(More at What Would Jack Do?)

I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that…. Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine. My two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am, frankly, astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.

- Newt Gingrich

It was just another GOP debate, this one in Charleston, SC. Yet more posturing, tenuous “facts”, unsubstantiated accusations…in short, there was little to distinguish this debate from the 114 that preceded it. Except for a stunning, astonishing, and truly mind-blowing display of hypocrisy from one Newton Leroy Gingrich. The truly sad thing is that no one, least of all the mainstream media, seems to be calling Gingrich out for what can only accurately be described as epic, sanctimonious pharisaicalness.

There Gingrich was, claiming the mantle of the unfairly attacked when John King had the temerity to ask him about an interview that ABC News did with ex-wife #2, Marianne. In it, his ex-wife claimed that Gingrich had come to her in the midst of having an affair with Callista Bialek (now wife #3) and asked for an open marriage. Marianne Gingrich saw the request for its self-serving nature and refused.

Personally, I don’t care if Newt Gingrich has been married 15 times and has a predilection for concurrent affairs with farm animals. What happens between consenting species is no one else’s damned business…unless you’re a Democratic President and Gingrich happens to be the Republican Speaker of the House. This isn’t intended to defend or justify Bill Clinton’s extramarital cigar-related peccadilloes, but Gingrich was front and center in the Republican effort to crucify the President during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gingrich led the pitchforks-and-torches brigade in the effort to embarrass the President as much as possible, with an eye towards forcing him from office.

At that point in time, Gingrich absolutely believed that Bill Clinton’s unfaithfulness rendered him a moral reprobate unworthy of holding the highest office in the land. To Gingrich’s way of thinking, the President’s embarrassing affair was an abomination, an affront to all the American people hold dear. Gingrich took it as his solemn mission to inflict as much damage as possible. That Gingrich’s marital record and his integrity was a house built upon a foundation of sand was somehow not germane to President Clinton’s unforgivable moral transgressions. This from the man who once counseled fellow Republicans to describe their Democratic opponents using words like

Decay, pathetic, sick, lie, betray, shallow, traitors, hypocrisy, hypocrisy, radical, incompetent, permissive, destructive, greed, corrupt, selfish, shame, disgrace, bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power

Helluva guy, that Newt Gingrich….

Given Gingrich’a history of moralizing, and his current pandering to the Religious Right, King’s question was spot-on, and I applaud him for having the balls to ask it in front of a audience overtly hostile to any question relevant to Gingrich’s sanctimonious, holier-than-thou moralizing. Would that more effort could have been expended in forcing Gingrich to actually address the issue instead of allowing him to go on the attack, but it was at least a step in the right direction.

Not surprisingly, Gingrich holds himself to a standard far removed from those he holds others (read: Democrats) to. When a Democrat does it, it’s the worst sort of moral failure imaginable. When a Republican does it, it’s merely a case of being a fallible, imperfect human being worthy of God’s (and voters) forgiveness.

I find it astonishing that Gingrich’s hypocrisy and personal double standards are allowed to slide without question. I can’t help but think that if he was a Democrat, Gingrich would have long since been hounded and harassed to the point where he’d have no choice but to pull out of the race for the nomination. That may be the partisan Liberal Democrat in me speaking, but given today’s media and political environment, I don’t think I’m wrong.

Gingrich has no claim to offense when and if questions about his lack of integrity and marital fidelity are raised. Those questions will be raised honestly…because Gingrich himself long ago made them relevant. There’s simply no way Gingrich can claim immunity from the same examination and scrutiny that he demands other (read: Democrats) be subjected to.

May he stay in the race long enough to be hoisted on his own petard. I truly think I’d take WAY too much pleasure from witnessing that process. Part of me thinks that might make me a bad person, but when it comes to Newton Leroy Gingrich, a trip on the Schadenfreude Express is its own reward.