Nel's New Day

April 29, 2012

Farewell to Gingrich?

Newt Gingrich is almost gone from the current political scene although he hasn’t declared himself officially there—just officially maybe if etc. No matter what, he deserves a sendoff. This is the man that the GOP hates, who liked Citizens United until another Republican had a bigger super PAC, who thought that he could arrest judges for doing their job, and who decided that Fox was biased in favor of Mitt Romney—when Fox was supporting Rick Santorum. But there’s lots more about him.

As a child, Gingrich was seriously abused by his stepfather, a Marine officer. As a teenager, Gingrich loved zoos and dinosaurs, wanting an academic career. In his twenties, Gingrich grew his hair long, having a yen for the counter-culture of the 60s. By his thirties, having successfully dodged the draft with student and family deferments, he ran for the House of Representatives in an Atlanta (GA) suburb. After he lost, his campaign scheduler said, “We would have won if we could have kept him out of the office and screwing [a young campaign staffer] on his desk.” At this time Gingrich was with his high school geometry teacher, Jackie Battley, who he married when he was nineteen years old.

Politics and his wife didn’t mix. While Jackie Gingrich was still in the hospital recovering from her third cancer surgery, Gingrich “argued” with her over the terms of the divorce that he wanted and she didn’t. He had told one of his aides, “She isn’t young enough or pretty enough to be the President’s wife. And besides, she has cancer.” Another reason was his affair with Marianne, who became his second wife and was discarded after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Because Gingrich refused to pay alimony or offer child support for his two children, Jackie’s church took up a collection for her. Gingrich has said that when he read a book called Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, he “found frightening pieces that related to my own life.”

Finally getting elected to the House of Representatives in 1978, Gingrich used the Republican whip, Dick Cheney, to rise in the ranks. Gingrich’s staff started a whisper campaign falsely accusing Speaker of the House Tom Foley, a Democrat, of being a closet homosexual and created another manufactured scandal about some House members’ supposed abuse of their credit union. Gingrich used these bodies for his advancement.

After George H. W. Bush appointed Cheney as secretary of defense, Gingrich took over as the House whip. Bill Clinton’s reelection dropped Gringrich’s national approval rating to 28 percent, leading him to push for Clinton’s impeachment. At the same time, Gingrich was having an affair with Callista Bisek, one of his staffers who is twenty-three years younger than Gingrich. Little did he know that Tom DeLay was leading a group of 20 Republicans working to oust Gingrich. The coup failed when Dick Armey told Gingrich about it after he found out that the plan didn’t include his succeeding Gingrich.

James Dobson gave up on the Republicans’ trying to get rid of Gingrich and took over the task himself by mobilizing the Christian Right. In 1998 Dobson gave a speech to the Council for National Policy, a secret group that brings together right-wing activists with wealthy conservatives to shape political strategy.

“Does the Republican Party want our votes—no strings attached—to court us every two years, and then to say, ‘Don’t call me. I’ll call you?’ And not to care about the moral law of the universe? Is that what they want? Is that what the plan is? Is that the way the system works? And if so, is it going to stay that way? Is this the way it’s going to be? If it is, I’m gone, and if I go—I’m not trying to threaten anybody because I don’t influence the world—but if I go, I will do everything I can to take as many people with me as possible.”

Dobson continued to threaten House Republicans when he met with 25 of them a month later. After Army confronted Dobson, Dobson persuaded Focus on the Family to tell its members—falsely—that Army was a paid consultant to the ACLU. Despite Gingrich’s and Army’s strategy of impeachment, the House lost five Republican seats—the worst midterm-election in 64 years for a party that did not control the White House. Gingrich resigned and divorced his second wife, again in her hospital room. This time he sent his message by phone.

For years Gingrich wrote op-eds and speeches, even a trilogy of alternative historical novels in which the Confederacy won the Civil War before he returned to the political arena in 2006. In New Hampshire, Gingrich warned that “before we actually lose a city” to a terrorist attack, the government should consider limiting free speech. In his manifesto, Rediscovering God in America, he also declared that the United States is a Christian nation. “There is no attack on American culture more deadly and more historically dishonest than the secular effort to drive God out of America’s public life,” he insisted.

At that time, even the right wing disapproved of Gingrich’s philandering. Jeffrey Kuhner, editor of the right-wing Web magazine Insight, wrote, “Mr. Gingrich views women as little more than sex objects who are discarded like an empty Coke bottle when they fail to satisfy his near-limitless appetite. He is yesterday’s man.”

Gingrich thought he could persuade Dobson to overlook his past peccadilloes. The big mistake was justifying his own actions because “every member of every jury of America has had weaknesses.” Dobson considers himself without spiritual fault. After Dobson’s harsh statements and questions, Gingrich said, “I have turned to God and got on my knees and prayed to God and asked for forgiveness.” Gingrich’s answer satisfied Dobson, especially because he had the impression that he could lift this sinner out of his darkness and depravity. It was Gingrich’s statement that led Jerry Falwell to ask him to give the commencement speech at Liberty University.

Despite the tarnished image of Liberty after one of the students was arrested for confessing his plans to commit mass murder against the notorious Fred Phelps church, a confession that came immediately after Falwell’s unexpected death, Gingrich gave the speech. He gave a call for graduates to confront “the growing culture of radical secularism,” thereby honoring the memory of Falwell. Gingrich’s sins fell away, and he was invited to appear with the other GOP presidential wannabes at the Family Research Council’s annual Value Voters Summit. Gingrich was back.

With Dobson’s anointing, Gingrich has joined the company of serial killer like Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz, forgiven and redeemed by Dobson because they  confessed their evil deeds and professed a commitment to evangelical religion.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German clergyman executed by the Nazis for publicly opposing Hitler and denouncing church leaders who acquiesced to his rule, calls this “cheap grace.” In 1943, he wrote, “Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like a cheapjack’s wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut-rate prices . . . In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin.”

Part of this information came from an abstract of Max Blumenthal’s book, Republican Gomorrah. This blog is just a piece of the iceberg regarding Gingrich’s scandals. You’re welcome to read more—or just wait for him to re-emerge somewhere else.

© blogfactory

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