Saying no to Newt, and yes to Mitt

Some of my current friends may not know this, but I voted Democrat through much of my 20s. Having initially been swept up by the independent furor of Ross Perot, I more or less settled into an idealist “stay the course” phase wherein the policies and practices and appeal of the Democrats were OK with me. This was from about 1994 through 2000, with Gore being the last Democratic candidate for President to receive my vote. And I remember being more than a bit sore by the Florida results in that year, too. Anyway, the Clinton years seemed to be progressing fairly, the economy was OK, and I was surrounded (in Washington State) by other Democrats. It was easy to go along, in order to get along.

One of the things that helped change this, however, was when Bill Clinton cheated on Hillary. As much as 9/11 made me re-think my assumptions, Bill’s infidelity did too. And not so much because I think Bill is a horrible person — I think he was very wrong to do what he did, and he’s lucky Hillary didn’t destroy him politically and financially — but because I greatly disliked how the Democratic party and the press seemed very much to want for it to not matter that the President of the United States had just been caught — red handed! — cheating on his wife.

I thought then, “Are we really this cynical, that we’ll excuse and permit this? Screw the stupid impeachment, the chief public official of the country has just been revealed to be a liar and a wife-cheater, and this is who represents us to the world?” I didn’t care that people said Bill (and Hillary) were free to resolve the problem in their own way, and it was nobody’s business. I think marriage has been trampled enough by rampant cheating and divorce in the last 100 years, without us having a damned President who gets caught. I don’t ask much of my elected officials, but I do ask this: in the affairs of your home and with your spouse, be true, above all else.

Barack Obama, though I believe him to be informed by wrong-headed ideas about economics and the role of government, has his family going for him. So far as I know he loves Michelle and he loves his daughters and he has never soiled that marriage — that sacred obligation — by putting his little brains (testicles) in charge of his big brain. I choose to not support Obama because I believe his ideas on economics and the role of government to be unsound, but if my only choice other than Obama is… Newt Gingrich??

Uhhhhh…. no. That’s really all I have to say about it. Just, no. Part of me never stopped being an independent. Part of me never stopped loving being able to disengage from the “team sport” of Democrats vs. Republicans long enough to make my own, individual moral or ethical decisions about a thing. I never felt obliged to support Democrats at all costs, for “the team” as it were, and I feel no compulsion to support Republicans “for the team” even though I think 4 more years with Obama would only further exacerbate the economic crisis and the swollen problem of government with too much debt and deficit about it.

Because, as I said before, the President is our representative to the world. I think that matters. I want that man in that office to be someone I can be proud of, even if he may not agree with me on certain issues. Obama, at least, before the world, is a family man. He is not a wife-cheater. His daughters — hopefully — will never have to watch their father disgrace the family, the way Bill Clinton disgraced his. No child should have to face the public humiliation nor the private questions, the private shame, the private betrayals, of an unfaithful father and husband. In this, I applaud Barack and I hope very much that his marriage to Michelle is long-lived, that his daughters will grow up and know that Daddy was always true, and in this way — at least — I can take comfort knowing that the Chief Executive properly represents (for me) what America ought to be all about.

Newt Gingrich…. Newt Gingrich represents to me much of what’s wrong with our society. I am told over and over that Newt’s the only one with the intellectual fireworks to “excite the base” and motivate the Republican electorate against Obama in November. I am also told over and over again that none of the candidates are perfect, they all have flaws, and that we shouldn’t judge Newt based on past mistakes. Cast not the first stone, etc, etc.

Well, frankly, I agree, it’s not for us to cast the first stone… where Newt’s personal affairs are concerned. But when you run for President, your entire life is up for display. Every choice you ever made, fairly or unfairly. Because you are being proffered to the world as “America’s Man” and when it comes to picking America’s Man I gosh damned jolly well want someone in that chair who is faithful to his wife and honors her and has not made a further mockery of marriage by using it and abusing it to his own ends.

Say what you want about Romney the “flip flopper” or Ron Paul “the weirdo” or Rick Santorum “the homophobe,” all three of these men — to my knowledge — are not cheaters with their spouses. Where Romney and Santorum specifically are concerned, I know they’ve actually gone out of their way to demonstrate total and absolute marital fidelity.

And I think that counts. For me, at least, that counts big. Newt may have reformed and maybe he regrets his past choices, but the record is what it is, and I cannot as a social conservative cast a vote for Gingrich and not feel like I am committing hypocrisy when I do it.

Plus, Newt wasn’t scoring any points with me during his rather savage attacks on Romney — anti-business and anti-wealth attacks, they were — designed to pander to the anti-capitalist sentiment which is already being pandered to by Democrats who want to re-engineer our economics and our social structure, to fit their own theories. That alone would have made me very, very, very hesitant to support Newt if he were to become the Republican nominee.

But Newt’s record of cheating on his wife seals it. I cannot support the man. Not in his bid for Presidential office. I will sooner do what I did in 2008 — I will write in MITT ROMNEY for President, and CONDI RICE for Vice President. A throw-away vote, I know. But being forced to choose between Obama and Gingrich is not a choice I am willing to make. Newt is so contra to my own ethics and my own beliefs, and appears to be so willing to pander to populist messages — thump the reporters good, Newt, yeah! — that I fear he’d be an even more flip-floppy President than even Romney is often accused of being. And Obama’s policies make him a non-starter too, so rather than hold my nose, I will simply elect to follow my conscience and tilt at the proverbial windmill. I want Romney, or barring that, I could possibly consider Santorum, or maybe even Paul, as a distant third option. But I absolutely will not consider Newt. Better that the country endure 4 years of Obama than we have a Newt Gingrich Presidency. I foresee all kinds of problems if Newt is the one, and I will never be able to tell myself I am a serious social conservative if I pretend Newt’s marriage-trashing is somehow OK with me, just to go along for the ride in November.

I would hope that, as the year goes on, Newt does what he always does — takes his leads and his popularity, and squanders them by saying and demonstrating his loose-cannon approach to politicking. Once the roar of the crowds have died down — stick it to the press, Newt! — people will realize that it takes more to be President than just bashing the press, whom most conservatives already distrust or outright loathe. That’s preaching to the choir.

What we need is a leader who can work in ‘hostile territory’ with budget problems, and government largesse, who can rein them in, and do it by winning enough opposing minds to his cause to secure the legislation, and thereby turning the United States away from its path of ever-expanding Federal power, ever-expanding Federal debt, and ever-expanding Federal deficits.

Mitt Romney is the only one in the race who has demonstrated — for me — that he has any clue how to do this. And he’s been his wife’s faithful and adoring companion for the entirety of their adult lives. Mitt represents, to me, the potential for both economic sanity in the White House and a proper, dignified representation of the United States to the world. That we are not a nation of wife-cheaters, despite what statistics may say. That we do in fact honor and value the commitments men and women make when they promise to love and bond with one another.

The cynical mind may mock and scorn such idealism on my part. I care not. Past a certain point I have to just hork and spit on cynicism — and peddlers of cynical philosophy — because cynicism is a hopeless and sorrowful paradigm wherein all is suspect and all is hopeless and shame on anyone who dares to believe in anything greater or more noble than the grubby little inconsistencies and petty evils of the world. In fact, I’d argue the abject cynic is the real coward, because the abject cynic never has to commit — never has to lay his or her money on the table and take a stand. The cynic gets to hide behind snark and jokes and eye-rolling, trust-nobody-because-all-is-vain emptiness.

No, I will say no to cynicism as readily as I say no to “going along to get along” just to demonstrate sufficient allegiance to a mere political party. I support Mitt not because he’s Republican, not even because he’s LDS, but because I think he’s got the best experience and the best record for the current job, as required by the straits of our predicament, and he is also a devoted and faithful family man — just like Obama — so that he need not stand on the world stage with a sign that says WIFE CHEATING HYPOCRITE emblazoned over him.

I’ve been married to my wife Annie for over 18 years. Those have been the best — and often the toughest — years of my life. Staying married and faithful to the same person, through thick and thin, takes works and effort and being willing to set aside your own selfish desires and needs and commit to making things work even when your own ego or your own lusts may want to take you in a different direction. It’s precisely because I value my marriage that I am such a staunch critic of rampant divorce and rampant cheating on spouses, and why I cannot let this one issue — apparently, my “single issue” in the vernacular of our political process — pass without serious and ultimate considering.

Newt fails. Mitt wins. Enough said by me.


11 thoughts on “Saying no to Newt, and yes to Mitt

  1. You know, I’ve been married for 16 years and we have three children. It’s not been the easiest thing. However, I don’t feel it would qualify me to balance a budget, make life-in-the-balance deals with other countries, solve health financing problems or the social security debacle. I disagree that image is all that important. In the pantheon of countries, our world views are very disparate.

