The Money and Morals of Newt and Callista

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May 10 2011 2:23 PM

The Money and Morals of Newt and Callista

Libby,  as you note , a front page story in today’s New York Times describes how Callista Gingrich, Newt’s third wife, is expected to have a central role should he run for president. We learn that as part of a possible "reintroduction" to the public as more than just the young Hill staffer with whom he was cheating on his second wife, Callista has written a children’s book to be published in the fall. How I wish the title were: Mommy, Who’s that Blonde Lady Standing So Close to Daddy? The article also notes that the Gingriches are constantly together. This may be because they are soul mates, or it may be that the current Mrs. Gingrich understands that the best way to be the former Mrs. Gingrich is to let Mr. Gingrich out of her sight.

As a sort of companion piece, yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran a story on the phenomenal riches accumulated by Newt’s many enterprises. Between 2009 and 2010 Gingrich, a loudmouth of dubious ethics, raised $32 million. He has various advocacy and for-profit groups, from health care consulting to churning out "inspirational" books and movies. (I saw a five-minute clip of a documentary starring Newt and the compellingly platinum-helmeted Callista. It kind of made me want to take a dose of that medication that’s supposed to prevent the formation of permanent, traumatic memories.)  For his possible presidential campaign, the Journal describes how "Newt Inc." spends millions on fundraising (one of his organizations spends more than half its earnings on telemarketing and direct mail) and chartered jet travel for the Gingriches.  Gingrich must know he won't be elected president, but if he doesn't at least make a feint at running, it will hurt his ability to get other people to give him their money.

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I’ll give the Gingriches credit for their utter lack of irony. At the same time he was denouncing Bill Clinton for his sexual transgressions, Newt was carrying on a long-term extramarital affair with Callista. But that was so long ago, and now, the Journal writes, he and Callista are out there campaigning, "to bring moral leadership back to our nation." Toward that end one of his groups "funneled $150,000 in seed money to a successful campaign last fall to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges who supported gay marriage."  How morally bankrupt can two people be? I actually don’t care that much about other people’s infidelities or accumulation of marriages. But apparently Newt and Callista do care enough about the love lives of others to put their money where their mouths are to prevent two people of the same sex having the same right as they do to marry the person they (finally, really and truly this time) love.

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

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