the simpler sentiment I plan to put on a bumper sticker: “Ugh, Newt!”

    Seriously, though, what we really want in a president is to be the chief executor of our justly enacted laws, the commander in chief of our volunteer forces, and the chief diplomat to the world. He doesn’t have to inspire us (although that would be nice) and he doesn’t have to redeem us (he couldn’t no matter who he was). But he has to be a man of integrity to do the real job.

    Unfortunately, my cynical view is that we will never get men of integrity, now that publicity is a machine and the access to it restricted to the elite rich. I wish we could have Prof. Esolen’s dad as a candidate. But he’d never get to the primaries, because his honesty would prevent him from the kind of “finesse” and “spin” that all candidates eventually practice in order to progress.

  • Art ND’76

    Well said, Deacon Ed. I would add another Saint that would make Newt’s past life look good: Augustine of Hippo. I know some Catholic women who have misgivings about the male chauvinism of the Catholic hierarchy due to the high place given to St. Augustine and his writings.

    That said, I would greatly prefer Santorum as a choice.

    Re-electing Obama is only a choice if you think the U.S. electorate needs to be further disciplined for its ignorance, will learn from it and survive it. Apparently a lot of the electorate needed that educational discipline in 2008. I hope these last 4 years will have been enough to open their eyes.

  • Tony Esolen

    Thank you, Sibyl; that was a nice thing to say.

    I dearly wish there were only a few primaries. I wish most delegates would go to the convention uncommitted. That is, if we really want campaign finance reform, we might start by persuading the parties to ease back on the whole primary system, which requires tremendous sums of money, and which rewards shallowness and snarling attacks, rather than a substantive discussion of issues.

    Speaking of McKinley: Mark Hanna basically financed his campaign, but that was because Hanna believed that McKinley was the right man for the job. Of course Hanna had to persuade his fellow Republicans of the fact. But if we think about the man now, it’s clear that nobody of McKinley’s sort would ever be chosen by any major party for any office above that of congressman. McKinley was a kindly and intelligent man, and no one ever doubted his patriotism, his honesty, or, for what it’s worth, his belief that what was good for American industry was good for America. Anyhow, McKinley was remarkably hard-favored, as they used to say, and hardly ingratiating with anybody. He was not cut out to be a pander — or the pander’s goods.

  • Phil

    If Newt’s love is this country and he is repentant, why is he not supporting for president someone who has shown the qualities that a good president should have.? Simple: He is still driven by a lust for power.
    If Newt was the man he claims to be? he would be campaigning for Rick Santorum. Santorum does not have any of Newt’s flaws and as the nation is making perfectly clear he doesn’t exibit the “Glamour of Evil” either. We don’t want a president with good character and high morals. I believe God may be saving Rick from a mess he cannot fix.

    • Rebecca

      I agree completely. I would still vote for Newt, but the idea that his conversion to Catholicism has rendered him impervious to temptations that he previously struggled with and have magically undone all of his character flaws is superstitious thinking and only sets people up for a massive disappointment.

    • Rebecca

      This reminds me a bit of a woman who was dating a man who was separated from his wife, and wrote to a Catholic blogger to ask him how she could tell if he was truly changed. He answered, “That’s simple. If he goes back to reconcile with his wife, he’s changed. If he keeps dating you, he has not changed.”

  • Art C

    Anthony Esolen:

