This morning, I was reading a column from my good friend, Debra Saunders who expresses why she is pleased that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has decided NOT to seek the Presidency. I think that Debra is the only Republican columnist for that left-wing paper who writes consistently on political issues. While not as conservative as yours truly, when you consider the arena in which she is expressing herself, she is a very conservative writer.
Anyway, I read her column and realized that I that I was harboring many of the same feelings. Newt Gingrich had his shot, when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives, to show what kind of leader he can be — and he fell short. I don’t want to turn this Sunday morning column into a negative diatribe on Newt, as I do not bear him personal animus. But I will say that when it was revealed that he had been in the midst of a torrid affair with a mistress at the very same time that he was blasting President Clinton for his shameful (and it was) conduct with Monica Lewinsky, that revelation, as far as I am concerned, forever shaped my opinion of Gingrich.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think that a lot of the stuff that he has been doing lately, including his project with Solutions Day, are great ideas. I thoroughly enjoy hearing the former Speaker give an address, and think that he has a lot of great, really good ideas that would help our country.
Still, at the end of the day, in order to occupy the position of President of the United States, you need to be of superior moral character. I am not sure exactly what road Newt Gingrich has gone down, personally, since all of that happened. But to be so vocally critical of what others were doing from his high office (third in line from the Presidency) while committing equally as bad behavior, at the same time, himself — is so bad that I have trouble imagining how such a person could "rehabilitate" themselves to be a trustworthy President.
When I spoke with someone about this commentary, they said that they didn’t like it because it makes it sound like I don’t believe that people can change… I thought about it, and they are right. I don’t want to get so cynical about this kind of thing that it closes my ability to evaluate whether someone regrets an action they took, and has actually changed.
So I will close on this point. I have no idea how Newt Gingrich feels about what he did, or what he learned from that experience. But I do know, from talking to many people, that I am not alone in being skeptical about him, because of what he did.
There are a number of other conservative leaders out there besides Gingrich who are doing great things these days, but still, I wouldn’t want them to be my President. Newt Gingrich has a lot of good that he can still contribute to politics in America. But he should completely understand that there are many people in the conservative movement, such as myself, who see him differently now than we did when he was barnstorming the nation in 1994 holding up the Contract With America.
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