Brad R. Torgersen

Saying no to Newt, and yes to Mitt

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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.

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