By DEXTER DUGGAN
If a good rule is not to make enemies with a politician on his way up, Newt Gingrich may be perceived as headed in that higher direction.
Two Washington sources that
The Wanderer has turned to for comments on other political topics in the past recently declined to speak for publication about Gingrich.
Meanwhile, a candidate on his way up politically may take care about the words he says, lest they trip him into a fall.
Two people who were in positions to arrange an interview with the Republican Gingrich forThe Wanderer both declined to do so when this newspaper indicated that some questions it would ask would note criticisms of the brainy former U.S. House speaker, who issaid to be weighing his own presidential run in 2012.
In addition, the office of a U.S. senator who recently crystallized doubts about Gingrich, Oklahomas Republican Tom Coburn, declined to provide further comment on Coburns thinking about Gingrich when The Wanderer asked.
However, conservative syndicated radio talk host Mike Gallagher described Gingrich as one of the brightest minds in America during a September 14 interview in which Gingrich said he thinks Republicans will have at least 47 to 48 seats in the U.S. Senate after this Novembers elections, with a 50- 50 chance of winning a majority.
The GOP currently has 41 Senate seats.
Many Catholics were pleased when Gingrichs conversion to theCatholic Church was announced last year, as he joined the religious faith of his third wife, Callista. His reputation for marital infidelity was well known, but conversion and repentance are Christian hallmarks.
However, many of those same Catholics were soon perturbed when Gingrich gave his endorsement last fall to left- wing Republican Dede Scozzafava in a special election for a New York congressional seat. Scozzafava, a strong pro- abortionist and supporter of same- sex marriage, was in a three- way race with a Democrat and a Conservative Party nominee. Although conservative activists know that not all candidates may fit perfectly with every item on their agenda, Scozzafava represented a deep rejection of the Catholic moral principles that Gingrich supposedly had chosen to guide his life. Was Gingrich as much a Catholic of convenience as the drearily familiar line of Catholic left- wing Democrats?
Three years ago, reluctance in some quarters to express criticism openly of Gingrich was mentioned in a cover story titled Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong in the April 14, 2007, issue of the evangelical Christian news magazine World.
Its editor, Marvin Olasky, wrote: Former Newtoids would typically speak to World only if I identified them as former close advisers: They cited past loyalties and also concerns about future retribution from a powerful leader. The one who would speak on the record is Vin Weber, a Minnesota congressman from 1981 to 1993 and one of Gingrichs closest allies during that period. Weber is now the managing partner of a Washington lobbying office.
Weber said that Gingrich thinks more deeply of the changes taking place than anybody I know in politics, Olasky wrote in the 2007 article. [He] operates at several levels of depth greater than most politicians. Newt should never not be a major part of the national discussion. But Weber also observed that Gingrichs negative image is not undeserved. He has a tendency to vilify his opposition. Words roll off his tongue - corrupt, sick and stand in the way of his ever becoming a unifying leader.
World said Gingrich owes his rise to his impressive intellect.
Oklahomas well- known Sen. Coburn, who also is a physician, recently commented on various topics including Gingrich during a town hall meeting in Wagoner, Okla., according to a story in the August 28Tulsa World daily newspaper headlined, Coburn rips the left and right alike.
The article, which said Coburn spoke mostly in response to audience questions, said he called out Democrats, Republicans, Newt Gingrich, the military- industrial complex, teachers unions, and Medicare to name a few at a town hall meeting Friday. . . .
Gingrich is a super-smart man, but he doesnt know anything about commitment to marriage, he said of the thrice- married former House speaker, the Tulsa newspaper reported. Hes the last person Id vote for for president of the United States. His life indicates he does not have a commitment to the character traits necessary to be a great president.
When The Wanderer asked for further comment, Coburns communications director, John Hart, replied, Thanks for your request regarding Newt Gingrich. Dr. Coburn has decided to not grant interviews on the subject. Im sorry I cant give you more.
