There is a disturbing nexus between Sunday’s news that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, is leaving Congress and Marianne Gingrich’s ABC interview last Thursday about her ex-husband’s character.
Just a year ago, conservatives were justifiably angered that they were, without any evidence, being blamed by many in the liberal media for Jared Loughner’s attempted assassination of Giffords and the deaths of six others in the same tragedy.
Newt Gingrich unleashed his fury at those making the accusation: “People who on the left have every possible incentive to never allow anyone to draw conclusions, suddenly say things that are just factually untrue…. This person was apparently by any reasonable standard deranged.”
Yet Gingrich himself has a long history of similarly abusing the political left, blaming liberals for the actions of mentally deranged killers. He did it after the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, blaming that massacre on the “situation ethics” created by liberals.
He did it in 1994 when a woman named Susan Smith deliberately drowned her two sons by submerging her car in a lake: Gingrich said it just showed “how sick the society is” and he said the solution was to “vote Republican.”
And, in a prepared speech rather than off the cuff – in other words, with malice aforethought – Gingrich, shortly after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, blamed the left for that evil rampage as well.
He did it, in a speech full of references to the importance of traditional values, one day after telling his then-wife Marianne about his six-year affair with present-wife Callista – and one day before he allegedly asked Marianne for an open marriage.
Obviously, it is just as wrong to blame political liberals for murders committed by “deranged” persons, as it is to blame conservatives. For Gingrich, however, a killer’s derangement is reason to absolve the right but no reason not to accuse the left.
In his speech on May 12, 1999, to a group of Republican women in Erie, Penn., Gingrich said:
“I want to say to the elite of this country – the elite news media, liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite – I accuse you in Littleton … [of] being afraid to take responsibility for the things you have done …. How did this great country filled with good people who do amazing things allow it to be degenerated to a point when young boys could think such weird perverse thoughts and then act on them? …. [Because] we have had a 35-year experiment in a unionized, bureaucratic, credentialed, secular assault on the core values of this country. We should not be surprised that eventually they yield bad fruit because they are bad seeds.”
But the liberal culture didn’t create the Columbine killers any more than talk radio caused Loughner to shoot Giffords and others in Tucson. As USA Today quoted psychologist Peter Langman from his book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.”
Yet Gingrich in his speech directly blamed liberal culture, and the lack of moral values generally, for the rampage – one day after calling his wife at his mother’s birthday party to demand divorce so he could marry his mistress.
These self-contradictions are not just some former character trait that a redeemed Gingrich has shed. Within the past year, Gingrich has called Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget “right wing social engineering,” then denied he was referring to Ryan’s plan, then apologized.
He has endorsed a “variation” of an individual health-insurance mandate that he advocated for 18 years and then said he is against all such mandates; he angrily demanded American intervention in Libya until President Obama intervened, at which time Gingrich angrily criticized the intervention.
Finally, in the past few months he has praised Mitt Romney’s business record at Bain Capital, then attacked Bain from the left, then said he regretted the attack, and then attacked Bain again more vociferously and from even further leftward. All of which makes Gingrich’s principles appear as malleable as clay explosives.
“When I did things that were wrong,” Gingrich told CBN’s David Brody last year, “I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them.”
He still hasn’t stopped.
Quin Hillyer is a senior fellow with the Center for Individual Freedom and a senior editor with The American Spectator.