Among the first lessons a young baseball player learns is the importance of getting on base. As his skills improve he learns the various methods for accomplishing that task. One of those ways is to get hit by a pitch. It’s an effective, albeit painful way to reach base. That’s why a hit-by-pitch is called “taking one for the team.” 

Newt Gingrich must’ve played a little ball in his day, mastering the art of getting on base and carrying that proficiency into adulthood. During his political career Newt has done everything necessary to put America first, and he’s definitely reached base. 

Gingrich’s adventures in Adulteryland are fairly well chronicled. He cheated on two sick wives, divorcing them both before marrying the mistresses. But how can we blame him for his Clinton-like escapades when he did it all for us? During an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network the probable 2012 presidential candidate blamed his indiscretions on his passion for America. He was stressed; the affairs helped him perform at his best. 

So Newt took one (maybe more?) for the team. But you won’t find stitch marks on his forearms or the name “Rawlings” imprinted on his back. Indulging one’s carnal pleasures isn’t exactly taking an Aroldis Chapman fastball between the numbers. 

In the same interview Gingrich sought God’s forgiveness, and presumably the public’s, too. Strange as it sounds, he’s right. God will forgive the repentant: you, me, and Newt Gingrich. However, a vital element in absolution is realizing that forgiveness grants no right to continue wallowing in failure or to avoid the consequences of one’s actions. 

Conservatives weren’t eager to hear Bill Clinton’s lame explanations for his bimbo eruptions, especially the Lewinsky episode, nor were his shameless lies dismissed with impunity. Sure, Clinton remained president. But he paid a price in public ridicule and confirmed his reputation as a manipulative womanizer. John Edwards also earned mockery for his affair with Rielle Hunter. 

Democrats can’t make an issue of Gingrich’s trysts; they set the bar low when they excused Clinton’s philandering. But are Republicans themselves ready to overlook Newt Gingrich’s affairs when they so readily condemned Clinton and Edwards? Or should the GOP choose a candidate who strikes a positive image, one that commands respect and breeds trust? 

There’s no question that Newt Gingrich espouses solid positions on a host of issues. He is experienced, savvy, and an expert communicator. However, this matter goes beyond personal failures, which everyone experiences. It’s about respect for the voter’s intelligence. Gingrich will be hard pressed to sell conservatives the insulting notion that his adulteries resulted from patriotism. To resurrect a favored conservative phrase from the Clinton years, “we should expect more from a president.” 

Personally, I hope Newt has made peace with God. Gingrich would make a fine cabinet member in a future GOP administration. But blaming his failures on a passion for America sounds childish if not a little loopy. Maybe during his playing days (baseball that is) he took one for the team while he wasn’t wearing a batting helmet.