By Saul Landau
The world’s people face transcendent issues: climate change (tornadoes, tsunamis, droughts, hurricanes), seemingly endless wars in Asia and Africa, mass uprisings, growing world hunger – and the ever present nuclear (weapons and power) threat.
Given those overwhelming issues one would expect leaders to arise: wise and far-sighted men and women who would articulate and then pose the themes so citizens could respond to proposed remedies.
Examine aspiring Republicans who convened last week in Minnesota to present themselves to Party activists. Newt Gingrich’s staff had just quit his campaign en masse as he sailed off on a cruise of the Greek Islands with his exotic wife – she needed to get away. He responded to her need rather than the nuts and bolts of campaigning, said his staff. He said he needed “to think.”
Newt thought positively of subsidies for farmers who converted food crops into fuel to feed gas tanks instead of people – simultaneously driving up the cost of food – while food shortages emerged and more than one billion people went hungry. Climate change? Nothing urgent there – although Newt doesn’t oppose holding hearings on it.
He thinks we should continue our military presence in Afghanistan until we defeat Muslim extremists. He would, as President, demand a loyalty oath for White House employees like the one used in the old days for Communists. Muslim Americans may need to swear an oath of loyalty to serve in government, he suggested at the mid June Minneapolis Republican debate. Doctors performing abortions merit prosecution. Capital punishment is good. We need more prisons and an end to “soft sentencing.”
Renewing American Leadership, a charity founded by Newt, paid his for-profit company $220,000 over two years, ABC News reported. This non-profit would supposedly provoke conversation about restoring Christian principles in Washington, “and mostly did that through letters seeking donations.” (Elspeth Reeve, The Atlantic Wire, June 15).
As he aspires to the presidency, is Newt’s character relevant?
In 2009, Newt “resolved” that issue by converting to Catholicism. By doing so, he found a forgiving God, so people should not analyze his prior life’s behavior (character). As a Baptist he encountered no lenient Almighty.
Please, he asks, do not recall his adulterous days. He even begged a radio audience on a Dr. James Dobson show to forgive him for cheating on his second wife. Indeed, while enjoying the favors of another woman (not his wife), Newt had ordered Republican leaders to use “family values, not adultery” language to spin the Party’s position on the breaking Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Marianne, Newt’s then wife, at home in his Georgia district, didn’t know of Callista Bisek, 23 years younger than Newt. Before Callista forever won his heart and other parts, Gingrich had only married twice. Marianne, number 2, was developing Multiple Sclerosis. Marianne and her MS had become a drag on Newt’s destiny.
Callista had developed unique spiritual foreplay. While she sang in the National Shrine Choir, Newt waited for her at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The dulcet tones enunciating juicy Bible passages sung by clear soprano voices made him ready for anything – as soon she finished singing.
In August 1999, as Marianne’s MS grew worse, Newt filed for divorce. His first wife had also disappointed him by developing cancer. He handed her divorce papers as she emerged from a post-op coma.
Newt shared his religious hybrid, Christian adultery, with President Clinton. In 1977, Anne Manning in Washington hooked up with the married Gingrich.
“We had oral sex,” Manning explained. “He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, ‘I never slept with her’.” Also, she recalled, Gingrich threatened her: “If you ever tell anybody about this, I’ll say you’re lying.” (Gail Sheehy, Vanity Fair, September 1995),
Gingrich juggled his admitted sexual indiscretions with his role as secular leader of the “family values” circle and regular orator at Christian Coalition meetings, while thinking about becoming President. These tribulations must have appeared to him as if God was testing Job.
Newt, determined to make the third marriage work, opened a $500,000 expense account at Tiffany’s for Callista, while simultaneously nattering righteously and religiously about how he would lead the nation down the road of principles based on ideas.
In 1994, Newt the “idea man” invented the “Republican revolution.” In 1995, as House leader, he swore to eliminate the New Deal and Great Society burdens (that socialistic-minded Democrats had foisted on the innocent American public) and reduce the size of government.
The media reported that Newt wanted to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, etc. “Distortion,” screamed Newt, explaining he didn’t really want to abolish these programs (that would doom Republicans in the next election), but only stem their expansion.
In frustration, Newt the revolutionary cut appropriations for government operation, shutting it down. Clinton and the vast public screamed. After seeing the negative response, Newt meekly agreed to increase big government’s size.
Newt “Mr. Ideas” Gingrich, as presidential aspirant, agrees with most of the Republican candidates. Their platform: “The unborn are innocent and deserve our love. Once born, they get what’s coming to them. Government serves best by removing all services. Owning guns brings eternal happiness and God’s approval. God created billionaires in His image and you better not tax them.”
Saul Landau’s film WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP is distributed by Cinema Libre Studio. He is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow.