The Gingrich Problem

According to exit polls in South Carolina, more than half of the people who voted in the Republican primary describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians.  Most of those voters said that it is very important to them that a candidate share their beliefs.  Most of them voted for Newt Gingrich.

These polling data are strange.  To begin with, the only Protestant still running for the Republican nomination is Ron Paul, who is a Southern Baptist.  Gingrich is a recent convert to Roman Catholicism.  Santorum is also a Catholic.  Romney is a Mormon.  So, if South Carolina voters who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical want a candidate who shares their beliefs, Ron Paul would have been the better choice.  A few of them, apparently, made that choice, but most did not.

Of course, the more glaring problem is Gingrich’s personal life.  I won’t rehash it, as it is well known by now.  I do not understand how evangelicals in the Republican Party can overlook Gingrich’s indiscretions.  The reason that I do not understand it is that evangelicals, as a general group, were out for blood when Clinton’s affair with an intern came to light.  They wanted him impeached and found guilty and ousted.

Here’s the thing.  Everyone who was willing to overlook Clinton’s bad behavior has no business maligning Gingrich.  Likewise, everyone who wanted Clinton’s head on a platter has no business excusing Gringrich’s behavior and supporting him in the nomination process.  It is called hypocrisy and a lack of integrity.

I am speaking in generalities, which has its drawbacks.  Obviously each individual is responsible for his own actions.  I myself was against Clinton for his disgraceful conduct; therefore, I am against Gingrich.  My moral sensibilities do not change just because a candidate has a different party’s initial after his name.  In fact, a case could be made that Clinton is an overall morally superior person to Gingrich, since he has stayed married to his first wife and apparently–one can hope–has learned to be faithful to her.

It is probably unfair for nonchristians to judge Christians as a group; it is always unfair to judge individuals for the behavior of a group.  However, unbelievers will judge Christians, and the judgment will not be favorable.  As a group, the so-called Christian right acts hypocritically, excusing the sins of Republicans and hammering on the sins of Democrats.  (Of course, the same thing happens in the converse, but let’s not go there.)

Here’s the bigger problem.  Nominee Gingrich will carry a lot of baggage.  Faithful family man, Barack Obama, will be his opponent.  Not only will Gingrich’s moral failings come into play, but so will the ethics charges that were brought against him in the House of Representatives.  He might be well qualified to be President, and I believe he is, but his dirty laundry will be a huge liability.

It makes no difference to me who the Republicans nominate.  However, if they are smart and–more so–if they want to live up to their stated principles, Republicans who are evangelical will not help to nominate Gingrich, and they will not vote for him if he does get the nomination.

 

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17 responses to “The Gingrich Problem

  1. It is really beyond astounding that a Catholic who left his dying wife, and divorced his second one because she wouldn’t consent to his swinger lifestyle, would win half the Evangelical and married female vote. There are no words to describe the absurdity of it all.

  2. Of course, the more glaring problem is Gingrich’s personal life. I won’t rehash it, as it is well known by now. I do not understand how evangelicals in the Republican Party can overlook Gingrich’s indiscretions

    They dont, like they have said, they are looking for someone who share’s their belief system. You know that one, get all you can and then ask for forgiveness when you get caught. And if you dont get caught, keep on, getting on, lol. ;)

    Birds of a feather, flock together.

  3. This is not really a problem for anyone, except as a tool to use in the political fighting to paint Gingrich (or any politician) as less than capable to hold the job as President.

    Is Gingrich an adulterer? Yes, but that is an issue between him and God. If one’s moral standing in their marital relationships is to be a consideration for whatever job they endeavor to hold then where does it stop? What if one was trying to be a police officer, firefighter, teacher, bank teller, etc.? Are they worthy to hold those positions? If we apply this standard to one, we must apply it to all – which would lead to a very small employable group in the nation.

    It is – as I said – a problem Gingrich must answer to God over. After all we are all sinners. Was Peter less capable as an Apostle for denying Jesus three times?

    For the record: I do not support Gingrich and wouldn’t vote for the man – but that is based on his political stances and history.

  4. StarshipTroopers>>42

    There is an old cartoon that shows a man sawing off a limb from a tree — while sitting on the wrong side. Now imagine an entire group of people engaged in this activity. (No, Ron Paul is not an exception, as the racial demeaning flyers issues under his name indicate.) But don’t feel bad. The Democrats and liberals are in the same boat (or on the same branch), as time will soon bring into the light.

    It’s only in religious fantasies, that anyone is without fault, and He hasn’t shown up in 2,000 years, so keep holding your breath and expecting him to pop in any minute.

  5. There is an old cartoon that shows a man sawing off a branch of a tree — while he sits on it. Now imagine an entire group of people engaged in the same activity — only call them the Republicans. Is Ron Paul (the man allegedly with racist flyers and newsletters in his past) an exception? I doubt it.

    Are Democrats and liberals — and let’s use an even more dirty word — moderates an exception? No, of coure not. Nobody is perfect.

    And for the evangelical Christians who populate and post at this site — the allegedly perfect “Son of God” who was born as a man who is the one perfect individual who is supposed to show up some day … well, 2,000 years and counting. Oh, well, “hope” is one of humans’ most favorite words. Hang in there. Only two thousand more years to go.

