Why the Infidelities of Republican Candidates like Newt Gingrich Should Matter

by on September 29th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | As a Democrat who supported former President Bill Clinton during the impeachment proceedings brought against him during the 1990s, it’s been my stated opinion for years that politicians’ and political candidates’ marital fidelity should be no one’s business other than their spouses.

Unless, of course, their infidelity clashes with their stated political views, as is so often the case with Republicans. When that happens, the issue becomes something far more than just the infidelity itself. For if a person is capable of railing about moral values in public in order to get elected, while personally violating those same values in private, it shows a disdain for those electing him or her I’m just not comfortable with.

That’s why the numerous infidelities of Newt Gingrich make me believe he’s unfit to serve as President. While I don’t care how many extramarital affairs he’s had, I do care that they paint him a hypocrite. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way, either, which is why I think Gingrich has found it so difficult to shake the stink from this 1984 story by David Osborne in Mother Jones.

In that article – which Gingrich vehemently denies is factual – Osborne discusses an incident where Gingrich allegedly asked his wife for a divorce while she was recovering from surgery to remove a benign tumor. Gingrich has denied he ever did, and his daughter (a conservative columnist) has backed up that claim.

Yet Newt’s former press secretary, Lee Howell, as well as Gingrich’s former wife, Jackie Battley, give a different account, and I’m inclined to believe theirs. (Paul Farhi, Washington Post)

Combined with his many extramarital affairs, including one while he led the charge to impeach Clinton for having an affair and allegedly lying about it, I simply believe Gingrich has shown an inability to live up to – in any way, shape, or form – the morals standards he claims he champions. To me, that’s enough to disqualify him for any public office, especially the presidency. Not surprisingly, though, the polls show Republicans disagree with me.

However, another candidate, Herman Cain, saw his White House ambitions come to an end this past weekend over allegations of extramarital affairs. When Ginger White came forward with her story of a 13-year sexual relationship with Cain, it all but sunk his chances for the presidency overnight. Yet, Cain’s problems weren’t just about infidelity, but something far worse. There were numerous women who’d come forward over the past month to claim Cain had sexually harassed them.

While Gingrich has shown he’s a hypocrite when it comes to the moral stance he claims to take for his Republican voters, I’ll grant he at least hasn’t been accused of violating women the way Cain has been.

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*Daniel Barber is a freelance sportswriter for the Yahoo! Contributor Network who is also a political junkie.


Mother Jones


Farhi, Paul. (2011). Aspects of Gingrich Divorce Story Distorted. Washington Post.

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