    Historically, our example has been shameful to many other than us. We revolted because we were greedy, and that greed has been at the forefront ever since. Andrew Jackson was faithful to his wife, even vengeful when she was called a prostitute–honestly–by John Quincy Adams’s camp. Jackson defended her with the verve of a passionate husband until the day she died. He used the presidency to exact a personal vendetta, including the unconstitutional vetoing the charter of the Second Bank of the United States, and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 (what would become the genocidal Trail of Tears). Should he be our country’s face-man? Our countrymen (forefathers?) voted him into office twice.

    George Washington, one of our most esteemed presidents, routinely ripped out slaves’ teeth to make dentures for himself.

    Or how about the great image of Lincoln, who in fact okayed Ewing’s Genereal Order 11, which burnt non-combatants’ homes down, burnt their crops down and confiscated or killed all of their livestock, forcing the residents of three counties to roam homeless, in the winter. Meanwhile, the Union sent misinformation ahead indicating that the refugees were Union sympathizers. The result was innocent women and children dying unnecessarily of exposure, hunger and sickness. There are accounts of mothers watching their children die.

    So, really, infidelity is the deciding factor?

    For me, it’s the ability to do what needs to be done in this country–not their own bedroom–which matters. Part of what’s wrong with this country is that the media is concentrating on who’s diddling who. While the country’s attention is diverted, the senate votes for ANOTHER pay increase (tax free), our freedoms are slowly stolen under the guise of new security laws, our economy is beyond the toilet and we’re still paying outrageous prices for gas.

    I think it’s naivety to even consider a pure or honest politician in ANY form. And as far as images we propagate, we’ve been showing weakness and indecision for a while.

  2. Rich I think maybe you missed half my argument. I stated very clearly that it’s not just image. That Romney wins me over with his experience on economics and working through the legislature of a ‘hostile’ state to bring economic sanity to a broken situation. If Romney’s only credential were his marriage, he’d be unremarkable.

    But Newt’s three marriages and multiple instances of infidelity don’t tell me he’s exactly aligned with my personal values. And if I have to pick between a man who is a faithful husband but has economic ideas I don’t like, and an unfaithful husband who seems to only be telling me what I want to hear when he thinks I want to hear it, I picked, NONE OF THE ABOVE.

    Perhaps I am naive and weak for having it boil down to this. If Gingrich had not attacked Romney for the sin of being a successful businessman — that’s an attack from the anti-business playbook, and I did not buy it for a moment, and in fact was very put off by it — I might be less inclined to be harsh with him on his infidelities. But taken as a whole package, I can’t see much in Newt that redeems him. For me. Others will disagree, and I will try not to fault them for their disagreement too much.

    As to judging the Presidents of history by our modern standards, almost all of them fail. Because our modern standards are just that: they are part of our era, and they inform the people of our time, not people who lived 200 years ago. So I am not convinced that because Presidents past were racist or sexist or other bad things, that this means I shouldn’t expect the current candidate(s) to embrace things I consider good. I do not like being forced to pick between the lesser of two evils, and if it comes right down to it, for my own conscience, I will elect to perform a write-in vote. Meaningless as that may seem to some. It does mean something to me. There is nothing in the Constitution that says I have to like the (R) or the (D) thrown at me every four years.

    As in 1992 when I voted Perot, sometimes I want another option.

  3. You know, I’ve mostly ignored this race, because I knew that whoever the Republicans nominated I wasn’t going to care for them, and pretty much whoever they nominated, in the end, I’ll end up voting for them regardless. But the simple fact is that none of the candidates are capable of beating Obama, which is sad, because on his record, Obama should be very, very weak. And that weakness may, in fact, cause him to lose, but it is his to lose. He has to beat himself, none of our candidates will do anything other than win a victory by default.

    Having come to this conclusion, my choice is to have the most conservative, most small government candidate possible. You can make an argument on who that should be, but in no case can you say that that person is Romney. In fact, it’s pretty plausible to say that Romney comes in fourth out of four on both criteria.

    As a moderate, your choices are different. And if your guy wins, I’ll vote for him, reluctantly. But I’m not going to start supporting him til I have to.

  4. Just to be clear, I’m not defending, condoning, or voting for Gingrich. I just thought a vote hinging on infidelity was silly. I do feel–especially when you call yourself “old fashioned”–that historically, the presidents who are remembered well were far worse than the “Leave it to Beaver” image you seemed to been implying our president should have. The things that matter to me are 1) He’s competent (tried and true would be nice, but I’ll settle for skilled); 2) He’s bold. He means what he says and says what he means–doesn’t wait for what other countries’ opinions before making his decision. (Obama’s election seemed to have been sponsored by the UK and many hotbed countries); 3) He focuses on the tasks at hand, and not either party’s policies or his own popularity.

