Last week Newt Gingrich, the conservative who pilloried Bill Clinton for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky while he was conducting his own extramarital affair, announced he might make a run for the presidency.
The background: Gingrich trumpets “family values” and roundly denounces extramarital sex. For other people, presumably. He left his wife of 19 years while she was battling cancer and remarried a few months later. He divorced the second wife after learning she had multiple sclerosis and married a woman 20 years his junior with whom he’d been having a long-standing adulterous affair.
In an interview yesterday with the Christian Broadcast Network, Gingrich implied that his patriotism was somehow responsible for his infidelities:
There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.
Jeffrey Goldberg takes it from there:
My Love Affair With America
I didn’t want it to happen, of course. No one does. When you take the marriage vows, you take them for life, right? So at first, I suppressed those unwanted feelings. Sure, I noticed her purple mountain majesties as soon as she walked in the room. I mean, who didn’t? Believe me, in a sweater, those purple mountains sure were majestic. And her amber waves of grain? I couldn’t pry my eyes away. So lush and, well, ambery. What was I to do? Maybe it’s because my defenses were down — I was working so hard at the time — that my mind soon wandered to her fruited plains. Bad, bad thoughts! But I just couldn’t help myself.
At first, of course, I didn’t say a word. I tried to confirm my soul in self-control. Oh, how I tried! And she played it straight, even when she caught me staring at her alabaster cities. But then I succumbed. I succumbed to sin. It was a business trip, of course. What a trip! It took us from the redwood forests all the way to the gulf stream waters. I was working so hard! Did I mention that I was working so very hard?
On that perilous night, when I first lifted my lamp by her golden door, she was dressed in broad stripes and bright stars. I was always a sucker for broad stripes and bright stars. It happened after a long day of exceedingly hard work. Boy, was I tired from all that hard work! She knew I wanted her. And I knew she wanted me. In a flash, our clothes fell to the floor, and she whispered huskily in my ear, “Give me your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,” and before I knew it, I saw that golden valley. Oh, the rockets’ red glare! The bombs bursting in air! In that moment of indivisible union, I screamed out, “America, America! God shed His grace on thee!”
I was hopelessly, irretrievably in love. I guess that makes me a sinner. But it also makes me a patriot.
Photo by Gage Skidmore