Media Matters and New York’s Dan Amira are highlighting an op-ed published on Fox News.com yesterday by Glenn Beck co-author Dr. Keith Ablow, which argues that Newt Gingrich’s two broken marriages shouldn’t concern potential voters. In fact, Ablow argues that Gingrich’s infidelity and the way he treated his ex-wives are positive indicators about what he would be like as president:
Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.
Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.
Ablow — who has been accused of “gloss[ing] over real medical evaluation in favor of hyper-partisanship” — had a different take on politician infidelity last year when then-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was revealed to have sexted with several women:
While Weiner’s lapse in judgment in carrying on illicit e-mail or “sexting” relationships with these women might not be grounds for his dismissal from the House, Ablow believes his decision to lie about it makes him unqualified to represent the people of Brooklyn and Queens.
“Can someone be ‘sexting’ and be a decent leader, or even an exemplary leader? Yes, it’s possible,” Ablow said. “Can that same person lie in a seemingly emotionless fashion in front of cameras, and to the American people, and to one’s constituents? No. That person can’t be trusted.”
Had Weiner not, as he put it yesterday, “panicked” after sending out the inappropriate tweet, and came forward saying, “It’s nobody’s business what I do in terms of my romantic, erotic endeavors, I’m serving with passion and energy,” Ablow thinks he would have survived calls for resignation. Now, however, “When he lies to the American people, that’s a big problem.”
Ablow was focusing on Weiner’s post-indiscretion lying rather than the indiscretion, so this isn’t the cleanest hypocrisy hit. But has Gingrich been honest with the public about his infidelity?
As Ablow notes, Newt Gingrich denies Marianne Gingrich’s claim that he asked for an “open marriage.” Does Ablow believe that? If this could be fact-checked, which is doubtful, and it turns out to be true, does he think lying about that would make Gingrich unqualified to be president? What about other lies?
At Thursday’s debate, Gingrich railed against ABC News’s interview with his second ex-wife, Marianne, in which she said he had asked her for an “open marriage.” As part of his assault on the propriety of the media speaking to his ex, Gingrich declared that “Every personal friend I had in that period says the story was false” and his campaign “offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren’t interested because they would like to attack any Republican.” ABC says that’s a lie since they included a defense by his daughters in their story and sought to speak to other surrogates.
This doesn’t even touch on how Gingrich was carrying on behind Marianne’s back while publicly leading the push to impeach Bill Clinton over his infidelity. At the time of the affair, Gingrich was publicly extolling family values. In fact, two days after asking Marianne for an “open marriage,” Gingrich delivered a speech in which he charged liberals with rejecting values and denying that George Washington was “an ethical man” of “standards.” Does such public hypocrisy cross the line to lying to the American people?
I generally agree with Ablow that what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults is not very important when considering who should be in what elected office. But his pro-Gingrich op-ed is a completely ridiculous rationalization in defense of a politician he seems to support. Apparently, when the dishonest, philandering politician isn’t someone he seems to support, Ablow holds them to different standards.
UPDATE: Even Ablow’s co-workers at Fox News thought his op-ed was ridiculous. Mediaite’s Frances Martel notes that the network’s late night show, Red Eye, ripped into Ablow’s argument last night, with guests calling it “asinine,” “insane” and “pandering slop.”