It has been fascinating on many levels to watch the progress of the Republican presidential nominating process. For awhile, it was fun to speculate about who would be the new front runner of the week as they struggled to find someone - anyone - who was not Romney and who might have a possibility of destroying the hated Obama in the fall election. Now that the field has been winnowed down to, essentially, two more or less viable candidates, the whole thing has become a little less exciting and more predictable.
Still, one thing continues to fascinate and amaze and that is the level of support which Newt Gingrich has garnered among the righteously evangelical voters. This was, of course, particularly on display in South Carolina, where those who said that "family values" and social conservatism were the determining factors in their votes actually voted for a womanizing serial philanderer who has betrayed the marriage vows he made to at least two women. As for that third marriage that was contracted with Callista after several years of her serving as his mistress, has he been faithful to those vows? I wouldn't want to bet the farm on it.
In addition to being a serial philanderer and breaker of marriage vows, Gingrich is a serial hypocrite. The most famous example of his hypocrisy is his railing against Bill Clinton for carrying on an affair while he was in the White House. Gingrich thought he deserved impeachment for that, but during the time that he was trying to destroy Clinton, he was carrying on his affair with Callista (and possibly others) while he was married to his second wife. Whom he had married after having an affair with her while married to his first wife. All the while he was righteously spouting about preserving and protecting "family values."
Newt thinks he's a very smart man, smarter than everybody else, and that he should not be held to the same standards as ordinary people. But what would lead self-proclaimed evangelical Christians, who surely would frown on such a sexual history if it belonged to a Democrat, to enthusiastically support this man? Probably because he serves up red meat hatred and racism which, frankly, seems to appeal to this particular style of Christian.
One sees and hears political pundits refusing to pin the label of racist on Newt. They will say that he's just engaging in dog-whistle politics to fire up his base. Well, I grew up in the South as Newt did, and I can tell you that if it talks like a racist, acts like a racist, and advocates policies that are on their face racist, it is a racist.
The latest polls from Florida seem to indicate that Newt's schtick isn't playing quite as well there as it did in South Carolina. In fact, it seems that he may lose badly in tomorrow's primary. If so, the Republican nominating process will certainly have lost some of its color and entertainment value, although I feel sure that Ron Paul will soldier on to the end and do his best to continue to provide interest. Once the Newt-tron bomb has exploded though, it may be hard to continue to focus on these essentially colorless and boring candidates.