Back in August, I posted about Newt Gingrich, his conversion to Catholicism, and his pontificating on various moral issues of the day even as he battles questions about his own moral failings.

The New York Times yestrday offered a profile on Gingrich's faith and politicking, which is receiving renewed scrutiny as the former Speaker of the House is expected to announce a bid for the presidency, perhaps as early as this week.

From the article:

So as he travels the country, he is striking two related notes: that the nation faces not just a fiscal crisis but also a loss of its moral foundation, and that his conversion to Catholicism two years ago is part of an evolution that has given him a deeper appreciation for the role of faith in public life.

On a recent winter night here, Mr. Gingrich, 67, stood on stage at a Catholic school with his wife, Callista, and introduced a film they produced about the role Pope John Paul II played in the fall of Communism in Poland. As Mr. Gingrich looked out over a crowd of 1,300 people, he warned that the United States had become too secular a society.

“To a surprising degree, we are in a situation similar to Poland’s in 1979,” he told the audience, which had gathered at a banquet for Ohio Right to Life, one of the nation’s oldest anti-abortion groups. “In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life.”

Read the full article here.

Comments

gail barry | 3/15/2011 - 7:35am
''At least Gingrich has the Catholic Church to cite........'' [#5 Mark H.].  Cite, smite-let's tack on Rudy as Veep.  Heavens, we haven't had such a serial shredding of the 7th Sacrament since Henry VIII was sitting in our pews!!!  Rev. Wright is ''an odious racist?'' [#5].  On the contrary, he's a clear-eyed preacher. His ''sin'' was in causing the American public some temporary discomfort. It was the jaundiced misogyny of Fr. Pfleger (another denominational embarrassment) that should have made voters wince.  But didn't.

Where's Killoran when we need him?  I think it's downright uplifting that youse guys are supporting the Jesuits by subscribing to America but hey, you'd be happy as clams over at First Things with George Weigel, our lapsed seminarian turned pundit, who petuantly speculated whether Fr. Adolfo Nicholas, at the time of his 2008 election, ''will demand that Jesuits observe their vows of chastity?''  Gee, I dunno, George.  Is the Pope Catholic?    
Anonymous | 3/2/2011 - 3:32pm
Fortunately Tom Coburn has some good sense about Newt as well.  A little harder to cast him as another RINO Nelson Rockefeller softie!

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/eye-on-2012/tom-coburn-suggests-newt-gingr.html?wprss=thefix
Marie Rehbein | 3/2/2011 - 3:07pm
David, I probably didn't do the book justice in my synopsis.  The title of the book is Rich, Free, and Miserable: The Failure of Success in America by Skidmore professor John Brueggemann.  He isn't condemning doing what is necessary to survive at all, and he's not quite bemoaning people having their personal priorities directed to sacrificing long term security for immediate reward, though I think he might say that too many people may be making poor choices of that nature because they are applying market reasoning.  I no longer have the book available to me, so I would prefer not to try to explain his point. 
Anonymous | 3/1/2011 - 5:35pm
Hey Marie,

I think we are actually on the same page here.   Public policy certainly does have a big impact these days and I think that we would both agree again on the Catholic idea of subsidarity in the application of these policies.

 
JIM MCCREA | 3/1/2011 - 3:05pm
I love it:  a serial monogamist preaching about morality.  What's next:  a convicted pedophile telling us how to look after our kids?
Marie Rehbein | 3/1/2011 - 11:49am
Brett,

I agree that morality cannot be legislated directly, but (like JR Cosgrove says from time to time) moral thinking is modified by public policies.  It's a side-effect that the welfare system rewarded the creation of single-parent households, for example.