    You cannot have it both ways. Your article starts off with a disclaimer: Allow me at the outset to state that I do not claim to know the state of Mr. Gingrich’s soul. I presume that his conversion to Roman Catholicism was sincere. You then say “I do not know what Gingrich is thinking and feeling now. But I do know he has behaved disgracefully in the past. The old-fashioned word dishonor comes to mind.” True enough. However, your article continues nontheless on a critique of Dr Ablow’s comments, while saying things about Gingrich such as “But if all the pipes in my house need replacement, then there is no way I will call upon a man who has dishonored himself; and I don’t care how skilled he is with the blowtorch. I won’t trust him.”
    You have taken your measure of Gingrich and decided to reject him and that is your right to do.
    However, I think you are being dismissive of the effect that God’s grace has on a man converted to Christ. As a former adulterer to my wife, I can tell you that it is very painful to acknowledge the harm and pain it caused my wife and children. But a sincere apology and a strong will to make amends allowed forgiveness to be granted to me by my family. And it was a reliance on God’s mercy upon me that produced a stronger marriage than I had before my fall.
    Newt has stated that his conversion to Catholicism made him a new man and through the reconciliation with God through the sacrament of confession, has found forgiveness. This I believe has undoubtedly had a profound effect upon him. Evangelicals understand the repentant soul who admits his failings and I wish our brother Catholics would not be so quick to make a judgement upon Newt. It is because of liberal Catholics who have not understood the Catholic teaching of subsidiarity, promoted by Democratic leading Bishops, that we have a man like President Obama..the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual president this country has ever known. It is radical dissident Catholics like Biden, Kerry, Kennedy, Dodd, Pelosi, and Secretary Sebelius, that the Church finds itself being persecuted from within. The Catholic vote delivered up this nation to this un-Godless, Marxist President and now we are reaping what we have sowed. But I digress.
    I am willing to give Newt the benefit of the doubt and vote for him as I’ve been there and done that and can relate to his conversion story.
    Unlike some people, I do believe that the Word of God is able to do what it claims to say “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17). In God’s eyes, we are a new creation totally pleasing and acceptable to Him. Should we not give Newt the benefit of the doubt or should we hold his previous marital transgressions in perpetuity? The fact that Newt took RCIA classes and entered into the “Ark of Salvation” is truly a miracle of grace. He may not been knocked off his horse like Saul of Tarsus, but the transformation of a notorious hypocritical Southern Baptist to a Roman Catholic convert has the potential to do tremendous good for our nation. Does this not display the wisdom of God in that he chooses the most unworthy souls for great missions? Truly, our country is far removed from God’s providence by its suicidal plunge into apostasy and betrayal of the Gospel. Who is to say that God is attempting to deliver this country from the evil that we pray for everyday when we pray the Pater Noster? Can Newt be that vessel for this monumental task? I don’t know but will keep hoping for and praying for someone who puts God first, and then all things are added unto him. Our current President is a manifestation of the sign of the times we are living in, in which the wholesale abandonment of the authentic Christian faith is in full bloom. These are truly the times that try men’s souls and I fear what the future holds because our Catholic faith teaches that the apostasy is the pre-condition for the appearance of the “lawless one”. Yet, I fear not for me and my family, but for the Church of Christ, which now, prophetically lives the hour of its via Dolorosa on its way to Calvary.
    Note: Please note that I do not wish any ill will upon anyone posting here. If my remarks come across an uncharitable, the failure is mine. God bless!

    • Rebecca

      “Evangelicals understand the repentant soul who admits his failings and I wish our brother Catholics would not be so quick to make a judgement upon Newt.”

      It’s important to remember why they do this; it’s because of their theology. Evangelicals believe that a person who has repented is immediately changed and sanctified. Sanctification for them is not a process that requires cooperation with grace; it is instantaneous and requires no effort or work on the part of the repentant sinner. One minute the person is a sinner, the next minute he is perfect. This is not the teaching of the Catholic Church.

      • Cord Hamrick

        Rebecca:

        Watch out, there. Evangelicals as a whole do not believe what you said. I can’t think of any large denomination or non-denominational parachurch group in the whole Evangelical spectrum that would agree to the things you described.

        (There might, because of the lack of central and firm authority for deciding such questions, be a fringe Evangelical here and there who’d agree to what you said. But it’s not the norm.)

        I was an evangelical for 35 years, and not an inattentive one. I’m not sure where you’re getting these characterizations…were you relying on your own perceptions of the kinds of things Evangelicals say? If so, then trust me: Evangelicals speak a different language, and it appears something critical has been lost in translation.