  6. I am not saying that Gingrich’s past behavior necessarily disqualifies him. I am pointing out the inconsistency in some Christians saying that the candidate’s beliefs matter to them and their choosing Gingrich over Paul. It is a strange phenomenon. I am pointing out the hypocrisy in condemning Clinton but excusing Gingrich.

  7. Character matters a lot to me when it comes to a President, which is why I never liked Clinton that much (though I did think the GOP went too far when they impeached him). I think Romney has the character to be President (and Gingrich has been just as malleable in his politics as Romney has), as does Obama. Clinton, Nixon and others lacked character, but managed to be effective (though both Clinton and Nixon were harmed by their flaws). I just can’t believe the Republicans would nominate Gingrich.

  8. Scott, I would not have believed it, but Gingrich won big in South Carolina. How do you explain it? I can’t. It seems to have something to do with media exposure and the advertisements.

    Your analysis is spot on, as usual, in regard to previous presidents and the current candidates.

    Romney certainly seems to be a man of principle and character, but he certainly should not be as popular among evangelicals as he is–from a liberal state, a bit too smooth, a Mormon. Ron Paul is more like most evangelical voters, and yet most are shying away from him.

  9. Ron Paul polls well head to head with Obama — about the same as Romney. He’s a bit old, but seems to be very sharp. I think foreign policy is where Paul loses a lot of Republicans (but gains a lot of young people).

  10. I have to say, were Newt a liberal, I generally wouldn’t like him for his personal problems, but the reason that I wouldn’t vote for him is the corruption. He was a corrupt Speaker of the House, the first one to be reprimanded, mostly by members of his own party (some of the Democrats at the time abstained because they thought he was getting off much too lightly).

    We’re not the party of family values: people make mistakes and can be forgiven, and I would never base my decision on the personal life of a candidate. So yeah, I would vote for a divorced member of the Democratic Party running for office. But corruption? That’s another story. Corrupt politicians seeking power is like leading the gambler back to the Casino, and they should be kept away because you’ll never be able to trust them to lead without their own interests being held paramount.

  11. Spherical Time, you make a very good point. The corruption distresses me more, as well.

    The divorces themselves are not so bad to me, but his infidelity to his wives is a huge mark in my book. A person who cannot keep a sacred vow to a wife, especially one dying in the hospital–how can people trust him to keep the oath of office?

    • Yet there are many who would point out that there have been Presidents who kept their sacred vows to their wives and didn’t keep their oath of office – Nixon being an excellent example.

    • It does strike me as odd that he’s running as a Republican with such a “family values” disconnect from the party platform. I can’t quite come up with something similar that a Democrat could do that would offend me in the same way. The first thing that I came up with is a high school dropout . . . but just because we support education, not being educated isn’t quite so much of a reputation of the Dem ideals as what Gingrich has done.

      I have absolutely no idea . . . maybe a candidate who had shot someone on his property with what was later found to me an illegal weapon? That would seriously tick me off, and I would probably seriously reconsider a candidate that had done that.

      A candidate that had violated those kinds of weapon laws and was corrupt? No way I would vote for that candidate, no matter how well I thought he or she could do against a Republican candidate in a general election.

  12. Gingrich (a man not only of many — well, several, anyway wives) is also a man of many ideas. Such as colonizing the moon. As he has work to do in terms of achieving consistency in terms of professed values, I think he could start here. In fact, I will contribute $1 (one American dollar) to send Newt Gingrich to the moon. This is not impossible. Americans have already walked on the moon. If enough other people join me in contributing, 1) this could be done by free enterprise; 2) quite a bit of people could be put to work; 3) despite his weight problem, Gingrich could indeed fly to the moon, if not indeed, over it.

  13. I’ve struggled with this as well. While I do think there are differences between Clinton and Gingrich – Clinton had a history of using his power for sexual favors from those who reported to him, at least in Monica Lewinsky’s case, and alledgedly in several others. That’s particularly bad because it’s breaking both a private and a public trust. But I have real problems supporting a serial adulterer. As someone else said, if you can’t keep your most sacred vow . . .

    On the other hand, if Gingrich has truly repented and asked forgiveness, the issue can be left in the past. But who knows?

    Another problem I have with Gingrich is that he claims the conservative mantle, but I think deep down he’s just another statist, espousing Government solutions to everything.

    I’ve long thought that if he wins the nomination, it will be a disaster. But I don’t think he will win.

    My guess is Romney will be the candidate. On the plus side, he’s a decent man by all accounts and he has actually run a business and understand economics. Goodness knows we need that. But he’s also a statist. My guess is that Obama will win re-election in a tight race.

  14. If you’re talking about the primary, then there are good candidates to vote for. Gingrich is one of those. His infidelities are part of his past, and he has reformed himself since then, seemingly under the influence of his Catholic wife. As a Southern Baptist he was a philanderer; as a Catholic he has been a faithful husband.
    I didn’t vote in those primaries, but I understand the reservations people have about all of the candidates. Paul is crazy on foreign policy (and returning to the gold standard? Impossible.); Romney suffers from convenient flip-flops; Santorum is awkward, possibly extreme; and Gingrich is abrasive.

    All of them are decent, if not great, candidates. None are perfect. All are better than Obama.

    Which means that whichever one gets the nomination gets my vote.

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