Things Americans Would Rather Think About Than Newt Gingrich’s Open Marriage:
-- The inevitability of death, loss.
-- Rick Perry’s policy positions.
-- Favorite dogs being hit by trucks
-- The possibility that the universe is totally indifferent to human suffering
-- Abnormally shaped moles
-- Ugly cats
-- Ill barnyard animals
Look, my point is, this is a topic somewhere on the totem pole above Your Own Parents Getting Sexy, but not much above.
I understand, in theory, that the sex lives of Republican presidential candidates are our business because they make everyone else’s sex lives their business, and by the transitive property of making someone’s sex life your business, this sort of thing happens.
I understand, in theory, that your ex-wife can show up the week of a critical primary and force Americans to think about your sex life in what is either Cruel, Cold Revenge or a Critical Policy Point That Americans Need To Hear About, depending whom you ask.
But — ugh.
This whole thing disgusts me. The only thing worse than hearing Newt Gingrich talk about his own sex life — ‘I did it for America!’ — is hearing anyone else do it. I realize that he brought this on himself, that it probably serves him right, but look, I am irate at anyone who forces me to think, even for a moment, about Newt Gingrich’s sex life. It seems cruel.
Somerset Maugham noted that “There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.” And no doubt Gingrich’s will (or has) as well. The best part of the interview is that Marianne Gingrich says she makes a point of showing support for his policy positions, as though those were the positions anyone cared about.
We are all prurient prudes, and when we hear that Gingrich wanted a divorce or an open marriage, we gasp and lean closer — even though there is nothing we’d less like to think about than Newt Gingrich having an open anything. Gingrich has so many policy ideas, and he would love to talk about those instead. But so much for policy. This is infinitely more titillating. It won’t create jobs, but it’ll allow us to pretend we’re talking about politics when we’re really talking about sex. And it’s been happening as long as American politics has, since the days when people passed around hushed pamphlets about what Thomas Jefferson was really doing with that Miss Hemings.
Still — ugh.