Just when I think I can no longer be shocked by politicians' behavior, this comes along. It's not the fact that Newt Gingrich's ex-wife claims he wanted an open marriage that I find so shocking. Not at all. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't.
The issue that has me spitting mad is the fact that Gingrich had the audacity to say that the moderator bringing up the open marriage question at the GOP debate was the most despicable thing he could imagine. The most despicable thing:
Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.
As close to despicable as anything he can imagine? Seriously?
What's impossible for me to imagine is that someone with his personal background could say that with a straight face. Compared to his behavior, it doesn't even rate on the despicability charts. Want a few examples?
How about his marital history, which, according to a variety of sources, is reported to go a little something like this.
Gingrich's first wife, Jackie Battley, was his geometry teacher. They met when he was sixteen and she was twenty-five. He later served her with divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer.
He left Battley for Marianne Ginther, his second wife, who he was having an affair with while still married to his first wife.
By 1999, their marriage was over after Ginther had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At that point he was already having an affair with Callista Bisek, twenty-three years his junior, who then became his third wife.
Noticing a pattern here?
Meanwhile, Gringrich, of course, had already condemned former President Clinton's infidelities with Monica Lewinsky, in grand, public fashion. Cheating and condemning. Where did he find the time?
Oh, yes, and he had affairs with other women during his 1974 and 1976 congressional campaign failures, including with Anne Manning, who is quoted as saying they had oral sex, because, she explained, Gingrich wanted to be able to say, 'I never slept with her.'
And how does he explain all of this in light of his moralizing and family value extolling? By blaming it on "how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate." Hmmmh. He loves America so much he had to cheat on two wives and leave them when they were medically compromised. And none of it was his doing. "Things happened." Nice.
And now, it turns out, he apparently requested an open marriage with Ginther, saying, according to Ginther, "You want me all to yourself. Callista doesn't care what I do."
But Newt Gingrich doesn't want an open marriage. He wants to have affairs while still riding high on his mighty morality steed. "Morals for all," I can hear him shouting from the saddle. "But none for me, thank you."
Asking his wife to allow him to do whatever he wants in exchange for the privilege of him not leaving her is not asking for an open marriage. In fact, it gives open marriage a bad name. That's asking for her to turn a blind eye. And I guarantee he would still have gone on and on about the sanctity of marriage all the while.
By the way, just out of curiosity, do you think he was open to her having other sexual relationships?
And surely they weren't going to go public about all of this, right? Not a chance. You can be sure he was still going to live in cognitive dissonance land with his wife by his side and his mistress on his side and all of his blinded by the BS constituents taking his side.
Newt Gingrich wasn't asking for an open marriage. Anyone who cheats on his wife and then tells her he wants either an open marriage or a divorce is not looking for a open marriage. They're being selfish and shortsighted. Open marriage is not about ultimatums or fixing broken relationships.
Open marriage is about honesty and communication and mature, consenting adults choosing non-monogamy. Open marriage is about enhancing a relationship not reviving it. Open marriage is about people who love each other and want to be together.
I believe Newt Gingrich when he says he didn't want an open marriage. He didn't. He wanted a cover story, a beard. That way, he could do as he likes and still pretend to be the guy he thinks he should be or that he wants to be or that he has fooled his supporters into believing he is. But he isn't and never will be.
It's sad really. The guy is hurting a lot of people, his ex-wives, his daughters, his constituents, the LGBT community, himself. He's doing a lot of lying and leaving a lot of injured parties in his wake. He's deceitful and duplicitous and dangerous.
And that is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.