The Republican Party has long sought to position itself as the party of family values. They fiercely defend what they call “traditional” marriage. They are the epitome of the faithful, sacred, one-man, one-woman, Till Death Do Us Party.
Except when it is politically inconvenient.
With the Republican primary race settling down to a two man contest between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, the GOP Defense Squad (aka Fox News) is jumping out in front of a potentially devastating calamity.
By now most voters are aware that Newt Gingrich is an abhorrent slug who has cheated on multiple wives and divorced them when they were ill. He even engaged in a tryst with a young woman on his staff while he was leading the effort to impeach Bill Clinton for having a tryst with a young woman on his staff. The argument made repeatedly was that a public servant who could not be trusted to keep his marital vows, could not be trusted with the responsibility of leadership – that character matters.
Now that a Gingrich primary victory is being perceived as plausible, the martinets of virtue are coming forward with modified tenets of behavior that not only absolve Gingrich of his sins, but cast him as paragon of principle and morality.
This unexpected and unseemly turn of events is exemplified by Rush Limbaugh who related a story to his radio audience that expressed sympathy for Gingrich as the victim in his marital woes, and praised his open infidelity as “a mark of character.” But no one can come close to the Fox News editorial by alleged psychiatrist Keith Ablow titled, “Newt Gingrich’s Three Marriages Mean He Might Make A Strong President – Really!”
Ablow is the resident Fox News psychiatrist and a co-author of a book with Glenn Beck. Ablow’s treatise on the merits of infidelity commence with the assertion that the whole affair is just a creation of the media that is “trying to castrate candidates for the prurient pleasure of the public.” It’s a position that appears to defend promiscuity. How dare the media expect pious politicians to live the chaste lives of the little people they govern? Our leaders, Ablow implies, must not be rendered impotent by standards of conduct that need only apply to peasants – and Democrats. Then Ablow condescends to dictate the import of these events to the peons who populate the Fox family:
“I will tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s personal history actually means for those of us who want to right the economy, see our neighbors and friends go back to work, promote freedom here and abroad and defeat the growing threat posed by Iran and other evil regimes.”
What a relief. Ablow will tell us the meaning of it all, which saves us the trouble of having to think for ourselves. And the first thing he wants us to know is that the age-old dogma of conservative politics – that character matters – is a myth:
“You can take any moral position you like about men and women who cheat while married, but there simply is no correlation, whatsoever — from a psychological perspective — between whether they can remain true to their wedding vows and whether they can remain true to the Oath of Office.”
Ablow, of course, is directly contradicting Gingrich himself, and the standard Gingrich set while he was trying to impeach Clinton. But Ablow is not deterred. He then lays out a five-point justification for how a serial adulterer is better able to make America stronger:
- 1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.
- 2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.
- 3) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.
- 4) Two women — Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives — have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.
- 5) Mr. Gingrich’s daughters from his first marriage are among his most vigorous supporters. They obviously adore him and respect him and feel grateful for the kind of father he was.
Seriously! Those are Ablow’s five points verbatim. I’m not making this up. See for yourself. Now, let’s look at them one at a time:
- 1) Ablow thinks that it is a measure of a man’s greatness that multiple women have agreed to marry him. By that standard we should elect Larry King or Dog the Bounty Hunter president. Both have been married more times than Gingrich. And Ablow might also look into the multiple marriage proposals received by men in prison, including rapists and murderers. Is Ablow endorsing their candidacies?
- 2) In Ablow’s professional opinion, as a psychiatrist, if the woman is a home wrecker it further validates the virtue of the adulterous man. I’m sure that’s documented in psychiatric journals and textbooks.
- 3) If the home wrecker is hot (according to Ablow), and the man is not, then he must truly be a great leader. Obviously Ablow is unfamiliar with the romantic successes of repugnant rich and/or powerful men. I refer Ablow to billionaire oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall (married to Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith) and Henry Kissinger (who said that “power is the ultimate aphrodisiac”).
- 4) Ablow regards the fact that Gingrich told both of his sick ex-wives that he was dumping them as evidence of honesty and moral strength. But Gingrich was hardly honest while he was engaging in his affairs for years before he got around to telling his spouses. And he was hardly moral for abandoning them when they were in need. The best that could be said for Gingrich is that if he were president he might tell us about his crimes and improprieties in office years after his term was over.
- 5) It’s funny how people like Ablow never mention Gingrich’s gay
daughtersister, Candace, when they are making a point about family harmony.
Finally, Ablow offers his psychoanalysis of Gingrich in his closing paragraph:
“So, as far as I can tell, judging from the psychological data, we have only one real risk to America from his marital history if Newt Gingrich were to become president: We would need to worry that another nation, perhaps a little younger than ours, would be so taken by Mr. Gingrich that it would seduce him into marrying it and becoming its president. And I think that is exceedingly unlikely.”
First of all, to what psychological data is Ablow referring? He has never examined Gingrich or his family. This is another in a series of irresponsible and unethical psychiatric appraisals conducted by Ablow. He has previously published his deranged opinions about President Obama and Media Matters founder, David Brock. In both of those cases, as here, Ablow is in violation of the American Psychiatric Association’s Principles of Medical Ethics (Section 7.3), which state:
“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.“
Why this hack hasn’t had his license revoked is a mystery. Setting that aside, clearly Ablow intends his closing remarks to be a joke, but there are some very real concerns embedded in it. Gingrich’s loyalty to others is a fragile thing. While he may not leave America for a younger, prettier country, he certainly cannot be depended on to pursue the interests of this nation if they are in conflict with his own personal interests. He was ousted from his Speakership and his House seat due to the pursuit of his personal financial interests. And he has a long history of taking political positions that advance his electoral prospects. Add to that his selfishness with regard to his marital history and you have a picture of man who is morally, if not literally, treasonous.
The conclusions by “Doctor” Ablow are an obvious attempt on the part of Fox News to whitewash Gingrich’s past. If Ablow thinks that three wives and two extramarital affairs (that we know about) enhance Gingrich’s qualifications to be president, then what about a candidate with five or six wives and a membership in the Swingers Club?
The logical extension of Ablow’s theory would put Charlie Sheen atop his list of America’s best presidential aspirants. [Come to think of it, would Sheen be any worse than Perry, Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Gingrich, etc.?] And this is what the Republican Party is passing off as family values in the 21st century. Now if they could just get Sheen to come out against abortion and declare war on Iran, they’d have themselves a real dream candidate.
[Update] The good news is that Ablow is getting pummeled in the press for his idiocy. Even his own network has called his article “asinine” and “pandering slop.” Although it was just on their overnight comedy show Red Eye.