Mr. Gingrich is absolutely beside himself these days. You can just see it in his face and eyes in every TV interview. I predicted a couple of days ago that he will fall back into character before the caucuses tomorrow and lose his temper. I think it is right at the surface.
One would think that his scoring the endorsement of the founder and chairman of The American Family Association, the Reverend Donald Wildmon, would find Gingrich ecstatic! Come on! Rick Santorum did not get that endorsement. And obviously Wildmon did not think of the obvious example of family values: Governor Romney (and we are to believe that?). Mr. Gingrich should be shouting this endorsement from the rooftops, right? Why is he not?
Following is a guest editorial by Greg Stapley, a business executive from Orange County, California. This piece is outstanding as he argues why Gingrich’s past should trouble all conservatives, not just Christians:
In an interview with Newsmax that was reported on Friday, the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon urged Christian voters in Iowa to vote for Newt Gingrich. His rationale for this urgent plea? Wildmon said that other candidates in the race, including Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann, are all “good people,” but a vote for any of them will “divide the conservative vote” and ensure Mitt Romney’s victory.
Wildmon, scion of the American Family Association and other conservative organizations, has been on the political scene since the early 1960’s, fighting for traditional values. He carries some well-earned weight with traditionalists. This time, however, he has tossed out a real head-scratcher.
In a surprising leap of both logic and faith, Wildmon asserted that Gingrich “is the only candidate who can wrest the White House back from President Barack Obama.” He said this while simultaneously dismissing Newt’s much-publicized personal and marital issues.
According to Newsmax, Rev. Wildmon acknowledged that everybody has faults, adding, “I don’t think Jesus is running in this election. But I think [Gingrich] has had enough change in his personal life” for his past to be overlooked by Christian conservatives.
I couldn’t agree more. I for one am sincerely willing to forego judgment and to take Newt and his moral rebirth at face value – when he’s in church, or on a speaking tour, or even at the dinner table (yes, I like Newt and I would invite him into my home). But here’s why we can’t look past his past when he’s in the electoral arena: you can’t lose sight of the end game.
I know we conservatives don’t like the pragmatic side of politics much, but there is a blatant double standard in American politics that has little to do with principles (conservative or otherwise), and everything to do with real and perceived hypocrisy. It goes like this: in the liberal playbook, Republicans and conservatives are “supposed” to be moral, ethical, upstanding people, so anything they do that fails to meet these standards is hypocritical, and proof positive that they cannot be trusted by the masses.
On the other hand, most Dems and libs, regardless of their actual religiosity or morals – which I do not question here – do not openly claim to exemplify these values (in fact it would be politically incorrect for them to do so), so they assert that there is no overt expectation for them to live up to. Consequently, when they make similar mistakes they largely get a pass from the broader electorate, especially moderates, centrists and apoliticals, not to mention the Media.
The Left will argue vehemently that no such double standard exists, but it has happened this way over and over. Just ask Barney Frank’s boyfriend or Bill Clinton’s mistresses, for starters.
So, here’s the conundrum for conservatives who like what they currently hear Newt saying, and for folks like Dr. Wildmon who would like to accept his change of heart (as we all would): If Newt is the nominee, his personal past will be made into a HUGE issue by the Obama bunch, and it will inevitably become a major distraction from the real issues.
It’s not whether the Left’s political operatives care or don’t care about the “sin” itself. But for them repentance and redemption are immaterial – and actually politically inconvenient – in dealing with a political opponent. So they’ll not have the same inclination to be forgiving that Newt’s partisans do – quite the opposite, in fact.
They will use Newt’s newfound morality against him, comparing his serial infidelity to Obama’s record as a faithful husband and loving father, and they will claim the moral high ground – a weird twist because that is a position that they usually cede and that conservatives should, accordingly, dominate. In an election where Obama should be starting in a deep, dark hole called the Economy and Unemployment, his campaign will successfully argue that those issues should be overshadowed, not by the dreadfulness of Newt’s particular sins, but rather by his serial “hypocrisies” and resulting untrustworthiness.
Can we really afford to give away the high ground, and allow the Left to shift the battle to the field of their choosing? They would love to have anything to talk about besides Obama’s abysmal political and leadership record, and they will take full advantage of Newt’s abysmal personal and moral record to do so. And rest assured that his reformation won’t be mentioned by the Obama camp, nor will it matter much to independents, centrists and swing voters, who conservative primary voters would ignore at conservatism’s peril.
For conservatives, Newt is saying some good things at the moment, as he should. Like all of the candidates, he would certainly make a far better president than the White House’s current Occupant-in-Chief. I for one hope that some of his better ideas will become solid planks in the Republican Platform come convention time.
But if you want a general election that’s about Obama’s weaknesses and the Republican nominee’s strengths, you have to go with the guy who has the business background to address the economy and unemployment, who does not suffer from the burdensome baggage of a moral and marital fidelity disadvantage vs. Obama, and who can keep the spotlight firmly focused on Obama’s failures, rather than his own. And that happens to be the one guy that Rev. Wildmon is apparently still struggling to get comfortable with.
With the Iowa caucuses just a day away, Rev. Wildmon is running out of time to figure this one out. He concluded the Newsmax interview by opining that he “just [doesn’t] think that [Romney] can be trusted to really care about, and protect and defend the family and religious freedom that we have in this country.”
Others have eloquently articulated the reasons why Romney is the more reliable conservative candidate, just as others have easily and as eloquently shredded Newt’s claims to a conservative record. Those arguments need not be reiterated here.
What does need to be repeated is a reminder that the Obama machine will not treat the eventual nominee with the respect and forgiveness that Rev. Wildmon wishes could be accorded to Newt in the primaries.
What does need to be repeated is that this election will be far too tight, and is far too critical, to gamble on a candidate who is not Obama’s superior in EVERY category.
Repentant or not, Newt’s not that guy. Wildmon could have picked Perry, Bachmann or Santorum – any of the other “good people” – if he wanted an anti-Mitt. But choosing Newt is downright baffling, especially for someone who holds himself out as being politically astute.
So I must conclude that something else is going through Wildmon’s mind in pleading for Newt’s flagging candidacy, as his man slips to a now-distant 4th place in Iowa polling. I do not presume to know his exact thoughts, but with due respect he is certainly not thinking about winning the general election, which is where we should all remain firmly focused from now until next November.
– Greg Stapley
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” — C. S. Lewis