The Republican Party has maintained a death-grip on protestations of moral authority on matters of sexuality for most of my adult voting life. Since the Reagan administration we have seen a party that has consistently hoodwinked voters with its assurances that the morally upright Party of God would vanquish the amoral, pro-abortion, anything-goes-sexually-speaking Democrats.
Nowhere is the moral bankruptcy of the Republican Party and the pure ridiculousness of this assertion more blatantly on display than in the report that Callista Gingrich is about to be tapped as Ambassador to the Vatican—that is, if the Trump administration doesn’t implode before they can get the paperwork in.
Now admittedly, ambassador to the Holy See, which is technically the diplomatic entity of the Roman Catholic Church, is no life-and-death diplomatic position. It’s not like we’re going to go to war with the Swiss Guard. Since President Ronald Reagan formally opened relations with the Holy See in what was seen as a move to bolster his standing with Catholics, the position has generally been a reward for some faithful Catholic bolster of the president, although noted cultural warriors like former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn and Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon have served in the role.
And Trump himself reportedly said that he wanted to give Callista the position mainly to get Newt out of his hair.
But imagine a scenario in which a Democrat nominated as ambassador to a highly conservative religious entity that bans divorce a woman who was not only her husband’s third wife, but came into that marriage having been her husband’s mistress and helping torpedo his second marriage.
According to Marianne Gingrich, Newt’s second wife, “during Mr. Gingrich’s run for president in 2012 … her husband had sought an open marriage so that he could keep seeing Callista Bisek, then a congressional aide.”
Notably, like Callista, Marianne was also a congressional aide who began a relationship with Gingrich before his divorce from his first wife was finalized, which is what I believe the conservatives call serial adultery.
I’m all for moving beyond traditional assignments of sexual blame or shame that are generally used to pillory women for the sins of men. I generally believe that what happens in a marriage is no one’s business but the people in said marriage. But it would be wrong to fail to note the mindboggling hypocrisy of this move and the absolute white-washing of the illicit Gingrich–Bisek union by their enthusiastic embrace of Catholicism.
Ironically, it’s the very fact that Gingrich converted to Catholicism after he married Callista that made his previous non-Catholic marriages null and void, thereby more or less erasing his adultery in the eyes of the church. Callista, meanwhile, is front-and-center in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington every Sundays, a public position that at one time would have been unimaginable for a woman who came into a marriage under such a cloud.
Now imagine her presenting her credentials to an entity that has come under fierce criticism from conservatives for even considering the possibility that two people in a long-standing second marriage could be given dispensation to receive communion. But Newt and Callista routinely receive communion, because in the eyes of the Catholic church their marriage is perfectly legitimate even though he was “involved” with her while he was married to someone else. Then again, in an administration led by a thrice-divorced admitted philanderer, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.