Susan Estrich: Will voters forgive Newt and Callista's dating background?
by Susan Estrich
May 12, 2011 12:00 AM | 4705 views | 5 5 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was probably ironic that in at least one of the online papers I was reading, the story of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver's separation played literally back to back with the story of Newt and Callista Gingrich's ascension and how it is expected that she will turn the liability of his infidelity, which led to their marriage, into an asset.

In their statement, Arnold and Maria asked for privacy. I have the greatest respect and fondness for both of them. And I am old-fashioned enough - or maybe just consistent enough - to believe that if you keep your personal life personal, it should be treated as just that.

Which raises the Newt and Callista question. Apparently, former Speaker Gingrich was dating - or whatever you want to call it for a family paper - his now third wife, a congressional aide, while as Speaker he was pursuing the impeachment of President Clinton on charges growing out of the president's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

Full disclosure: I also like Newt. I don't agree with him. I wouldn't vote for him. But among the on-air and speech-circuit gladiators, there is no one who is smarter, better prepared or more courteous and considerate. Over the years, I've always been happy to see Newt on my schedule.

And I don't care who he was "dating" or when. If everyone holding elected office in Washington who had "dated" during the last term was suddenly removed from office... You know what I mean. Far as I've been able to tell, such behavior crosses every line, certainly party lines. If I were married to him, or a close friend or relative were, I'd care plenty.

For me, the only issue is the hypocrisy. How could you seek to impeach the president when you were engaging in the same kind of underlying conduct? Was there no limit to partisanship? My questions have absolutely nothing to do with Callista.

The good news for Newt is that the people who vote in Republican primaries, at least most of them, probably believe the impeachment of Clinton was justified. They won't ask him my questions, at least not the hypocrisy part.

The bad news is that if social issues are anywhere on your agenda, it's hard to have a candidate who doesn't live them or at least look like he lives them. Newt, no matter how charming his wife (and I am sure she is charming), no matter how genuine the love story they built on troubled beginnings (and I have no doubt it is real and strong), has a problem with primary voters who are still holding on to the social agenda.

Maybe it's time for Republicans to let go of that agenda once and for all. Maybe embracing Newt is the way you do that. But I'm not sure they've lost enough times to be at that point.

So there it is: She was a girl in her 20s who reportedly had a six-year affair with a powerful, older married congressman and ended up by his side as he prepares to run for president.

Fairy tale? Or worse than being Mormon? (Sorry, just putting it out on the table). If the personal is political and morality is a big part of your politics, it's a tough one. On the other hand, if you're looking for someone who understands how government works and knows the forces of history, Newt has a lot to recommend him.

Susan Estrich is a law professor in California

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Carl J. Iannacone
May 16, 2011
The same old tired Democrat lie. Bill Clinton's impeachment was about his lies to a grand jury, not his numerous affairs including Lewinsky for which he got caught.

I thought the re-election of Bill Clinton ended the discussion of character as President since we learned that those with no character could be President.

Let's stop talking about Newt the person, but his ideas. His knowledge of history and the political process is unparalleled.
May 14, 2011
A serial adulterer as President, much less a First Lady who is also an adulterer. No way. Newt may be popular with the establishment and political pundits but they are so out of touch with the average American. Could you truly have your children consider Newt and Calista as role models? Newt, if you have any class, stick to your philosophizing otherwise your are going to go down in flames just like when you were escorted out of the Speakers office and abandoned your post as a Congressman.
May 12, 2011
We simply can't allow someone as stupid as Gingrich even to run for President of the USA.

And he is an idiot if he thinks anyone will believe his crap about how he cheated on his wife because he loves his country so much.

My husband received a Service Pin from the Under Secretary of State for giving over 40 years working for his country most of it overseas and much of it in Africa. We were married for almost 19 years and nothing made him cheat, even his love of country, which he well proved. Get a Life, Newtie!
Kelli Kelly
May 12, 2011
Susan Estrich should be less opinionated about the Mormans. Perhaps all the anesthesia from being under the plastic surgeon's knife has killed brain cells? Just putting it out on the table, LOL.
cherokee woman
May 12, 2011
no trust in this man he don't seem to do the right things the right way in his life how is he going to run the goverment the same way surely we have someone better
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides