Politics makes strange bedfellows
Political interests can bring together people who otherwise have little in common. This saying is adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster. (Cultural Dictionary at Dictionary.com)
Now, Newt Gingrich is no monster, but there are many Evangelical leaders, including the SBC’s Richard Land, who apparently are warming up to the idea of sleeping in the same bed with Mr. Gingrich (politically speaking, of course). Any port in a storm, as long as the port is Republican and not named Obama!
The more that these Evangelical leaders try to rehabilitate this Republican candidate for President, the greater their hypocrisy becomes. In my previous post, “Can a 2x Adulterer Be Elected President?,” I wrote:
Mr. Gingrich may have been the brilliant politician and tactician behind the Contract for America which led to the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in the 1994 elections, but he is not a man who should be placed in the highest office in the land. In fact, he should not be nominated by the Republican Party nor should he be supported by conservative Evangelicals and/or “Family Values Voters” in the first place.
Even though Mr. Gingrich will not be attending Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering this weekend, he is nevertheless making an appeal to win over skeptical Evangelicals. With an anemic Republican field that also includes Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty as announced candidates, it is somewhat understandable that some would gravitate to the man who led the Republican Party into power in the 1994 mid-term elections.
But, I continue to find it both fascinating and perplexing that the “some” would include well-known Evangelicals. If Newt Gingrich is the best that Evangelicals can hope for in the 2012 Presidential contest, then the “Faith and Family Values” bar has been lowered to the floor. And, when Evangelical “leaders” try to put a shine on a candidate that will never recover his luster, they begin to say totally inane things, almost on the level of a John Cusack tweet.
Consider the erstwhile Ralph Reed. Whether he realized it or not, Reed indirectly smeared Ronald Reagan in an attempt to sell a candidate to Evangelicals:
Reed, who will host this weekend’s Washington gathering as he attempts to revive his old Christian Coalition kingmaker role, predicted evangelicals will consider Gingrich as long as he speaks about his past mistakes and his current faith in God.
“I think there’s a misconception that evangelicals engage in identity voting,” Reed said, citing as evidence divorced Ronald Reagan’s win over evangelical Jimmy Carter.
So, are we to believe that Ronald Reagan, who divorced in 1948 and who had been faithfully married to his second wife, Nancy, for 28 years at the time of his candidacy in 1980, is somehow like Newt Gingrich in his marital life? Is that really the kind of evidence that Reed wants to use in making his pitch to Evangelicals on behalf of Gingrich? If so, then perhaps Mr. Reed is not quite as smart as he thinks he is.
It should not be surprising that people like Ralph Reed, who find their identity in politics, don’t really care about whether candidates live out the values they say they believe. Well, that’s not entirely true. If the leader is a liberal and/or a Democrat, then values — and the candidate’s personal moral failures — are of utmost importance to these so-called “Family Values” leaders. Can anyone say, “hypocrite!”
While I continue to believe that Newt Gingrich has disqualified himself for the highest office in the land — not because of his divorces, but because of his serial adultery — the President of Southern Baptist’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission apparently thinks that Gingrich can overcome what Scripture seems to indicate is a fatal leadership trait. I believe that no sin is too big that God cannot forgive (that’s why grace is so amazing), but just because even our “greatest” sins have been wiped clean does not mean that we avoid the consequences of our sinful actions.
Dr. Richard Land would better serve Southern Baptists by speaking less about politics and politicians and by speaking more on ethics and religious liberty issues (which is what Southern Baptists are paying him to do.) If he would have heeded that advice, he would not have made what was an inartful (I’m being charitable) comment about men’s and women’s views of Gingrich’s adultery:
“Men are much more willing to cut him some slack than women are,” said Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land, who said he’s asked hundreds of Southern Baptists what they think of Gingrich and his past. “I find that women don’t trust him and it doesn’t help that he’s married to the ‘other woman.”
Was Dr. Land talking about men and women in general or was he speaking more specifically of Evangelicals or Southern Baptists? Why would men be “more willing” to accept the multiple infidelities of Mr. Gingrich? Is Dr. Land somehow shocked that women would distrust a man who cheated on two wives (one of whom had cancer) and who then married “the other woman?” Oh, and Gingrich’s second act of unfaithfulness was when he was leading the charge against Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinski scandal. I hate to break it to Dr. Land, but there are Southern Baptist men who are not willing to cut Mr. Gingrich any slack nor to place our trust in a man who has shown on multiple occasions that he lacks the personal values to be an effective leader.
However, the views and feelings of Dr. Land and Ralph Reed concerning Newt Gingrich’s Presidential ambitions may resonate with more and more Evangelicals and Southern Baptists. It is a sad commentary that well-known Evangelical “leaders” are willing to become bedfellows with someone like Mr. Gingrich. Family values? What family values? Nothing to see here, folks. Let’s move along. I guess it gives a whole new meaning to “Family Values.” And, hypocrisy.