I Just Can't Do It

Why this lifelong conservative won't be voting for Newt Gingrich

"Boys will be boys, but boys will not be presidents"  -Ronald W. Reagan

Conservatives love Reagan quotes. Any republican candidate worth their flag pin would be remiss not to slip a good Reaganism or two into each day's campaign efforts. They make great sound bites on Fox news. But I suspect this particular Ronnie line won't be written into any of Newt Gingrich's stump speeches.

This obscure little tidbit was not part of any grand speech, but an offhand remark Reagan made in 1984, upon his learning that then-presidential candidate Gary Hart had been caught having an affair. Reagan didn't really exploit this fact in the campaign. He didn't need to. Voters vetted Hart on his own merits and decided that he was better off a historical footnote than leader of the free world. Hart failed to grab the nomination, so he never went head to head with Reagan anyways. Folks who were alive back then can vaguely recall Hart's antics when prompted. Kids today know him as "Gary Who?"

So fast forward 2.5 decades. Today we have a front-runner who has a long history of fidelity issues. OK, so he's had an affair or three. So what? Other than that, he talks a really good game. He surged to the front on a combination of slick statesmanship during the early debates and an enduring lack of enthusiasm for the guy who seems to be the republican heir apparent, Mitt Romney.  Following the implosion of Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann, Gingrich floated to the top, the best of what's left. Those calling themselves "true conservatives" flocked to him, most of them hoping nobody noticed that they were holding their noses while doing so.

Me? I can't do it. I won't do it.

There's a couple reasons why. Some of them don't have anything to do with his infidelity issues. For one, he's a Washington insider. How can anyone with 30 years inside the beltway under his belt promise anything remotely like change? He talks an exceptionally good game when it comes to political rhetoric. Under normal circumstances, most people would call that "BS." Yet here we find ourselves with little in the way of alternatives, so suddenly it's repackaged as something more appealing. Politicians say all sorts of things to get people to vote for them, but people are buying it this time.

That's OK, I guess. But while I can find much that I like about what Gingrich says, and many of his ideas make sense to me, I always come back to his infidelity issues. Why? Why should I care what he does behind closed doors? Those issues are between him and his ex-wife (wives). Why should anyone else care?

That...is a darn good question. It suggests that voters should look the other way when it comes to his personal life. Looking at it like that offers a loophole where an otherwise solid conservative voter can take the thorny moral issue off the table and focus on the issues that really matter. Simple stuff.

Or is it? Fine, I'll spot you the issues between a man and wife are their issues, and theirs alone. But, strictly looking at it as a legal matter, you still have the undeniable fact that he broke his promise to be faithful, and by doing so, breached a legal contract. He lied, cheated and deceived, all in violation to a mutual agreement that was legally binding.

Are you getting that part? He LIED. He CHEATED. He DECEIVED. And he did it more than once. Now he's asking me, you and the entire country to forget about all that and pay attention only to what he's talking about now. He's telling us that we can trust him to stick to the new promises, while forgetting the old broken promises that pockmark his history.

Even if you like what he says, do you trust him to follow through? What is it in his history gives you the idea that he's even capable of doing so?

I've asked myself that question, rolled it over and over in my mind. I really want to believe in Newt. But in the end I have to trust my own spider sense. I don't believe him when he says that this promise is the one he'll finally keep.

That's why I won't vote for him.  Integrety matters to me so I just can't. Can you?

The best thing that can happen to the Republican party is for Newt to fade to the background, become the Hart-like footnote he deserves to be.



