Here’s the Nonsense: If we just get a politician to sign a pledge then we can be sure where they stand.
Here’s the Horse Sense: Politicians sign things, make promises, and do everything they can to get us to believe them. But the fact is that those promises can be broken just like any other. The real way to determine how serious someone is about change in their life is to see if their actions have changed over an extended period of time.
Newt Gingrich is getting hammered by foes and “friends” alike because of his marital infidelity in the past. And he should be held accountable for those mistakes. But an Iowa conservative group getting him to sign a pledge to marital fidelity really means nothing when you get right down to it. If a person will break the vow they made before God to their spouse then signing something for someone else is useless.
The fact is that the only way to tell if Newt is serious about change in his life is to watch and see what he’s done. He’s had many years to prove whether he’s serious about it. He has made numerous changes in his life. He says he’s become religious and joined the Catholic Church where he has sought God’s forgiveness for his past failures. He’s been open to questions and criticism about his failures. He’s shown many years of faithfulness to his current wife.
If we’re going to judge him based on something, we’d be far better off looking at his track record since he’s made these changes in his life rather than to have him sign a piece of paper today.
Certainly it’s fine to have someone sign something, but to use it to judge them instead of the evidence of their life is ridiculous. No one is perfect. We all fail. The issue isn’t whether someone failed. It’s what they did after that failure that matters. From all we can see, Mr. Gingrich has been a solid and faithful husband and family man since then. Now we have to decide if we’re going to believe it.
And before you make a final decision about whether to believe him, ask yourself if you’ve ever done something wrong. Have you ever lied? Have you ever been dishonest about something? If your answer is no, then you’re lying right now.
Since you lied have you changed your behavior? Let’s assume that 17 years ago you lied about something. Once you’d apologized for it and sought forgiveness, would you expect to have that held against you forever? Would you think it is right that almost two decades later you were still being judged by a mistake you made, especially when you had worked hard to change that behavior?
That’s what people are expecting of Newt Gingrich. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. All evidence that we can see tells us he is a changed man. The evidence tells us he deserves to put the past behind him.
Does that mean he deserves your support for his candidacy? No. That’s a separate discussion. But the decision about supporting his candidacy should not be clouded by old mistakes that he’s shown evidence of correcting in his life. The decision whether to support him should be based on his position on the issues, his success at supporting conservative causes, and his ability to lead.