    For what it’s worth, we agree totally on one facet: “I want another option.”

  5. When I read posts like this, I wonder how many people think we have always been at war with Eastasia.

    I mean, really, am I the only one who remembers the huge public controversy about whether Clinton was fit to lead after cheating on Hillary (multiple times, let’s not forget) and huge arguments on “the left” about whether he should step down, whether it was a symptom of a rotten character, whether it meant that he was a sexual harasser, and on and on until every woman in America named “Monica” wanted to go into hiding? If that’s a free pass, no thanks.

    It amuses me that when Gingrich tried the populist tack of pointing out that Romney fired a lot of people, the real Shadowy Masters rose up and smacked him. You can race-bait, you can attack Mormons, you can do whatever else you want to win, Newt, but don’t you dare suggest that firing people could ever be a bad thing. Business is business, and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies, you know!

  6. I’m not sure “saying whatever damn fool idea pops into his swollen head” counts as “bold”, but okay.

    Where I agree with Brad on this is that it’s not simply infidelity; Gingrich’s infidelity is just the biggest sign of his rotten personal character. This isn’t ‘oh, he slept around once when he was younger and dumber but he’s gotten better’.

  7. Yes Yes Yes!

    I completely agree with this post. I am so worried that, somehow, Newt will get the nomination because there are so many (namely ultra-conservatives and Evangelists) who will take ANYONE but Romney, despite his being the best for the job. The biggest anti-Romney excuse I get it, “He’s too moderate.” Um, don’t you think someone in the middle would be best for the country? You know, that whole balance thing?

    Newt is smart, yes, but he’s the prime example of a corrupt politician. I agree that Obama shouldn’t get a second term because his economics are less than spectacular (I think I’ll have a hernia if they raise the debt sealing again), but at least he’s a moral man. If Newt gets the republican ticket–and if he somehow becomes the next president–I think I’ll lose some of the faith I have for my fellow Americans. Newt? Really? He’s a flavor of the day that more people keep buying and I just don’t get it.

    Side note: All of the recent politics have really had me considering a switch to Independent. I think we need to learn to start voting for the person and not the party. America would be a lot better off, that way.

  8. Charlie, I’ve felt strongly since I was 18 that if more Americans were truly “Independent” and spent less time being “party line” that we’d get a better government, as a dividend. Unfortunately, we seem locked into our two-party system and precious little can be done about it. Perot was the last serious threat, and his incursion merely ensured that Clinton won, so the lesson people who didn’t like the Clinton presidency took from it was: do not jump for the indie man, the other side will win! I think this was also true — at a smaller scale — with the 2000 election; which many liberals blame on Nader.

    Still, I have a dream where the Republicans and Democrats fragment so badly, people have other options. It would be an interesting scenario, to be sure.

    Meanwhile, I hold hope that Newt is not the one for this election. He is bombastic and talks a good show, but in the end I just don’t think there are enough wild-n-crazy types to pull the lever for him, whether it’s the primaries or the general election. I think Florida may determine a lot. Both Mitt and Newt are doubtless seeing Florida as a must-win.

    Go Mitt! Go!

  9. I have very mixed feelings about Romney. On the one hand, he’s smart, he’s not a wingnut, he values public service, and I’m pleased to see all the evangelicals running in circles because he’s not the “right” type of Christian. (Mormon is the new Catholic, eh, guys?) On the other hand, every time he opens his mouth I have this vague urge that I should be marching in a picket line singing “Bread and Roses”. It’s like he’s been possessed by the evil undead spirit of Marie Antoinette.

  10. Mythago, I think you’re not alone in that Romney’s family wealth may prove unpalatable — that his “American royalty” status may be too un-American for people to accept. Just the same, Romney also poses an interesting gambit: do the Republican eschew the approval of the evangelical Right, in the hope that a sensible-sounding and business-experienced moderate Republican — who has tacked further to the Right in recent years — will prove attractive enough to moderates and independents (and a few Blue Dogs too) that the gains offset the losses. For my money, it’s worth it to press the evangelical crowd to put their money where their mouths are. Mitt’s certainly a better representative of “traditional Christian values” than Newt Gingrich. JMHO.

  11. Brad, the thing is that Romney isn’t “American royalty” as, say, the Bush clan has been. Romney doesn’t fit into the meme of the Rich Dynasty. He fits into the meme of the Rich Capitalist. You keep expecting the man to say “Are there no workhouses?”

    But totally agree with you re Newt. When your wife spent six years as your mistress before you divorced your then-wife to marry her, I don’t think that blaring about how you’re both “devout Catholics” cuts the mustard.

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