Grant January 31, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Newt Gingrich's biggest problem is that he is , in fact, Newt Gingrich..... I'm rapidly becomming convinced that Newt fires off some sort of hypno-ray that makes people forget who Newt Gingrich is. It also seems effective at erasing the things he actually says out loud. Like his stated intent to ignore Supreme Court rulings that he doesnt like and haul the justices before Congress like so many misbehaving school kids. Smaller government does not mean elimination of one of the three branches. The other glaringly obvious thing that Newt's hypno ray seems to wash out of people's minds is that there is NO WAY he can actually win the general election.The far right and left will simply vote for the guy with their preferred letter after his name but there just isnt any way that a "middle ground" guy who might have voted for Obama last time around is going to a head exploding 180 + turn and vote for the amphibian. Glad you're amongst those who cant "Hold Back The Puke & Vote for Newt" Jeff . On this we completely agree..
Alicia Hughes January 31, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Good points Jeff!
Sharon Swanepoel January 31, 2012 at 01:21 PM
It's pot-stirring Tuesday and we have Grant and Jeff on the same page! Has anyone seen the weather report? I'm almost scared to look.
Grant January 31, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I've been told that a guy by the name of Lou Cipher was just seen leaving Dick's Sporting Goods with a down jacket and an armload of fleece..
Gail Lane January 31, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I'm concerned about the impact this agreement might have on Kumbaya Wednesday.
cathy swanson January 31, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Well spoken. My biggest problem is that he is a hypocrite. He was screaming for us to impeach Clinton while he was doing the same thing and he was fined for ethics violations while in office. I'm utterly shocked that anyone would vote for him.
Jason Brooks January 31, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Jason Brooks January 31, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I've never liked Newt. First of all, it's just the name. Not that names are essentially destiny, but can you really take seriously a man named "Newt" who wants to run a nation? Plus, his last name is too perilously close to "Grinch" for my tastes. But I applaud your hitting on the infidelity issue: while what goes on between a man and woman is their business, it's still an indicator of their character. And to be honest, Republicans can't have this one both ways--they impeached Clinton for his dalliances, but now claim Newt's don't matter?
Kris Parker January 31, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I'm concerned about the impact this might have on everything. It is like my entire worldview has been shaken...
Gail Slade January 31, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Goodness you are very uninformed sir...they did NOT impeach Clinton. In fact they somewhat just "let it go" .
Sharon Swanepoel January 31, 2012 at 11:26 PM
It is my understanding that President Bill Clinton was in fact impeached by the House of Representatives, but then acquitted of the charges by the Senate.
Jeffrey Allen January 31, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Clinton was impeached in the house but because the senate did not also vote to impeach, he was never removed from office.
Jason Brooks February 01, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Ms. Gail - as Sharon and Jeff pointed out, the House did impeach President Clinton on a count of perjury (by way of a 228-206 vote) and one count of obstruction of justice (by way of a 221-212 vote). There were two other counts (perjury and abuse of power) that failed to pass. These votes were called for by Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on December 19, 1998. Gingrich resigned as Speaker on January 25, 1999. The Senate voted on the two articles of impeachment on February 12, 1999, with the majority against impeachment on each one.
Robert Bliss February 01, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Cathy, Newt was not fined. He simply had to pay $300,000 for his own defense and was never convicted of any wrong doing. Quit listening to the SuperPAC ads and believing everything you hear or read. Investigate before speaking!
Robert Bliss February 01, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Jason, Who would have ever thought that a nation that recently had been attacked by an exremest Muslim faction would ever elect a person with the name of Barrack or Obama as our President? Get real with the name issues you have and look at the underlying person. Yes Newt has had infidelity issues, but like many previous presidents whom were later identified as being unfaithful while "In" office or previous to being "In" office (FDR, Ike, JFK, Reagan, Clinton), to name a few during my lifetime. By the way, all those presidents I listed will be remembered for what they did to improve our nation than they will be for their infidelities. You may want to spend more time studying the issues and the platforms of our candidates instead of the names they were given by their parents or the sins they have committed. Remember what Jesus taught us when he drew a line in front of the crowd about to stone a woman of immoral character! By the way, the impeachment trial of President Clinton never reached a conviction which says a lot about the Congress that Gingrich was Speaker of the House in at the time of his call for action against the President. I doubt that things in Congress have changed much since which is why we need term limits to rid ourselves of the Corrupt Power Mongers that are imbred in our government.
