Newt Gingrich, a glib survivor of a scandalous political career, said on Fox News the other day that if Donald Trump tones down his words he would be a “remarkably great president”. I won’t try to follow the logic of a fellow who, as a self-satisfied presidential smoothie, once promised to colonize the moon. Back on this planet, he proposed firing all of the public school janitors and having the students fill the tasks. Soaring ideas like those are probably what convinced President Trump to nominate Gingrich’s wife Callista to be the ambassador to Vatican City. The move also may have been Trump’s act of vindication for having to share the planet with the Pope.
But in other ways, it was also an act of defiance to thank his friend, the thrice married Georgian, sending his spouse off to Rome to agitate the powerful Holy See. As we all must know, divorce is not the safest path to Heaven for Catholics.
How else can we assess the shock of stationing Callista and Newt on holy turf? As Dana Milbank of the Washington Post noted, Callista is the author of children’s books about an elephant named Ellis, plays a French horn in City of Fairfax Band and sings in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. She’s also a former clerk of the House Agriculture Committee. That doesn’t qualify her to be a U.S. priestess.
Still she’s more qualified in her new job than most of Trump’s other chosen few.
OK. I admit that having traveled the crowded streets of Rome more than once, I resent having to pay for Newt’s all-expense-free Roman holiday with my tax dollars. There are only so many left-over coins that I can toss into the fountain.
Gingrich has been so sure of himself as a darling of right-wing broadcasting that the passing years since he was kicked out as the U.S. House speaker for unethical behavior have all but purged his record as a silken-voiced con man. You remember don’t you, that he was also fined $300,000 in 1997 – the first time, the Post noted, in the House’s 208-year history that it disciplined a speaker for “ethical wrongdoing”. And by a 395-28 vote! Sad, as Trump would say.
And you do remember that as speaker, he was the Republican bell cow for his ‘“contract for America” and the moves that twice shut down the government. In fairness, he was so much younger then.
There’s more. He was quite active in the impeachment of Bill Clinton for that president’s sexual mischief even though Gingrich saw no disgrace in his own years-long extramarital relationship with a young woman named, um…Callista.
Describing Newt as a “megalomaniacal opportunist,: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote six years ago that Gingrich was a phony who boasted, ”People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz.” He modestly claimed to be a “World Historical Transformation Figure’. In a single lifetime. We wonder about his enabler, Donald Trump, who shares that view without really understanding what Newt is talking about. And Trump wasn’t around at the time to pardon him.
But what will he do about those public school janitors? Ciao.