        The usual Evangelical view, especially in the non-denominational world, is more like this:

        1. People are adopted into Christ (“saved”) at the time of adult belief, usually through some distinctive conversion experience in which the will of the believer acts in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to trust Christ for salvation. Baptism comes shortly thereafter, being viewed as an outward sign of the earlier inward event. (But still essential in a limited sense, in that a refusal to be baptized would strongly suggest that there had been no true and sincere interior conversion.)

        2. Evangelicals disagree about whether, after initial salvation, you can “lose your salvation” (a Catholic would say, “cease to be in a state of grace”), and if so, how. Some say only by apostasy; some say by apostasy OR willful and unrepentant sin until death.

        There are even some who say it’s not possible to lose salvation no matter what you do or how you change your beliefs. However, they would all say that ongoing willful and unrepentant sin or apostasy was a sign that the person was not saved and not going to heaven. The way they square this apparent contradiction is by saying that anyone who appeared initially to be saved, and later appeared to be an apostate or reprobate, had never really been saved to begin with; that their initial Christianity had been superficial. (That’s an oversimplification lumping the “once saved always saved” crowd and the Calvinist “TULIP” crowd into the same group when they’re actually distinct from one another…but the distinction is not critical here.)

        3. Evangelicals generally use the triad “justification, sanctification, glorification” to refer respectively to initial salvation (first conversion), ongoing growth in holiness, and the achievement of saintly perfection in Heaven. They believe that after initial conversion, bad habits are gradually replaced with good ones through the influence of the Holy Spirit on the believer. A believer who does not submit each facet of his life to Christ’s lordship can still be saved, in this view, but is a “carnal Christian”; that is, one in which sanctification is proceeding slowly or not at all because he is backsliding instead of submitting to the activity of the Holy Spirit who desires to grow him in holiness.

        That’s a pretty good summary of the usual Evangelical view.

        While this is not the same as the Catholic view, it’s much closer to the Catholic view than it is to the straw-man you articulated.

        (By using the term “straw man” I’m not saying that you meant to be inaccurate; I’m just saying that the view you gave is not in fact the usual Evangelical view of sanctification, and is in fact a sloppy caricature similar to those who claim that Catholics worship Mary and believe the pope is sinless.)

        All this is by-the-way. It’s not critical to the ongoing thread of conversation…but what you said Evangelicals believe was pretty wildly off-the-mark, so I wanted to issue a correction lest anyone else, who didn’t know better, should see it and think it was correct.

        • Rebecca

          Cord, I too grew up as an Evangelical Christian, and half of my family members are Evangelical Christians.

  • robert reilly

    In politics, the choice of a lesser evil is morally mandatory.

    Esolen fails in not addressing any viable alternative to Gingrich in this respect.

    Name any moral issue about which Catholics care, and ask yourself who is more passionate about them and whose record shows past commitment to them.

    If your answer is Romney, you have not read deeply enough.

    • Cord Hamrick

      Robert:

      My complaint is that, for any given Issue X of concern to Catholics, Gingrich’s past record so often shows a cycling between extreme, seemingly passionate interest in Issue X and utter disinterest in Issue X; or in some cases passionate commitment to one approach to Issue X, and passionate commitment to the diametrically opposite view.

      Romney’s consistently a Republican Moderate, or as I usually say, a RINO. He’s better than Arlen Specter, but not better than Lindsay Graham or John McCain.

      And I nearly left the presidential question empty last time, so disgusted was I with the flaws of John McCain.

      So I don’t for a minute deny Romney’s flaws.

      But I think you overstate the reliability of Gingrich’s advocacy for any particular position that Catholics are concerned about.

      I’m not saying he won’t advocate it, whatever it is. I just worry he’ll suddenly, out-of-nowhere, advocate the opposite of it, or some off-the-wall alternative to it, and leave his erstwhile supporters feeling knifed in the back.

      Gingrich led the “Contract With America” crowd only to nearly disembowel it later (provoking a revolt amongst more principled conservatives). He was against Paul Ryan’s deficit reduction ideas before he was for them…or was it the reverse? At any rate, he called it “right wing social-engineering” in an off-the-cuff slap which shocked conservatives and delighted leftists, right at the moment that deficit-reduction plan (then and now the closest thing to a serious proposal yet suggested) had been getting some traction. Similar reversals are part of his record on Individual Mandates, on Medicare Part D, on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with respect to that advertisement with Nancy Pelosi….

