The Unspeakable Sin

Love that title.

I have just a few minutes to write a start for a more complete post with citations, but I’ve been thinking about this for a long time.

The religious right is handling one issue with kid gloves. It’s a practice clearly condemned in the New Testament, and indefensible with the logic used by religious conservatives– who claim not to understand why we can’t all just stick to the Rule Book.

That issue is divorce.

I’ve often thought that standing up for abortion rights is somewhat like standing up for divorce rights. You’re not enthusiastically pro-divorce, as if everyone should get one. But blocking the exit door to a bad marriage caused so much suffering for so long that over the past few generations more liberal laws have become the norm.

No one would say there is not a cost. Seeing friends and family grieve over failed marriages has left me wondering where these ‘casual divorces’ are happening. Not to anyone I know.

As much as it disturbs my world to see loved ones break up, and as much as I try to support their relationships– I don’t know what happens between them. As a matter of simple respect, I have to acknowledge that an outsider can not fully understand why a marriage works, or doesn’t.

It’s tough on children. So is an unhappy marriage. Children are acutely aware of what is not right in relationships.

About a decade ago there was a move to legalize a more Biblical type of marriage contract, called Covenant Marriage. This was closer to the kind of strict laws of the past, and brought the State more in line with religion.

It failed to catch on. This Moral Majority in its millions did not choose this option over the more liberal laws. Maybe we all have seen enough bad marriages to acknowledge the need, sometimes, to end it.

When a friend says something like, ‘we just went in different directions’, I don’t assume that they broke up casually. I assume that they are keeping some discretion and not pulling out a laundry list of hurts inflicted by someone they loved. I assume that they don’t want to air out issues that might come back to hurt their children. It’s called, ‘privacy’. One consequence of no-fault divorce is that it is not mandatory to assign blame.

This is pretty much how we live in an imperfect world.

I think that divorce is something men can understand, and that’s why the religious right is going after women. Attacking divorce would be unpopular, especially when so many conservative leaders have had divorces. It’s not pure religion, it’s calculated politics.

Talk About Your Bad Bosses

Or maybe he’s just misunderstood. Newt Gingrich’s entire campaign staff quit today.

This doesn’t seem very Republican, walking off the job all at once. It kind of resembles a wildcat strike.

Two aides said Gingrich had refused a request to show a copy of his personal schedule. The aides, speaking only on condition of anonymity, also cited his willingness to give his wife a large role in campaign decisions as a reason for the departures.

While Gingrich told his now-departed aides he would remain in the race, he faces formidable obstacles in assembling a new team in time to compete in a campaign that’s well under way. He has the allegiance of several former aides who served him when he was in Congress, but most if not all of them have moved into other fields.

Most immediately, he is scheduled to participate in a debate next Monday in New Hampshire.

I wonder if this is anything like John and Yoko vs Paul, George and Ringo. Callista might have some really innovative ideas about how Newt should approach the debate, but we are not a culture that appreciates real originality. I still think Yoko is kind of a genius, whether Callista is up to her standard remains to be seen.

Candace, Newt’s half-sister, seems like a nice person, but I don’t think she’ll be canvassing for Newt. Candace is fighting for the right to get married once, whereas some take it for granted that you can get married three times and even get the Church to declare that your first two legally married wives were really just hookups.

Newt’s got more money than God, and he’s sure that God is voting for him, so don’t count him out.

A Few of His Closest Friends

Newt Gingrich must be a very busy man these days. His fund-raising group is selling his personal time to every listing in the Yellow Pages. Who, I wonder, has not been invited to get close to him for a mere few thousand dollars?

But he’s got standards. That’s why he rescinded the invitation he sent to Alison Vivas, when he found out she ran a porn business. (Love for Sale From Politicians).

And his 527 organization has done it again, disinviting the owner of a strip club from the awards dinner she’d paid $5,000 to attend.

Dawn Rizos didn’t need any formal recognition that The Lodge, one of the best-known gentlemen’s clubs in Dallas, was a successful small business.

But when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s conservative group named her an “Entrepreneur of the Year,” she was thrilled by the opportunity to accept the award in Washington and speak about ways to help small businesses.

That all changed, however, when Gingrich realized that The Lodge was a topless bar, not some other business in Virginia. He rescinded Rizos’ invitation to a private dinner and returned the $5,000 donation she made to his group, American Solutions for Winning the Future.

“It was disappointing,” Rizos said. “We were looking forward to sharing our political views with Newt Gingrich.”

Actually, that is so rude to invite, then disinvite someone. And they did it twice. What would Miss Manners say?

Clearly Gingrich is using an organization that does a lousy job of checking out who they beg money from. They must send out tens of thousands of special personal honors and have Newt running from banquet to banquet to greet his new best friends. Funny that he doesn’t have more empathy for people who sell their charm.

Campaign finance reform is a hard sell, because all the people who managed to get elected were able to take advantage of every possible loophole. With so much else going on, this is not the most pressing issue. But the future calls. Though it’s too late to make an honest man out of Newt, we have to do it for the children.

Update– I might have been too easy on Newt. Daily Kos has specifics on how Gingrich and some of his Republican allies flood the professional world with honors and invitations, sometimes mistaken by the recipients as something other than a mass mailing fundraising tool. I have to say that I’m hurt that they’ve neglected to name me ‘nurse of the year’ and they’ll pay for it at the voting booth.

Love for Sale from Politicians

It actually could have happened to almost any politician, but it’s funny that Newt Gingrich’s friends made an offer of intimacy with Newt for money–to the owner of a porn business.

Newt Gingrich’s 527 group sent a letter to porn exec Allison Vivas Wednesday telling her she’d won their “Entrepreneur of the Year” award and inviting her to an “intimate event” with Gingrich.

“You’ll dine privately with Newt,” it reads. A handwritten addendum reads, “Newt is looking forward to finally meeting you face to face — and get your thoughts on cap and trade and Obama’s tax policy.”

Allison’s reply was rather witty, you can read it here…

We not only expect politicians to be all things to all people–we accept that the high price of access to media guarantees that we’ll continue to have billionaires running for office and entertainers getting elected.

How would we make an honest man out of Newt? Well, let me rephrase that–how do we temper the impact of money in politics?

Today, especially with the net, there are infinite layers of mis-identification between the politician and the supporters who put up the big cash. Now, more than ever, we need campaign finance reform. And a vigilant press, so that the intimate details of the deals politicians make to get elected will be exposed. That might even sell papers.