Friday, January 20, 2012

He Rises for the National Anthem

It requires no great native intellect to figure out that if the excuse you've proffered your wife for your adultery didn't work on her, it probably won't work with more than, say, a few million of the Republican faithful old enough to vote. Newt Gingrich was led to cheat on his second wife with his third-wife-to-be, the hapless victim of a supererogatory patriotism. Newt has explained time and again to an aggrieved ex-wife and numberless interviewers that, “There’s no question, at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

Well, he's correct - there's no question that "not appropriate" things happened. When things happen, of course, we're always invited to take the generous view and suppose that whatever happened was not entirely within another's power to prevent happening, and that by itself is as good as not having done anything, really - the thing, I mean, which admittedly did happen.You have to hand it to him - he carries his own baggage where everyone can see it.

Let's try this out. Suppose a fellow comes home late from work, suspiciously tardy on yet another evening. He's confronted by an angry and skeptical wife who asks him where the hell he's been all this time. The obvious answer, the one that he'll probably try on first, is that he had to work late. It's plausible, it might just work one more time. Maybe she's not buying it any longer - the scent of another woman, two ticket stubs in his pocket to an anime movie she never saw, a $30,000 Tiffany charge she doesn't recall, any number of little things that an intimate who can add two and two will turn into evidence for the prosecution.

  "Miss me, dear?"

In the circumstance, it would be immediately clear to the normal adulterer that some extenuating considerations must be floated - she doesn't mean anything to me, it's the only time I've ever, it's really you I love, I've been such a cad. Admittedly all pretty weak, calculated to have a cumulative and long-term palliation rather than immediate alleviation of the discomfort. And these have been proven to work sometimes.

To his credit, though, Newt avoided the cliche, probably not caring to extricate himself, failing to see any transgression, constitutionally incapable of employing any tactic save pure effrontery. Basically he told the aggrieved Mrs. Gingrich II that he was having an affair because he had to work late, not that he was working late because he was having an affair. It was his own recognition of his value to a grateful nation, a nation he felt "passionately" about, that occasioned his fall from grace. If Newt's real passion was his country, then it seems any reasonable woman should have said, "Oh, well - that's all right, then."

Obviously she didn't say that. And from there, I can only imagine what ensued . . .

"What's the bitch's name?"

"For reasons of national security I'm not at liberty to say."

"National security - or personal security?"

"I don't see those as distinct. It's a weird name, anyway."

"'Weird' how? - you mean weird like Squeaky? or weird like Conestoga?"

"You know, this really shouldn't be a big deal. Why can't you be more . . . European about this?"

"European about what? I thought Europeans were socialists."

"Well, indeed they are, but I just mean civilized. Why can't you just be open and accepting, like a woman with some culture would be? 'European' in its most positive sense."

"Meaning . . . ? What is it I'm accepting - you screwing around with some tart?"

"If you wish to put it that way. 'European,' when it doesn't mean 'socialist,' means that the man in a relationship gets to carry on and it's none of the wife's business. An open marriage, if you like."

"And what about me? How about I start banging John Boehner's golf caddy?"

"Not on your life. You make everything about you. Where did you learn that kind of talk, anyway? This isn't about you, it's bigger than both of us - it's about my patriotism, which you obviously can't or won't share. It's about my love for my country. I've worked hard to make America a better place for . . . us. I'm passionate about this great nation - I suppose you could say my passion overflowed its cup, but what could be the fault in that? I can't help it, I'm the kind of man who rises when I hear the national anthem. I'm leaving you for the Star Spangled Banner."

"That one works too."

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