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.



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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