The XX Factor

The Passion of the Newt

Emily, I think I speak for all women when I say thank you for bestowing on us all the image of Newt Gingrich’s flag-draped genitals . The idea that one can be too busy loving America to stay faithful to one’s wife is certainly a novel excuse, but I think I know why he used it. The real reason for Newt’s infidelity is far less savory, and certainly not Jesus-y enough for the CBN audience.

The dates of Newt’s affairs appear to coincide with significant increases in political power. He diddled around on his first wife and left her shortly after getting elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He disposed of his second spouse and embarked on an affair with current owl-wife Callista Bisek during his tenure as speaker of the House in the mid-’90s. It wasn’t patriotism that led Newt to stray from his partners-it was a power trip. Many commentators have noted the hypocrisy of Newt’s carrying on with Callista while actively leading the charge for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Invoking Uncle Sam might help Newt cloak himself in an air of moral superiority, but both politicians appear to have been motivated by the same selfish, power-fueled megalomania. As Clinton explained in a 2004 interview with 60 Minutes about his infamous tryst with Monica Lewinsky: “I think I did something for the worst possible reason-just because I could. I think that’s the most, just about the most morally indefensible reason that anybody could have for doing anything. When you do something just because you could.”

Of course, it’s entirely possible that Newt’s patriotism really did cause his serial infidelity. Here are some possible scenarios of how it could have happened:

-Newt was so exhausted from drafting welfare reform legislation that he collapsed and fell inside Callista’s sensible skirtsuit.
-He confused Callista with an American flag flapping majestically in the wind.

Photograph courtesy Steve Jobs for Getty Images.