I was on Hardball today discussing — among other things — Newt Gingrich’s return to electoral politics with what will apparently be an actual, rather than a threatened, run for the White House.
Bear in mind, Newt is almost as bad as Donald Trump when it comes to threatened runs for president. He talks up the possibility every four years for the ego and/or money boost. He just never follows through. But now he apparently is. And this time, not only is he running, but he’s already chosen his vice presidential running mate: God.
I’ve mentioned at various points how unrealistic a Newt for president campaign is — the polarizing politics and style, the history of mercurial and unstable behavior, the personal track record. There are like a hundred reasons. But one big one is his own history of infidelity. But as David Frum notes in a post this evening, infidelity isn’t really the problem. As David puts it …
It’s not the infidelity. It’s the arrogance, hypocrisy, and – most horrifying to women voters – the cruelty.
Anyone can dump one sick wife. Gingrich dumped two.
Let’s remember, Newt famously dumped wife #1 for wife #2 while wife #1 was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. As in literally went to the hospital to present her with divorce papers while she was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer.
He eventually dumped wife #2 for wife #3 shortly after wife #2 was diagnosed with MS back in 1999. And he was having the affair on wife #2 with wife #3 while he was turning the country upside down trying to drive Bill Clinton from office over his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
There are so many reasons why Gingrich is the lead balloon of presidential politics, but Frum really has this right that the infidelity thing is just something he cannot survive. Not because voters won’t tolerate infidelity — in many circumstances they will — but because the pattern with Gingrich shows a level of hypocrisy, cruelty and emotional immaturity that most people won’t accept in a president.
Late Update: TPM alum Justin Elliott notes in this new story that the ‘serving the papers’ part of the story in the hospital room may be an embellishment, though it’s taken a seemingly unbreakable hold as part of the Newt story. It may just be that he broke the news that he wanted the divorce as she was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I’m not sure that changes the big picture. But the details always matter.