FAMILY VALUES…. With disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich having spent quite a bit of time this week in the national media — an oddly frequent occurrence — Jon Chait raises an observation that often goes overlooked.
On the subject of Gingrich, here’s one thing I don’t understand. John Edwards’ philandering has made him a public pariah, understandably so. But Gingrich’s marital behavior was probably even more disgusting. He cheated on his first wife and told her he wanted a divorce while she was recovering from surgery for cancer. He subsequently cheated on his second wife with a much younger aide. It’s fairly amazing how Gingrich has managed to avoid any stigma from this. He’s just a conservative “ideas guy.”
I’d go just a little further, still. Gingrich’s scandalous personal life and admitted adultery was concurrent with Gingrich launching an impeachment crusade against Bill Clinton for … his scandalous personal life and admitted adultery.
Gingrich then proceeded to characterize himself as an ally of the religious right, and started giving tours of Washington’s “Godly heritage.”
In other words, Gingrich’s political work was discredited, his moral standing was discredited, and his scholarship has been discredited. And yet, he remains a go-to guest for major media outlets, and has positioned himself as one of the right’s “big thinkers.”
When we talk about the bankruptcy of conservatism, Gingrich offers a helpful example.