Since it does seem possible to impact moral choices by rewarding, monetarily, certain social behaviors, maybe the time has come to analyze the social impact policies have.  Maybe instead of encouraging the creation of single-parent households, for example, an effort should be made to make dual-parent households with one stay-at-home parent financially rewarding.  It might reduce crime and have other positive social impact.  The problem with it would be pay-back; someone in power needs to see a financial return on that or it will be considered waste I think.
Anonymous | 3/1/2011 - 10:28am
"In this day of age Gingrich personal relationships of twenty and thirty years ago are not disqualifying.   After Bill Clinton the standards of all public offices have been lowered to exclude most personal behavior that is not illegal."

A VERY strange day indeed when a social conservative is arguing that Bill Clinton has set the moral standards today, so we should adopt a low standard & ignore a serial adulterer with a penchant for egotism just because he speaks loud and is really smart.  I suppose you take the same view of Gov. Cuomo's "irregular" relationship with his live-in girlfriend?
Marie Rehbein | 3/1/2011 - 9:17am
David,

The book I read was much more encompassing, of course, but in a nutshell, the marketplace thinking involves placing value on only those things that can be measured in terms of money or the things money buys.  This means that if you value your relationships, for example, but are offered a promotion with relocation and increased income, the judgment upon you should you decline it and fall on hard times soon after is that you chose to be a failure.  Of course, many people do put relationships ahead of prestige at the office, but it's not supported by our culture.  Basically, the majority of things that people value that are not monetary and measurable are rarely considered in making public policy and, more and more, individuals are making personal choices using the same limited criteria.

Brett, I just started ready the blog you cite, but cannot give it my full attention at the moment.  I will comment more later.
Tom Maher | 3/1/2011 - 1:09am
Let's not forget the vulnerability of the Obama admisistration.  Almost any candidate would be in a great position to focus on the many undistiguished aspects of the Obama admisistration.

Call it political or cultural or whatever the Obama admisistration can be cast as non-functioning in terms of improving the economy and lowering the debt.  And the things it did achieve such as the new healthcare law a majority of people do not favor.

Gingrich better than anyone could crticize the Obama administration nonstop and with great effect.  Many people are calling the Obama administartion , Jimmy Carter 2.0, meaning most poliies are being done very poorly and could be vastly improved.  Gingrich would know how to very effectively become a better alternative to the Obma's administration's economic policy failuresand debt problem. Obama can be defeated just the way Jimmy Carter was defeated. 
Anonymous | 3/1/2011 - 12:23am
There has been a lot that Gingrich said while he was speaker that impressed me as a thinker.  But his personal life shows that he 1) has shown poor judgment and hypocrisy at multiple times in his life and 2) has way too much baggage to be elected.  If the Democrats and media want to win the next elections, root for Gingrich.  He is a great speaker but too many people would have to hold their nose to vote for him.  So my guess is that he hasn't much of a chance which would suit me.  Like Sarah Palin, he can do more good not in office.


Daniels is anything but a wimp.  His problem and it is serious is that he is only 5' 7''.  He rides his motorcycle all over Indiana and broke the unions and got rid of collective bargaining in Indiana.  It is now a state with budget surpluses and he knows the federal government backwards and forward and he was the Budget Director under GW for four years.  He also worked in Reagan White House and then was a young hot shot politcal operator guiding elections.


Given the current problems we have he knows as much about government spending as Paul Ryan and has a track record of enforcing limited government.  Based on my look so far, he is the best the Republicans can field.  He is a proven manager who knows the system backwards and forwards.  Like nearly everyone else he has little foreign experience.  
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 11:18pm
I agree with you Marie, but it is not simply the ideology of the marketplace - it is the ideology of unquestioned individualism that is the problem. 

The Dems call for individualistic and libertine sexual policies that are negative to family life and tradition (abortion, gay marriage etc.) - while the Republicans call for libertine economic values (neg. effects of unquestioned globalization) that are also destroying tradition and local communities.

We need a Catholic center party that calls for limits on the individual for the common good. The government can play a part in creating policies that promote this type of holistic approach - just not the government we currently have.

