In a Huffington Post interview published on December 20, Newt Gingrich attempts to chart a course for Republican competitiveness (or relevance) in national elections. As usual with the former Speaker, there is a sleight of hand that avoids personal responsibility and reworks the facts.
Consider his exposition on same-sex marriage:
On gay marriage, meanwhile, Gingrich argued that Republicans could no longer close their eyes to the course of public opinion. While he continued to profess a belief that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman, he suggested that the party (and he himself) could accept a distinction between a “marriage in a church from a legal document issued by the state” — the latter being acceptable.
No proposed, or enacted, legislation regarding marriage equality has required churches to perform the ceremony. The stance has always been: Civil marriage is a civil right. One of the right’s longstanding fear tactics is that ministers and priests will lose their free speech rights and be “forced to preach the homosexual lifestyle.” I am not fooled by Gingrich’s slipperiness on the slippery slope that never was.
Stepping back from the political, Gingrich noted that he has a personal stake in the gay marriage debate. His half-sister works at the Human Rights Campaign. He has gay friends who’ve gotten married in Iowa. The man who once compared same-sex marriage to paganism is now worried that the Republican Party could find itself trapped in a bygone era on the matter.
Before Gingrich compared same-sex marriage to paganism, he regularly compared homosexuality to alcoholism. The “big thinker” of Republican Party first made the alcoholic comparison in 1994, 22 years after the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality as a mental disorder.
And if Gingrich does have a personal stake in the debate, why wasn’t it on display before now? Seems he had little use for his sister, Candace, when he was pontificating on Fox or pandering to the far right during his 2011-12 presidential run.
“I didn’t think that [the party’s predicament] was inevitable 10 or 15 years ago, when we passed the Defense of Marriage Act,” he said. “It didn’t seem at the time to be anything like as big a wave of change as we are now seeing.”
More Gingrich B.S. The wave of change was nearing full crest in September 2011, when Gingrich called gay marriage, “a temporary aberration that will dissipate.” He even called for President Obama to be impeached over the administration’s refusal to defend DOMA in court.
To his list of post mortems on the 2012 campaign, Gingrich should add this. While President Obama embraced marriage equality and defended his historic expansion of access to healthcare, Mitt Romney and most Republicans played shamelessly to the old bromides of the right.
In the Huff Post piece, Gingrich refuses the self-examination that goes to the heart of this matter: leaders lead.