In addition, a different Coburn staff official didnt respond to two
Wanderer e- mails.
Opposes Secular Elites
Gingrich and his wife have been identifying themselves with Catholic and traditionalist concerns, including promoting their recent documentary that they host, Nine Days That Changed the World,
about Pope John Paul IIs nine-day trip to his native Poland in 1979 that began the collapse of European Communist dictatorships and the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The Gingriches showed it during the well- received Mother of Life conference in August that was sponsored at San Diego State Universitys Viejas Arena by the Knights of Columbus.
Catholic News Service reported: In a speech presented with his wife, Callista, Gingrich criticized the secularization of American society, which he said is occurring despite the opposition of a majority of Americans.
The news service said Gingrich told the Southern California conference, with an estimated 1,800 people attending: Our elites fail to recognize the irony that our own courts are as fully antireligious as any institution in the Polish dictatorship, and our elite culture is as frightened of Christ and the cross as any secular group in past radical regimes.
After a Southern California traditional- values activist proposed an interview for The Wanderer
with the Gingriches about the documentary, she declined to arrange it when this newspaper said it wanted to ask Gingrich about adverse comments concerning him as well.
If you would like to interview him and Callista re Nine Days, I can help you, otherwise Im sorry, I cannot, she e- mailed.
The Wanderer subsequently contacted Joe DeSantis, communications director for Gingrich, and said it would like an interview concerning Gingrichs possiblepresidential run and somecurrent criticisms.
After DeSantis requested more information about proposed interview questions and The Wanderer
complied, he responded, I think this interview might be premature. If Newt and Callista decide to run, then lets revisit it. They will say one way or another in February or March.
The multi- tasking idea man Gingrich recently announced the first annual forum and gala in Washington, D. C., of The Americano ( TheAmericano. com), which he launched in September 2009 to share the conservative message with U. S. Hispanics, a fast- growing population segment that liberal Democrats assume belongs to them.
Gingrich said the December 2-3 event will include the former prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar, and California syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr., who often takes a conservative approachbut battles U. S. borderhawks.
If Gingrich can inform more U.S. Hispanics about their compatibility with conservative ideals, he will have accomplished more for traditional moral values thanthe U. S. Catholic bishops Washington bureaucracy seems able or willing to do.
The Meaning Of Repentance
The Wanderer contacted the crisply produced evangelical news magazine World after a Washington- area conservative activist noted the unease that at least some evangelicals feel about supporting Gingrich because of his marital history.
In response, the magazines editor, Olasky, didnt provide an interview but said The Wanderer was free to quote from the 2007 Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong article he wrote. Olasky had written that in a March 2007 radio interview with Focus on the Familys James Dobson, Gingrich affirmed that he knew the meaning of repentance: I believe deeply that people fall short and that people have to recognize that they have to turn to God for forgiveness and to seek mercy. . . . I also believe that there are things in my own life that I have turned to God and have gotten on my knees and prayed about and sought Gods forgiveness.
Noting Gingrichs power at spinning out ideas, Olasky wrote: Wherever Gingrich speaks, people not only listen but think. Late last month he spoke in San Antonio to several thousand contractors at the annual meeting of the Associated General Contractors of America. He spoke about the importance of health- care reimbursement accounts in bringing about market- based health care that could reduce costs by 20% to 40%. He spoke about the need for government agencies to get up to speed technologically. The contractors gave him a standing ovation.
Two years before Gingrich announced his conversion to Catholicism, the World article said he spoke only reluctantly about his own religious beliefs [ to World], stating rightly, Im not running for chief theologian. When pressed, he said he was born a Lutheran, raised as a general Protestant, became a Baptist, married to a Catholic. He describes himself as psychologically a Protestant because of the opportunity to go directly to God, but he likes the depth of the Catholic Church and has gone to Mass with his wife, who sings in the choir, for the past six years, World said.