      So whereas Romney’s a persistent, plodding, predictable RINO, Gingrich oscillates wildly all over the spectrum. Is he a bastion of conservatism or a backstabber of conservatives? A prominent anti-governmental-overreach crusader, or a proposer of new programs which suggest a belief in an unbounded scope of governmental involvement? Which is he? Well, what day is it?

      One can hardly know which way he’ll jump next unless there’s some hidden pattern we haven’t yet discerned. Perhaps, like Captain Ramius of Red October, he always goes to the right in the bottom half of the hour?

      Well, perhaps it’s not quite that random. The pattern seems to be:

      1. He currently holds a view which is either bold and groundbreaking, or statesmanlike in the sense of breaking with his party, or convenient for winning over a part of the electorate he really needs in the next election;

      2. He holds that view passionately, excoriating anyone holding the opposing view; and,

      3. At one point or another he endorsed the opposing view, and held it passionately, at a time when the opposing view was more convenient and his current view, less so.

      Now, he’s a great debater, for certain.

      But is there a man with core convictions in there, any more? Or is he more an automated polemicist, now?

      I mean, has he turned into someone who’ll adopt any old idea, so long as it’s either politically convenient or ego-stroking…and then go on to fiercely and eloquently advocate that idea, right up until it ceases to be useful to his political advancement or his ego?

      There are, I grant, certain obvious exceptions to this unpredictability, notably in the pro-life area. Even there, there has been slight movement (from life begins “at implantation” to “at conception” if I’m parsing his earlier interviews correctly) but I’ll certainly not argue that it’s a wild reversal. So that’s a good thing.

      Still…I wish his history produced a more predictable pattern; a nice clump of data-plots grouped closely around a consistent, smooth trend-line. As it is, I feel there are more outliers than there are points lying right on the trend-line.

      Despite everything I just said, I may yet vote for Gingrich in the primary.

      After all, as you say, the choice of the lesser evil is morally mandatory. And it’s easy to see that each of the remaining GOP candidates is preferable to Obama.

      But which among the Republicans is the least bad, the lesser evil?

      That, I don’t know, and the chief reason is that, while I think I know who and what Romney is, I’m really not confident I know who and what Gingrich is. I know he’s a former philanderer, a powerful debater, and bit of a pompous smart-ass. But apart from that…?

      • Midwestern Trad

        Cord, why not vote for Ron Paul? Honestly, what do we really have to lose by voting in the primary for him?

  • Mark Kirby

    Ronald Reagan was a divorced man.

  • sibyl

    Chesterton 2012!

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    I have read many comments here, as well as on other blogs about Gingrich’s moral character. I can safely say this: My mind (and spirit) are greatly soothed by the fact that I am a cradle Catholic since, if I had not been born into the faith, I believe that witnessing how Catholics treat other Catholics, I would be loathe to enter the Church.

    I am not talking here just about my observations about Newt Gingrich. I have been around the Church for many decades and have witnessed far too many examples of the uncharity with which Catholics treat fellow Catholics. (not that it’s at all OK to treat non-Catholics badly).

    It does give me reason to pause and reflect lest I do not fall into this same sin – although i must confess there are times when I have been just as guilty. You will know my disciples by the love they have for one another. Don’t we expect better treatment by family members than we would by those outside our family?

    • John Zmirak

      I’ve also seen Catholics be guilty of INCREDIBLE, culpable naivete, trusting people because of their apparent practice of the externals of the Faith, while neglecting reason, prudence and discernment. Heck, I’ve been guilty of it myself. MOST of the sex abuse crisis boiled down to this “misguided compassion” and lazy group-think. Read this NY Times story from TODAY, about how the Archdiocese of NY hired a convicted felon to handle its money–without performing a background check, because she… showed up at daily Mass. I’m sure she sat bang up in the front row, because she was playing a ROLE, auditioning for the role of wolf in sheep’s clothing. She stole over $1 million of hard-working Catholic’s donations in the seven years it took her to get caught:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/31/nyregion/new-york-archdiocese-bookkeeper-charged-with-stealing-1-million.html?_r=1&hp

      TWO THIRDS of our bishops believed the lies and excuses of sex abusers. MOST of the bishops supported Obama’s absurd health-care plan, with just a few cavils, confident that they’d be exempted from its tyrannical power-grab.

