Marvin Olasky, publisher of the evangelical World magazine, has written a lengthy and meandering article about the infidelities of Newt Gingrich—not just to his wives, but to the conservative cause.
Olasky’s starting point is Gingrich’s profession of faith, and his claim that he has sought forgiveness for his infidelities. Gingrich has not reached out to his would-be Republican allies, Olasky contends, leading them to question both his trustworthiness and loyalty to the party. But the nut of Olasky’s probe is not whether Gingrich has gotten on his knees and asked his colleagues’ forgiveness, but whether he bartered away leverage against then-President Clinton in order to avoid scrutiny for his own affairs.
Olasky’s starting point is a comment made to him by Dick Armey, who was House Majority Leader when Gingrich was Speaker, and now runs the Tea Party front group FreedomWorks. Olasky:
In the course of a long interview last fall, he [Armey] told me that President Bill Clinton “found out about the Gingrich affair and called Newt over to the White House for a private meeting between the two of them.” Armey argued that Clinton pressured Gingrich to go easy on that year’s impeachment drive “or I’ll start telling your story.” He claimed the two leaders “had many meetings that we didn’t know about where they’d drink wine and smoke cigars and talk about their girlfriends.”
When Gingrich’s press secretary complained about Armey’s statement, I told him WORLD would be glad to print a rebuttal. The Gingrich aide didn’t pursue it, and at the time it didn’t seem important to probe any further the character of Newt Gingrich, private citizen. All that changed when Gingrich announced his campaign for the presidency on May 11.
Olaksy concludes, after interviewing numerous sources, that Armey’s statement is “unconfirmable,” although there’s ample evidence that the press and many in official Washington were aware of Gingrich’s affair with his now-wife, Callista. Armey concluded to Olasky “that Gingrich had been extraordinarily reckless and had left himself open to pressure that the White House was willing to use. Such conduct, he suggested, means that Gingrich’s candidacy is not worthy of support.” Ouch!
Olasky’s piling on here—regardless of whether the story about Gingrich and Clinton smoking and drinking and cutting deals to avoid scrutiny for their affairs—shows just how deep animosity to Gingrich is in the conservative movement, and particularly among Christian right elites he has targeted with his newfound faux piety. They have not just objections to his patently unkosher personal life (something they may forgive with proper contrition) but his blatant self-interest. His downward-spiraling campaign is on deathwatch.