Here is the great Patrick Deneen of G-town on "legislating morality":
http://patrickdeneen.blogspot.com/2008/10/legislating-morality.html
Justin Melkus | 2/28/2011 - 11:11pm
I have never seen any statements from Newt or the media regarding whether his previous marriages have been annulled and thus whether his current marriage is valid according to the church.  If that is not the case and he is not treating his current marriage accordingly (to put it delicately), isn't that an issue for the church in terms of scandal, communion, etc.?
Marie Rehbein | 2/28/2011 - 10:13pm
"The problem isn't political, but cultural."


This is my point.  It's not likely that electing as President a cranky person who criticizes the culture will lead to cultural change. 

I recently read a book that said that marketplace thinking has infilitrated our culture and dictates our values now.  I tend to agree.

Tom Maher | 2/28/2011 - 6:39pm
Jeff # 19

I saw Mitch Daniels being interviewed on a Sunday morning weekly news show. Daniels seems like a nice, decent  unoffensive, mild mannered church-going type who would be great corporate guy where if anything went wong he could call corporate secuity and everything would be fine.  I'm sure they love him in Indiana.

But this is the presidency we are taking about.  Someone with a far more forceful and assertive personality is needed.  Someone quite a bit more edgy and who could be downright rude and obnoxious if need be in dealing with the Chinses, the Russians, the Iranians, terrorist and Congress and anyone else effectively and promptly.  I do not believe Mitch Daniels' niceness could provide the country with the hardened  leadership that would be needed all the time.

Dnaiels'wish for a truce on discussion of social concerns sounds like he is a confirmed conflict avoider.  The Presidency however is high stress, high pressure and full of conflicts where there is no place to hide.  Mitch Daniels is the wrong guy for the job and he does not add anything to the Presidential debate in his desire to avoid conflicts.  

In this day of age Gingrich personal relationships of twenty and thirty years ago are not disqualifying.   After Bill Clinton the standards of all public offices have been lowered to exclude most personal behavior that is not illegal.

Gingrich has the intellectual ability,vision and fortitude to be in command at all times .  And he has from his political expereince, lectures and writtings and numerous interviews an unusual grasp of  American political issues, instutions and realities.   He is a plausiblle candidate among other plausible cadidates.  And being a part of the presidential debates will bring many important issues and approaches into the discussion. 

I would not get fatalistic.  If the voters do not like what he has to say they will reject him.  But he is capable of giving a very strong debate performance that many may find they agree with.  He could demonstrate in a debate his clear ability and credibility.  I have been impressed with the wealth and depth of his knowledge and insight on all issues facing America.  Gengrich can not be so easily dismissed.  There are too few people with his extensive political leadership experience.
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 4:49pm
Well if you're comfortable putting your trust to express "people [sic] social concerns" in a man who's been married 3x's, 2 of his wives he committed adultery with, over a man who is quiter, but more effective, more power to you.  I hope you're a happy warrior being in the minority party for generations.  I'm sure you'll get to listen to a lot of speakers tell you what you want to hear, but unable to do anything about it.
Tom Maher | 2/28/2011 - 4:25pm
Jeff # 15


Well I'm glad to see you got my message and are take this potential-candidate review as seriously as I do.   Remember though that no one has annouced that they are running yet for the Republican presidential nominee.

I can't help but remeber how Governor Howard Dean began 2004 as the unquestioned Democratic front runner for presidential nomination.  For more than a year Dean was repeatedly on the cover of Time magazine and Newsweek.  I remeber in late December 2003 Bill O'Reilly of Fox News saying to Senator John Kerry who had just entered the race very late that he, Kerry, had no chance of overtaking Dean. 

History shows that the year-long favorite with the media, Howard Dean, went nowhere..  Dean lost every race but his home state of Vermont.  Democratic voters decided very differently than the media  who should be the party's nominee. Funny things happen when real-life people vote. 