Robert Bliss February 01, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Sounds like a hung jury!
Jason Brooks February 01, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Robert - good point on the FDR, JFK, Reagan histories. And as an aside, the name thing was a joke, albeit one I didn't frame particularly well. I am in complete agreement on term limits, and wish there were even steeper reforms for what goes on in Washington. But to Jeff's larger point--what underlies all of these issues is the character/morals/ethics/whatever-you-wish-to-call-it of the men and women we send to DC. So how do we go about getting better character in our more powerful elected officials? Or is the system so broken as to attract only those with character deficits?
Gail Lane February 01, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Jason asks how we go about getting better character in our more powerful elected officials. Interesting question. I do know several who serve the citizens admirably and with integrity. Mostly on a local level; but there are some in higher stratospheres of politics that I have great respect for. But just imagine being in a room full of outspoken, opinionated and powerful people all working for THEIR own people, their OWN agendas and their OWN reasons ... all at one time. It's naive to think they will all have the same opinions and agendas at the same time and that even working for the "common good" of just the people in a specific district will undoubtedly anger some majority of a sector which is a minority of the whole. And on top of this, you must raise money and spend money to get elected; put your personal life in the spotlight and your professional life on hold; and grow a thick skin beyond that of a Gila monster. It takes a special kind of someone to maintain a thick skin for the flaming arrows - maybe it takes these kinds of "character deficits." Most of those you might consider "the good guys" just aren't going to do that to their families. No matter how strongly anyone may feel about a cause, it's pretty hard to step up to that level of "do-goodery". Some persevere and hold onto their integrity. To me, it is more a matter of why in the world anyone would even step up to serve in a large capacity?
Jason Brooks February 01, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Gail - yet again, a great comment. I think I oversimplify politicians--something I wrote against in my blog post "Don't Be A Dirtbag". In short, I need to just shut up, listen, and then shut up unless asked my opinion. In fact I read something this morning to that effect: "Wisdom has two parts: having a lot to say and not saying it." I obviously have a ways to go to be wise...
Gail Lane February 01, 2012 at 05:34 PM
No, I don't think shutting up is what's required. We should always hold our leaders to a high standard - whether locally or nationally. Our President represents all of us - not the other way around. So we do have to examine and study what each of us can and cannot abide in a leader and vote accordingly. For some it will be their stance on life; others the deciding factor will be policies on immigration; for others it will be morality first. Not trying to oversimplify it, but it just comes down to the candidate that the most people can find a relationship in - almost as if he were our neighbor - as to how much we will engage in that relationship. That's why these guys go into advertising and information over-load during the primary campaign season. Got to get as much as they can out there as quick as they can so they can address the NEXT big whoo ha that MIGHT show up on the radar next week. In the end, they become almost just products in the midst of a marketing campaign on rocket boostered cheetahs.
Grant February 01, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Newt's WAY too familiar with addressing the next "whoo ha" ..... Yeah, I know that was too easy (like a Gingrich staffer) but someone had to fire that round (comment self edited) I dont think the system is broken . The voters in Florida sent a pretty strong message last night . Newt's ego and the ease at which he shifts blame to others wont let him hear the message at the moment though. One can hope that he will eventually "get it " and realize he could never win and put his efforts behind challenging Obama in the general election.
Gail Lane February 01, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I like to tee them up for ya whenever I can!
Karsten Torch February 02, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Here's what I like about Newt - he may be a Washington insider for the past 30 years, but he's never been inside the Washington groups. He got pushed out because he couldn't be controlled. He did what he thought was right, and all those who had problems with it could go hang. I respect that. He got investigated on, like, what, 147 ethics charges, finally stuck with 1, which wasn't actually one he got convicted of, just had to pay the courts for their time spent, which he did with personal funds, when it would have been perfectly acceptable to use campaign funds, then he was found not guilty of that same charge about 10 years later by the IRS. But nobody wants to mention any of that, because it's easier to demonize him. He's also not as far right as I think he should be, or maybe as I thought he was. He was radical 20 years ago, but the right has moved farther right since then, just like the left has moved farther left, so now some of Newt's ideas are seen as moderate, or even liberal. Again, he does what he feels is right. Thing is, he's really one of the smartest people on this planet, and has no problem articulating his ideas. He just doesn't particularly care is you understand those same ideas, and I think this is his downfall. Nobody's perfect. The last perfect person we had died about 2000 years ago. People cheat. He just did it a lot. Doesn't change the fact that he'd be a good President. IMO.....
