When Newt Gingrich, the now extremely plausible GOP nominee, stated 'But I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather' during Saturday's Iowa debate when the question of marital fidelity and trust was raised, he did more than just play the victim card. In one quick swoop, Gingrich effectively shot down criticism and the likelihood of extensive potential future questioning of his known sexual improprieties. And in all reality, most major media outlets and pundits will sooner rather than later fail to follow through and hold him accountable for his proven mishaps. Going forward, whenever -- if ever -- the subject is raised, the former Speaker of the House will predictably state something along the lines of 'I've already addressed that' or 'it's overkill, judge me on my record'. Now that the topic of adultery has been beaten to death with Herman Cain, Gingrich will likely get a free pass -- yet again.
While pressing hard to have then President Bill Clinton impeached in the '90s, Gingrich was hypocritically entrenched in his own extramarital affairs. Attempting to justify his behavior by asserting that he cheated on his first wife because of his supposed passion and love for the country, the repeat offender is a confirmed transgressor even by his own admission. From betraying a cancer-stricken wife to being divorced twice, he is far removed from the 'morals' and 'values' that his Party would like to espouse. All of this personal business would be irrelevant perhaps were it not for the fact that infidelity just destroyed the political (and personal for that matter) ambitions of one Herman Cain. The difference between the two? Cain is an African American and Gingrich is not.
Now, let me be emphatically clear, I am in no way supporting, defending or excusing Cain's alleged behavior. What I am emphasizing however is the glaring disparity in how both of these individuals have been presented and treated by the media and by society at large. The very idea that Cain's actions are still only alleged should trouble anyone who believes in due process. Whether or not the former Godfather's Pizza CEO engaged in infidelity isn't even the point, because the fact remains that he was vilified and castigated almost as soon as the accusations emerged and as a result, eventually suspended his bid for the Presidency. I am no Cain supporter by any means -- far from it - but the notion that a Black man can still be taken down via sexual charges bothers me because we clearly don't see the same imaging and reaction when it comes to good 'ol Gingrich. And now that cheating and marriage have been covered incessantly, the self-proclaimed 68-year-old grandfather is in the clear to continue dismissing the subject despite the fact that his out-of-wedlock actions aren't simply alleged.
So the question remains, who is to blame? Is it a biased press with an inherent pre-disposed notion that Black men are overly sexualized beings incapable of controlling themselves (as has been drilled into the minds of many literally for centuries)? Or is the media to blame for sensationalizing the news to the extent that a very grave subject is no longer 'newsworthy'? Or is it racial biases inherent among many that view people like Gingrich as poor men who made a mistake, while those like Cain are just waiting for an opportunity to prey on women? Maybe it's a combination of all of the above. But the bottom line is, race still matters - even when it comes to the most conservative (and at times hateful themselves) candidates.
If Gingrich is the one who clearly gained the most with Cain's downfall, perhaps the former African American GOP frontrunner needs to look no further than those in his own Party to blame -- just maybe.
Follow Nida Khan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/NidaKhanNY