Expecting people not to express their social concerns as Daniels does is hoplessly unrealistic.   Gingrich embrace of people social concerns will likely be very effective.  Accordingly peoples social concerns will likely be very big part of the Republican primaries as they should be. 
ed gleason | 2/28/2011 - 3:38pm
Tom Maher... 'Gingrich understands, like a good lawyer" beside not being a lawyer he has no ethical principles , either financial or family..so what does he have?... answer is ambition..presently he is selling sample gavels at a very high price ..   
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 2:49pm
"Conservative do not want to have another Nelson Rockerfeller working against them from within the Republican party."

This is foolishness on stilts, and why if you're position wins, the GOP may not regain the White House for many years.  Look at the pro-life laws Daniels has signed into law in Indiana; he is hardly Nelson Rockefeller!  Some conservatives prefer men and women of conviction who stand on their actions over the shouts and screams of those who say one thing, but apparently live their lives by another standard.  Unfortunately, until some social conservatives come to appreciate the same thing instead of supporting those who scream loudly for their affection, their message will be ignored.  As long as Newt and Rush are leading the charge, there will be a disconnect.
Tom Maher | 2/28/2011 - 1:58pm
Brett #9,
Jeff #8,
Beth #3,

Well good for you Brett.  Home run again.   It has been tried  but social conservatism can not be separated from fiscal conservatism.   This separation was the Republican party before Reagan came along.  But if anyone has been paying attention it takes social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and national security conservative to win and win very big Republican victories.  Anything less does not do the job.  Each by itself has too much oppossition to overcome.  So we are talking practicle politics.

Practicle is what Gngrich does best.  He really does nto pretend to be a moralizer.    Beth is right he is not a holy-roller.  Is he a creep?  No. Gingrich is a highly skilled professional political advocate.  Gingrich understands, like a good lawyer would, that  tens of millions of social  conservative want their beleifs represented and defended.  And he is available for that.  Is that creepy?  No. These people's voices deserve  to be heard as part of the political process.   And let's not forget what this is all about: Social conservatives vot in v ery large numbers.

Mitch Daniels is brilliant and capable guy with many achievements.  But he is badly out of touch in his advocacy of a "truce" on social conservative causes.  Let me not bore you on how many ways he is mistaken.

Conservatives however have noticed Mitch Daniels' remarks and have strongly objected to them.  Very strange Mr. Daniels did not picked these objections up and actually repeated his "truce" ideas. Can people just turn off deeply held beliefs? Or some people's beliefs not important enough to be heard?  Mitch Dnaiels has made himself unacceptable to conservative by his remarks.  Conservative do not want to have another Nelson Rockerfeller working against them from within the Republican party. 
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 1:21pm
"I would only add that the power of the financial elite (Wall Street, corporate and bank CEOs) dwarfs that of the cultural elite."

There is increasingly no meaningful difference between the two (all though to speak of i all "corporate and bank CEOs" as if they were a homogenous group is totally inaccurate).
William Kurtz | 2/28/2011 - 12:42pm
I would only add that the power of the financial elite (Wall Street, corporate and bank CEOs) dwarfs that of the cultural elite. How many Americans rage at the cultural elite (which has little power), but submit like lambs to the wishes of the financial elite?
Their power is proven by the timidity of their supposed enemies, Democrats and liberals.     
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 12:32pm
"There is no "truce" because fiscal and social conservatism are intimately connected - i.e. you cannot have a healthy state with out having healthy families, churches and other mediating institutions as the foundation. "

I agree; but the social conservatives would be better served by a mild mannered proven leader than a fire breathing "true believer" albeit one with 3 marriages.  Do you not realize that many Americans look at the lives of people like Newt and roll their eyes consequently at the message? 

Huckabee is another Bush - good talking "big government" conservative.
Marie Rehbein | 2/28/2011 - 12:07pm
Brett says the cultural elite are "Media heads (tv + movies), academics, pundits/critics of the major papers".  Tom says they are "judges and other legal activist[s]".  And, Newt says, "religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life".

So, what is the solution, if this is a problem, and these are the trouble-makers?

Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 11:56am
"I'm afraid the arrogance of the "social conservative movement" however won't let them see past the "truce" Daniels suggested"

There is no "truce" because fiscal and social conservatism are intimately connected - i.e. you cannot have a healthy state with out having healthy families, churches and other mediating institutions as the foundation. 

A well ordered society does not come from the top down; nothing arrogant about that.

I think that a Chris Christie or a Huckabee would be interesting.

Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 11:43am
Newt is a disastrous candidate, not to mention a creep.  He is brilliant (some of his ideas would shock liberals in a good way I think).  Unfortunately he also has a bigger ego than Obama.  We need an accomplished executive from the statehouses, someone with heft and some humility.  We need Mitch Daniels.  I'm afraid the arrogance of the "social conservative movement" however won't let them see past the "truce" Daniels suggested, which is funny because they seem more than willing to see past three marriages, 2 of which the result of adultery.
Tom Maher | 2/28/2011 - 11:42am
Marie,

Let me help you out about who might be a "cultural elite".  Where to start?

Oh let see now how about those black robed wonders ( i.e.judges and other legal activist not Jesuits)  who sit on courts and bring lawsuits that find constitutional and other right of all sorts that no one has ever heard of, discussed or agreed to or otherwise have major majority opposed to?  For example the other day some judge declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was law for at least 15 years to be unconstitutional.  Who would have known or suspected ?  President Obama and Attorney General Eric Hoder (you know them)  dispite their duty under the Constitution to defend enacted laws so there is a public hearing on all issues decided on their own that the judge was all-wise and knowing so they will not appeal the judges ruling.  Won't their political consitutuants be so pleased? 

This is legislation from the bench, a very elitist process going on for decades.

To his credit Gingrich has spoke very forcefully agaisnt this type of elitism and disregard for the public will.? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 11:30am
Cultural elite is pretty easy: Media heads (tv + movies), academics, pundits/critics of the major papers.
Mark Harden | 2/28/2011 - 11:24am
"Why do I get the feeling that Newt Gingrich (and others) use their religious affiliation as a label and tool to further their political aspirations?"

"Others" including Barack Obama and his 20-year mentor, Jeremiah Wright. At least Gingrich has the Catholic Church to cite, and not an odious racist like Jeremiah Wright. Gingrich is also less likely to hypocritically toss the Church under the bus as Obama did to Wright when Wright's horrendous views came to light.
Marie Rehbein | 2/28/2011 - 10:52am
Could we have some names as to who constitutes the "cultural elite"? 
Beth Cioffoletti | 2/28/2011 - 8:14am
Why do I get the feeling that Newt Gingrich (and others) use their religious affiliation as a label and tool to further their political aspirations?  Why does this bother me?
Anonymous | 2/28/2011 - 1:25am
I'm not sure about Gingrich as a candidate, but this statement is dead on:

“In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life.”
Tom Maher | 2/28/2011 - 12:04am
Don't underestimate Newt Gingrich.  He is a proven leader of unusual accomplishment. 
Gingrich was the architect of the 1994 "Contract with America" campaign  which proved to be very appealing to Amreican voters and demonstrated his great organizing and leadership ability.

2012 will be very much like 1994.  Gingrich could bring these same ideas, organizing abilities and leadership abilities to the Presidential campaign.  Gingrich's broad policy ideas were always better suited for a President than for a Speaker of the House. As President, Gingrich could more easily set new policy directions and implement his big ideas.  His ideas, vision and grasp of what needs to be done are very credible and well suited for the Presidency.  He should be a formidable force in the 2012 presidencial primaries.
ed gleason | 2/28/2011 - 3:24pm
Evangelicals and fundamentalists have no problem with Newt's three marriages because they have more multiple marriages than other groups. But They will no abide his Catholic conversion. That leaves him with 2% of the Iowa vote and having to hitchhike back to Georgia..You 'guys' Better come up with more viable candidates or we could  skip the election and use the money on the deficit.. (: