GINGRICH KEEPS INVITING TROUBLE…. Newt Gingrich’s aggressive criticism yesterday of President Obama’s handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was so ridiculous, it’s tempting to think Tulane may ask for its PhD back. The more the former House Speaker popped off, the more his attacks drew scrutiny, and the more Gingrich’s comments were exposed as absurd.

This may seem hard to believe, but Gingrich is on even weaker ground discussing issues related to families.

Somehow or other the conservative movement has gotten so intellectually bankrupt that the lunatics running the asylum think that Newt Gingrich is an intelligent and canny man. Consequently, he’s snagged himself a situation where he’s in the news constantly offering apercus like “The Democratic Party has been the active instrument of breaking down traditional marriage.”

Ah, yes, Newt Gingrich and the breakdown of traditional marriage. It’s an issue he knows very well.

[T]he most notorious of them all is undoubtedly Gingrich, who ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, “Let Our Family Represent Your Family.” (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair’s Gail Sheehy: “We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, ‘I never slept with her.’” Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while in the hospital, as she recovered from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.

Please, Newt, tell us again about how important it is for Republican leaders like you to protect traditional marriage.

Expertise like this is so hard to find.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.