GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich probably won South Carolina with his brilliant — and no doubt well-rehearsed — rebuff of the CNN debate moderator in a pre-primary debate.
Gingrich’s response was so powerful that it seemed to overwhelm the underlying allegation that he had sought an “open marriage” from his second wife. That’s a remarkable accomplishment in a state that historically desires strong family values from its elected officials.
While we worry about Gingrich’s temperament and consistency, it may be a positive that voters are focusing less on the private lives of the candidates. Some of our best presidents — not up to the temptations that come with power — have had enormous lapses in personal morality.
Democrats and Gingrich’s Republican opponents are attempting to depict the issue as being about the former House speaker’s hypocrisy.
Gingrich did, after all, play a major role in the effort to impeach former President Bill Clinton after revelations of his infidelities.
The depiction, though, is not entirely accurate. Gingrich was clear at the time that Clinton’s impeachable offense was not promiscuity, but lying under oath.
Gingrich may have considered himself above personal morality in his dealings with his former wife, but as yet there have been no revelations that he considered himself to be above the law.
The Decatur (Ala.) Daily (Jan. 26)