Robert Bliss February 02, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Well said Karsten!
Jeffrey Allen February 02, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Karsten, You bring up some valid points that I don't want to diminsh. However, it always boils down to ethics. You're right, he is very smart. He is also a proven lia...even you, a supporter, make the statement "he cheated...a lot" A drunk driver will have gotten behind the wheel about 85 times before he or she is caught once. That's drunk drivers...not exactly the sharpest pencils in the drawer. So if a man with a high intellect like Gingrich gets caught in a lie once or twice, or even "alot", then is it not a reasonable assumption to think maybe he's found a way to not get caught plenty of other times? He's smart. Slick. So was Bill Clintion. So was Richard Nixon. So is President Obama, for that matter. Do we really want another "slick" president? You know what they say about those who fail to learn from history...
Robert Bliss February 02, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Jason, Who do you know that is of perfect character? The fact is, none of us can claim that. One of the worst Presidents of my time was Jimmy Carter. But, admirably, he admitted that he had commited adultry numerous times in his life during a Playboy interview while running for President. Albeit his adultry was in the form of "lust of the heart"! Regardless, he had character issues as we all do. He simply did not act upon them as far as we know! History will tell us more as it did with other Presidents after they had deceased. We are a fickle nation that screams about character more than leadership. Although I did not vote for Bill Clinton, I do consider him to have been a leader that history will look back on as having a overall successful presidency. However his character handwritting was on the wall before being elected. Do we remember Jennifer Flowers? Bill looked at the cameras as he did with the Monica Lewinsky affair and denied it. Newt has never hid his dalliances. He has always been upfront. Then there is the "two sides" issues that need to be considered when a story is being told. Newt has been villified by the press which chooses to tell only one side, of which much is simply hearsay as I suspect, since it is media driven. And what does the public like to read? Just check out the literature on sale at the checkout stands at the grocery and convenience stores. to be continued...
Robert Bliss February 02, 2012 at 03:24 PM
continued from last post... So let's get over the character issues and start paying attention on the facts that this nation is in trouble and needs a president that can lead us out of the Washington insider quagmire that Newt was never a part of as Karsten has pointed out in her post on this thread.
Robert Bliss February 02, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Jeffrey, Why do Presidents and leaders lie? Is it a moral issue they have? Or, is it because "We can't handle the truth!" at all times. We let it get in the way of the better good of a situation that might otherwise get out of control. Not that this is always good in the present, but historically may prove to be the best solution for the time. So, let's not be blind to the assumption that we will be able to elect a president whom is going to be totally on the upfront with us. Lets pay more attention to the issues at hand, that face us in the future, and can be best addressed by the candidates we have to lead us forward. Enough of the "Slick" media garbage and more about what is at stake for us as a nation. Lets look at the history of all candidates and make a self determination of who has the best political history of results in the past and who will have the best chance of making necessary changes in Washington in 2013.
Grant February 02, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Right... Newt has a long standing record of lying, being an hypocrite , extremely questionable ethical and moral issues & refusal to accept responsibility. He has public ally stated that he intends to ignore the judiciary as he pleases and he's a generally loathsome human being. Further there is NO WAY that Newt can win the general election as there is no way for him to claim the middle ground . I would be surprised to find out Obama was donating to Newt's campaign knowing that if by some horrible happenstance Newt were to win the nomination he'll be a cinch to beat in the general
Jeffrey Allen February 02, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Robert, I don't disagree that some things at the presidential level are "need to know" and that you and I won't be privy to all the truths involved. I understand this to be true in matters of National security and the like. But on the matter of fidelity, I think we can all "handle the truth." Nobody really wants another "Slick Willie" situation, now do we? Maybe we can save some time and go ahead and suggest some witty nicknames for the sake of history? I mean, his name calls to mind a slippery salamander! It's like somebody already teed that one up, for posterity's sake. I find it odd that good people, solid conservatives who so recently rejected Herman Cain on a thin suggestion of infidelity now are finding creative ways to actually defend lying and are scrambling to find ways to justify untruthfulness. It's embarrassing. Would folks be so quick to look the other way if it were someone on the opposite end of the political spectrum?


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