Ever since Newt Gingrich decided to throw his hat into the GOP presidential ring earlier this year, religious conservatives have questioned whether the former Speaker of the House is the man to receive the Republican nomination. Now that Gingrich has shot up in the polls as the new conservative flavor-of-the-month, Democrats, as well some Republicans, have spoken out about Gingrich's questionable past and inconsistent policy positions.
On Tuesday, Gingrich's former Republican colleague in the U.S. House of Representatives, Guy Molinari, surpassed the criticism of even some of the staunchest liberals when he simply told Staten Island Live that Gingrich is an evil person.
While he certainly doesn't compare to individuals that we typically identify evil with -- say Adolf Hitler, or Vladimir the Impaler -- Gingrich has certainly taken several positions that imply that he may be a force to be reckoned with... and not in a good way.
1. Believes in the sanctity of marriage (discrimination).
As anyone who has paid five minutes of attention to Gingrich's career probably knows, the stalwart Republican is not exactly the family values candidate he claims to be. Gingrich is firmly against legalizing same-sex marriage, switching between arguing that it tarnishes the sanctity of marriage and implying it is a front for a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us.
As Gingrich's critics have excitedly pointed out since he joined the Republican race, the former Speaker -- who also believes gay marriage is a threat to anyone who believes in traditional religion -- has repeatedly proven that he does not hold a high regard for the vows of marriage he has painstakingly defended. The former Speaker notoriously had an affair with the woman who would become his second wife while his first was battling cancer in the early 1980s. Afterward, he also cheated on his second wife with his third and current spouse, Calista, while she was a congressional aide in the 1990s -- an affair that occurred as Gingrich lambasted former President Clinton over his philandering with Monica Lewinsky.
While adultery certainly isn't a rare occurrence on Capitol Hill, Gingrich's efforts to ensure he would not take the blame for his lady-loving ways is unsurpassed. In 2007, Gingrich told Fox News' Chris Wallace that he was not a hypocrite for bashing Clinton while he was having his own extramarital affair because it apparently allowed him to realize the importance of honesty and legality. Moreover, earlier this year he actually justified an act he would normally say is sinful by saying he was driven to cheat because he worked far too hard, and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.
So Thou Shall Not Commit Adutery apparently doesn't apply if you have a busy work schedule.
2. He blames school shootings on liberalism.
In the wake of the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, Gingrich placed the blame of the tragedy on -- who else? -- liberals.
The elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite: I accuse you in Littleton... of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done, and instead foisting upon the rest of us pathetic banalities because you don't have the courage to look at the world you have created, Gingrich said, discussing the shootings.
While there is no factual information to support such a statement, in 2007 Gingrich told ABC's This Week that the sentiment also applied to the Virginia Tech shootings, possibly one of the most offensive ways a politician has tried to one-up their opposing party -- liberals made them kill their classmates!
Guns, of course, took none of the blame.
3. Said the victims of Hurricane Katrina brought on the tragedy by being uneducated and unprepared.
While speaking before the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2007, Gingrich said the residents of New Orleans' 9th Ward, which was devastated after Hurricane Katrina, for essentially not being smart enough to adequately prepare for the storm. His exact quote:
How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn't get out of the way of a hurricane.
Like other conservatives who pointed their fingers at the victims of the 9th Ward, many of whom could not afford to leave the city before the historical storm struck, Gingrich conveniently left out how the catastrophic flooding in the neighborhood occurred because of multiple severe levee breaks -- hardly something you can blame on uneducated poor people.
4. Suggested the government periodically allow terrorist attacks to occur to remind Americans of the threat of terrorism.
While he may have made he suggestion in a joking manner, Gingrich was answering an extremely serious question when he implied the Bush administration had been too successful at preventing terrorist attacks in the U.S. in the years following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
In 2008, while promoting his book Days of Infamy at a New York bookstore, an audience member asked Gingrich why there had been no terrorist attacks since 9/11. Gingrich, saying he would have expected another attack, praised the efficiency of the Bush administration at fighting the bad guys but then paradoxically said it was also one of the administration's great tragedies.
The more successful they have been at stopping the bad guys, the less proof there is that we're in danger, he said. It's almost like every once in a while they should have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.
Fear mongering, anyone?
5. Praised Singapore's law that mandates executions for drug posession
In the 1990's, Gingrich introduced a bill into the U.S. House of Representatives that would have made capital punishment a sentence for convicted drug smugglers. Nothing came of the bill, but during an interview with Yahoo News on Monday Gingrich reiterated that he believes death should be a punishment for drug cartel leaders.
He went on to praise Singapore success at making sure drugs do not enter the country, although he admitted their success is due to very Draconian laws.
In Singapore, Individuals over age 18 who are convicted of carrying more than 15 grams of heroin face mandatory execution by hanging. While severe, Gingrich insisted that such a method may be the only way to seriously prevent illegal drugs from entering the U.S.
If you're serious about the latter view, then we need to think through a strategy that makes it radically less likely that we're going to have drugs in this country. Places like Singapore have been the most successful at doing that. They've been very draconian. And they have communicated with great intention that they intend to stop drugs from coming into their country, he said.
Gingrich forgot to mention that strategy is no longer legal in the U.S. In 2008 the U.S Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Kennedy v. Louisiana that the death penalty cannot be expanded to apply to situations where a victims life was not taken.
Then again, Gingrich has also said that, as president, he would ignore the Supreme Court decisions he does not agree with if the legislative branches believe it to be seriously in constitutional error. So, under President Gingrich, it seems the war on drugs would be finally be a success -- or else.
Ashley covers U.S. politics for the International Business Times, with a focus on civil liberties, women's issues and campaign finance. Her work has also appeared in The...