      As we found out last week: Oops.

      I don’t think that an excess of scrutiny or criticism is the problem we face today. Quite the contrary.

  • Cord Hamrick

    Deacon Ed:

    I agree with you that we should treat our family members with great charity.

    But let’s all keep in mind (I know you already know this, Deacon, I am only highlighting it to make the issue perfectly clear to all participants in this thread) that when one observes a person repeatedly committing Sin X, one comes simultaneously to two, entirely separate, conclusions:

    1. This is a person who has in fact committed Sin X; which means they are in need of (if unrepentant) exhortation towards repentance and then (once repentant) mercy and grace and forgiveness and fellowship; and,

    2. This is a person who tends to commit Sin X; which may make him ineligible for certain jobs and likely to be an unreliable person to have around in certain situations.

    So, after the person repents, we are to respond with mercy and grace and forgiveness. This takes the form of fellowship, of non-condemnation, of not “shooting the wounded.” Fair enough.

    But, even while we break bread with and befriend the repentant man, we are aware of the public sin. (I’m emphasizing public so that what I say does not get sidetracked by the possibility of things revealed under the seal of confession.)

    Because we’re aware of the tendency of that man to sin in that way, we remain obligated not to hire the man for jobs for which he is ineligible, and not to rely on him in situations where we already know he’s likely to be untrustworthy.

    Thus you forgive the drunk who crashed his car into your house. You befriend him, you invite him to church. But you don’t then hire him as a limousine driver in the downtown nightclubs circuit.

    Or, a more extreme example: You forgive the pedophile who molested you. But if you have any say in his employment, you don’t put him in charge of after-school sports at the YMCA.

    So how does this apply to Gingrich?

    I prescind entirely from the question of whether the character flaws revealed by his publicly known behavior are ones which, in a president, are either extremely undesirable or actually disqualifying.

    I say only that,

    IF the character flaws revealed by his publicly known behavior happen to be flaws which, in a president, are either extremely undesirable or actually disqualifying…

    THEN discussing these flaws and eliminating him from consideration for the presidency on the basis of them is not necessarily a sign of unforgiveness or a lack of charity.

    If done in a civil and calm way, with a certain degree of polite regret, then it is mere prudence: A careful evaluation of the credentials of a prospective employee.

    If, on the other hand, it is done in a nasty-toned and high-handed way, then of course it might reveal unforgiveness and ungraciousness in the writer.

    It is the difference between saying, “He’s obviously a hopeless reprobate, and I expect he and his slut 3rd wife will rot in hell” and saying, “While I am happy about his conversion and hope that his sanctification is proceeding quickly — and hopefully more smoothly than my own, which is sometimes a bit of a slog! — I nevertheless, with regret, cannot recommend a person with his particular history for high office.”

  • Mark Higdon

    What an unbelievable quantity of cyber-ink has been spilled here! My thoughts in re Gingrich begin and end with this: When he converted to Catholicism, he should have quietly disappeared from public life to spend the remainder of his days as an anonymous celibate in a holy cloister.

  • Tony Esolen

    Cord states my position exactly.

    I will certainly vote for whoever runs against Mr. Obama, because that fellow stands shoulder to shoulder with all those who detest all I love: my faith, my family, and the old freedoms this country once stood for. That means I would vote for Mr. Gingrich over Mr. Obama, and I would not hesitate about that. But I can’t be persuaded that it would be a good choice to have to make, and I won’t concede that dishonorable actions may simply be dismissed when we are evaluating a person’s fitness for high office. Both the Buffoons, Mr. and Mrs., made dishonorable deeds into a second nature. For the record, it’s not clear to me that “dishonor” precisely describes the moral failing of Mr. Obama, but rather that he is fairly straightforwardly committed to evil things he judges as good, like the state’s usurpation of the authority and the liberty of every mediating institution in the country, beginning with the family and ending at the boundaries of Washington.

