Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has reportedly sent a long email to an ultraconservative Iowa group opposing same-sex marriage and the military policy of "Don't ask, don't tell." He also took a personal pledge to stick to his own marriage vows.
"I also pledge to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others," Gingrich promised in the email.
Well, now: The former House speaker vows to be true to his third wife, with whom he cheated on the second one, whom he married after dumping his first bride — who was his former high school teacher.
Gingrich's latest fidelity pledge — apparently overriding the three he has taken at the altar — was entered into with the evangelical Iowa Family Leader group, which will be active in the upcoming Iowa caucus.
Among its 14-point platform, the conservative group's "marriage vow" outlaws same-sex unions. The fidelity-challenged presidential candidate, besieged on the issue by his GOP rivals, first had to clear up his personal views on marriage between a man and a woman.
Gingrich is nothing if not impulsive, and a tad devilish.
It has been duly noted by Laura Ingraham and others that the 68-year-old has the visage of a real-life Chucky of Child's Play movie fame, and the senior citizen is known to act on devilish impulses. When the fit comes over him, as it did during Mitt Romney's "career politician" attack during the debate on Dec. 10, Newt's eyes roll into a scowl and his face goes full Chucky.
When first I laid eyes on Gingrich as House speaker in the '90s, he was strolling in the fullness of his egomaniacal puissance, alongside then-President Bill Clinton in the White House. Within weeks, this Newt-turned-Chucky was forcing the longest shutdown of the government in U.S. history. Already Gingrich had hit on congressional staffer Callista Bisek (now wife No. 3), an affair he would nurse along under the nose of his ailing wife Marianne and throughout the impeachment trial of President Clinton for carrying on an affair of short duration with a female intern.
In fairness, Gingrich explains that he pursued his fellow horndog for "lying" about his illicit relation with Monica Lewinsky — though, at the time, he was not exactly forthcoming about his own fair maiden on the side. Under attack for the Callista affair (they subsequently married), Newt chalked it up at the Saturday debate as something of a youthful indiscretion, back when he was 53. "I'm a 68-year-old grandfather."
Still, this grandfather, whose fires may have banked somewhat, has not lost that Chucky impulse to wreak havoc.
The eyes of Newt went devilish at that weekend GOP debate when the former speaker of the House slashed at Romney's tiresome and not-quite-accurate boast that he's spent his entire career in the private sector.
Slamming Gingrich as a career politician, Romney, with his starched, missionary face, claimed that "our real difference is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector." This night, however, first-place Gingrich was taking none of this from his key challenger.
"The only reason you didn't become a career politician," Gingrich shot back, "is because you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1994." He did indeed. And in something of a precursor, Romney's Senate opponent nailed him for flip-flopping on abortion.
"I'm pro-choice," Sen. Kennedy said famously. "My opponent is multiple choice."
Some nine years after losing that Massachusetts senatorial race to Kennedy, Romney followed in his father's footsteps and got himself elected governor. Following his term, he ran for the U.S. presidency and has been running ever since.
Perhaps Gingrich gave up on the "career" chase because he chose not to direct undue attention to his own dark closet of political double-dealings. In addition to writing books, he has spent the last 13 years feeding at the quasi-government trough as a richly compensated "historian." Curiously, the professor's lecture halls of choice are indistinguishable from the plush lairs of Capitol Hill lobbyists.
A lot — though nowhere near enough — has been made of the well-connected former House speaker pocketing some $1.6 million from Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant that some experts link directly to the nationwide housing scandal. Publicly, Gingrich has pretended to decry the excesses of Freddie Mac, even as he was likely spending its loot at Tiffany & Co. During the '08 presidential campaign, he even suggested that Sen. John McCain ask then-Sen. Obama, "Are you prepared to give back all the money that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae gave you?"
During that televised chat on Fox in 2008, the eyes of Newt started doing that Chucky thing, as with the Romney attack the other night.
Still, if we are to believe the polls in the year of our Lord 2011, the Republicans have searched all 50 states, including Alaska, and could find no more worthy a candidate to bear the party standards than an embittered Newton Leroy Gingrich — recycled.
Beware of the "Revenge of Chucky"!
Les Payne is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and frequent contributor to The Root.