I suppose that it was inevitable that the “Anyone but Mitt” bloc of Republican voters would eventually give Newt Gingrich a second look. After all, he can put a complete sentence together and stays current on world events. He doesn’t take pride in being inarticulate (like Rick Perry) or think it’s cute not to know a thing about foreign countries (like Herman Cain). Unlike Michele Bachmann, he could pass a junior high exam in American History; unlike Ron Paul, he doesn’t live in a parallel universe. Newt isn’t bland and weightless, like Rick Santorum, and he doesn’t appear to be a holograph, like Jon Huntsman. He’s obviously smart.
This is all true, and yet Newt is a wretched choice. Not because he has virtually no executive experience (and we should be learning what that means.) Not because in his only extended attempt at filling an important and challenging leadership position when he was Speaker of the House, he squandered a position of strength with ethical misconduct and unrestrained hubris worthy of the House of Atreus. Newt is unqualified to be president because he is demonstrably an awful human being.
For those tempted to make the argument that a leader’s core character doesn’t matter, I have two words: John Edwards. Here are two more: Richard Nixon, although I would trust Tricky Dick before I would trust Newt. In his case, the media’s hunger for trying to destroy Republican front-runners will have genuine benefits, and it won’t have to concoct scandals about painted-over rocks. Newt lies. Newt betrays. Newt refuses at accept responsibility for his own misconduct. He’s a hypocrite. He shows all the signs of being a narcissist.
Focus, you Republicans: leadership has to include trustworthiness, and everyone who ever trusted Newt, notably his first two wives, have discovered that he is ruthless, cold and self-centered. Remember that his entire staff walked out on him when he rewarded their hard work and devotion by taking a vacation when he needed to be working as hard as they were.
Have men of seriously flawed character been successful and even great Presidents? Certainly. It is still a terrible risk to put someone with dubious character in a position of great power, and irresponsible of any voter to knowingly choose someone with a track record of lies and betrayals. With the exception of Nixon, the S.O.B.’s who became President successfully hid their ethical rot from the public, a few of them, like Woodrow Wilson and Jack Kennedy, for their entire time in office. We know Newt, or should. The media likes to refer to Newt Gingrich’s character deficiency as “baggage,” like it’s just a burden to be overcome, like a lisp or bad mortgage. It isn’t baggage; it’s a warning.
I’ve written about Newt’s character several times, here, here and here. It shouldn’t require any more exposition; the record is clear. Newt Gingrich lacks the strength of character that President must possess. Awful human beings should not lead nations, if there is any alternative at all
There has to be.