  • Cord Hamrick

    Tony:

    I’m glad you feel I’ve exactly spelled your position on the difference between forgiving a man his past sins and refusing to take them into account as a new hire for an important job.

    One nitpick, though: Your position includes a firm statement that the particular character flaws exhibited by Gingrich’s past history are significantly disadvantageous in a president. I prescinded entirely from that question.

    So to be perfectly accurate (or a perfectly tiresome nitpicker, if you like!) my post stated your position exactly, on every point where it stated a position at all; but on one critical point where you asserted your view, my post gave no opinion.

    Eh, I probably just spent five times more keystrokes making that clarification than it really warranted. Sorry. Going to bed now.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    I am ignorant about whether Newt and his present wife were married in the Catholic Church. Presuming that they were, I would guess that, despite either of their pasts, the Church felt that those pasts did not pose a hindrance to their fulfilling their vows as a married couple i.e. to be faithful to one another. If the Church thought, on the other hand, that there were no impediments to marriage and proceeded with the Sacrament, it is hard for me to understand how they would qualify for a sacramental marriage in the Church but not be qualified to hold public office. Fidelity as a character trait is more immediately germane to marriage than it is to the presidency.

  • Cord Hamrick

    Deacon Ed:

    I’m not sure I follow your thinking, there.

    My impression is that, yes, Newt and Callista were married in the Church.

    So far as I know, the only reasons the Church would have denied them the sacrament are:

    (a.) If Newt’s prior marriages had been sacramental ones; or,

    (b.) If what Newt and Callista intended by getting married was not compatible with what the Church says is characteristic of a sacramental marriage (e.g., if they intended to have an “open” marriage or, assuming they’re both fertile, to contracept in order to entirely prevent children).

    So what do we know?

    We know that Newt’s prior marriages were non-sacramental and decreed them no impediment.

    And we know that they told the priest they were intending fidelity.

    But it doesn’t follow that Newt has a history of keeping vows he makes when, after a while, they begin to conflict with his other inclinations. Presumably he had similar intent with each of his previous wives, at the outset.

    I don’t, therefore, think that we can conclude, on the basis of Newt and Callista obtaining a sacramental marriage, that the Church has made some kind of infallible pronouncement that Newt Gingrich has no character traits that are undesirable in a husband.

    And even if we concluded that the Church had somehow ruled that Newt’s past history didn’t hint at undesirable character traits for marriage, I don’t think that could be used to prove that he has undesirable character traits for the presidency.

    So it seems to me that the Church’s granting of a sacramental marriage to Newt and Callista isn’t germane.

  • Deacon Ed Peitler

    Cord,
    The Church would require that no defect of will existed such that they could not live out the intention of fidelity.

    There are psychological factors that qualify for annulments such that there are found to have existed impediments of will that precluded one or both of the couple from making the necessary commitment to the marriage (such as a personality disorder, gross immaturity, substance abuse, etc). If the Church saw no defect of will in their desire for a sacramental marriage, I would presume that whatever happened previously would not be found operative to their current circumstances.

    I am not of the mind that people cannot change – psychologically, morally, behaviorally, characterologically. That is why I have a hard time understanding all this hoopla about Newt’s character. Show me the evidence that he is presently unfit morally or characterologically for either marriage or the presidency.

    • Cord Hamrick

      Deacon Ed:

      Keep in mind that I am not, myself, convinced that a habit of infidelity bears significantly on one’s qualifications for the presidency.

      I keep refusing to comment about that, because while I’d rather (for P.R. reasons if nothing else) have a non-philanderer than a philanderer, or a reformed philanderer than a current philanderer), I’d take a philandering strict constructionist pro-lifer over a faithful constitutionally liberal pro-choicer any day of the week. I just plain don’t know how to quantify how much of a difference it makes.

      So, in my question about (or mild objection to) your prior post, I was not trying to say, “No, Deacon, he was unfaithful; therefore he should not be president.”

      I wasn’t saying that. I don’t believe that.

      I was instead trying to say, “You are bringing up the facts of his having been through the annulment procedure and his having received the sacrament of marriage in a way that suggests you think this means the Church has authoritatively decided that, whatever character flaws he once had which led to his infidelities, he no longer has. And I find that argument, if that is indeed what you’re arguing, very implausible.”

      You are correct that there could be an “impediment of will” that could prevent him from receiving the sacrament. But I covered that under my option (b.), or meant to. If Newt and Callista, in saying they wanted to “get married,” either did not, or were unable to, intend what the Church intends when speaking of the sacrament of marriage, that would have been an impediment.

      So, if one of them was a sociopath unable to comprehend the notion of a vow or the moral obligation to keep it, they’d have such an impediment.

      But I don’t think anyone argues that about Gingrich. He was able to keep his former vows; he chose not to. He is able to keep his current one; but what if he lapses back into his former pattern and chooses not to? A priest might judge that pretty likely on the basis of knowing the man, while still not quite rising to the level of an “impediment” such as would prevent the sacrament.

      So I don’t think the fact of having received the sacrament tells us anything about his likelihood of serving effectively and honorably in the office of husband. It eliminates some absolute disqualifiers, of a kind no one was contemplating anyway, but doesn’t eliminate the concerns people were contemplating.

      And that’s all having to do with the office of husband. As I’ve already stated, I’m not sure concerns about his character and likely behavior as a husband apply much to how he’ll perform as a president. I think maybe they don’t.

      But I did want to point out that, even were it true that Good Husband Equals Good President and that Bad Husband Equals Bad President, we could not use the fact of Newt having entered a sacramental marriage to prove that he would be a good husband (still less a good president).

  • Cord Hamrick

    Midwestern Trad said,

    Cord, why not vote for Ron Paul? Honestly, what do we really have to lose by voting in the primary for him?

    I’m tempted, I’m tempted.

    If he has no chance to win the primary, I probably will.

    But you know, it’s tough. All the remaining GOP candidates are preferable to Obama, but all of them have serious problems in both the ability-to-win-the-general-election area and in the faithfulness-to-conservative-small-gov-principles area.

    And with Paul, there’s another problem: He wants to get out of foreign furballs, which I’m okay with, but shows an instinct to draw back so far that we lose our ability to project power, which I’m not okay with. We need to be out of our current scrapes, so we can look really well-prepared and stocked to face the next set of scrapes, which will be worse and more dangerous for the average American.

    I’m here to tell you the next 100 years are going to be brutal and bloody in the international scene. It’ll be multipolar and lawless the way the 17th-19th centuries were, but weaponized and nasty the way the 20th century was. Expect an EMP, expect cyberwarfare, expect biowarfare, expect it in Kansas. And if Tel Aviv isn’t melted to glass in the next quarter-century, it’ll only be because the Iranian revolution happened before the Ayatollahs got the bomb and a decent delivery system. I don’t think Paul sees that, or perhaps he doesn’t care, which I find disturbing.

    So I keep playing Mr. Potato Head.

    Playing Mr. Potato Head

    What we really need is Ron Paul’s domestic spending restraint, Gingrich’s debating skills, Romney’s looks, Cain’s likability, Santorum’s family life and pro-life credentials. We need something like a Rubio/Haley or Jindal/West ticket. We need a Hispanic candidate who’ll pull a Nixon-Goes-To-China and seal the border, while making the legal work visas more numerous and rewarding those who do it the legal way.

    You can go fantasy football team all day, if you get started: We want a Supreme Court made up of Thomas, Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Ponnuru, Alito, Scalia, Roberts, and Chief Justice Thomas.

    But, hey. Why ask for a fantasy political team of other people, when we could just make me dictator for a decade?

    Imperator Hamricus Maximus: A Platform For Change You Can Believe In

    Let me see…what do we really need?

    We need 9-9-9, constitutionally limited to 9-9-9. We need the 10th Amendment to be respected for a change. We may need the Senators to be chosen directly by the state legislatures as they once were, to restore some of the balance of power.

    We need a child tax credit that amounts to $9000 per year for kids less than 1 year old, $8500 for 1-year olds, $8000 for 2-year olds, $7500 for 3-year olds, and so on. We need HSA’s, ESA’s, and RSA’s to handle all health expenses, education expenses, and retirement expenses, along with low cost insurance for truly unexpected needs…and no other mandate or expenditure or medical entitlement of any kind at the Federal level, apart from the CDC and military biowarfare defenses. Let the states do the rest.

    We need Federal reimbursement for medical spending in pregnancy and extreme old age that equals 5% of expenditures for women in the first month or old folks who’ve reached 110% of the mean life expectancy for folks born in their year; 10% for women in the second month or folks at 120% of mean life expectancy, 15% for 3rd month/130%; 20% for 4th month/140%, and so on.

    Some of that’s not terribly libertarian of me. But bundled with a 9% flat income tax as part of 9-9-9, and the elimination of corporate welfare of all kinds, it’d be a darned sight better than the status quo.

    For anti-gerrymandering purposes, we need the selection of the borders of congressional districts to be constitutionally limited to a choice between the two proposed maps with the lowest cumulative district perimeters (Propose a map with too much gerrymandering, and all your opponents have to do is propose two maps with less gerrymandering, and your map suddenly ceases to be an option.)

    We need the participants of gay pride parades to be sent to sensitivity training courses designed by a committee of parents of young children who were the top 100 finalists in a nationwide Bible-verse memorization contest.

    We need every baby boomer who still wears tie-dyed shirts sent to a boot camp run by R. Lee Ermey.

    We need every Hollywood starlet who has either a substance abuse problem or a leaked porn tape to spend a year in a convent run by Irish Nuns.

    We need St. Thomas Aquinas determining tenure for all university professors.

    We need Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley fumigated.

    We need a 20%-25%-30%-35%-40% tax on all profits for American-made mass media in the overseas market, and a 0%-2%-4%-6%-8% tax for American-made mass media in the American market. The five percentages are according to ratings (G-PG-PG13-R-X), and nobody should be allowed to vote on setting the ratings system unless they’re a parent of young children residing in a low-population-density community.

    We need a presidential (and during my term, dictatorial!) finding stating clearly that, for the purposes of Federal Law and Constitutional Interpretation, unalienable human rights accrue to the individual from conception until natural death.

    I’ll set up my campaign website and begin accepting donations tomorrow. Who’s in?

    ***** NOTE *****
    The above started as kvetching.
    It ended as farcical facetiousness.
    Do not take either too seriously.
    If nominated I will not run.
    If elected I will not serve.
    Unless the hours are good, and you get dental with that.
    Do you get dental with that?

  • http://www.facebook.com/larryrob Larry Robinson

    I’d like to speak to this issue on marriage, divorce, and Newt
    Gingrich as both an Evangelical Pastor and as an involved
    Conservative Christian.

    We Christian evangelicals can accept Gingrich in the same way we
    know how God also forgave us for our moral failings. There are no
    Christians who have not sinned. Nor are there any Christians who did
    not need forgiveness and redemption with God. All Christians, myself
    included have committed sins against God and have failed ourselves
    and others. Like Gingrich we have all had to acknowledge our moral
    failings against God, repent of those past actions, and seek His
    forgiveness and grace.

    Hebrews 10:15-17 “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for
    after He had said before, “This is the
    covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD:
    I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write
    them,” then He adds, “Their sins and
    their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”

    Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, So far
    has He removed our transgressions from us.”

    1 John 1:8-9 “If we say that we have
    no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we
    confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
    sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will
    not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither
    fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor
    sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers,
    nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some
    of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were
    justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our
    God.”

    That is the heart of Christianity. We all have had moral failings
    but God’s desire is about reconciling us to Himself. So we celebrate
    with Newt Gingrich in his recognition of his failings and his need to
    be reconciled with God, and the forgiveness and grace that he has
    received from God.

    Pastor Larry Robinson

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