One of the campaign trail stories blowing up in the media today is the supposed comment by Newt Gingrich to an Iowa man who described himself as a gay Democrat that he ought to vote for Obama.
Naturally, this is being reported by the media as a sign of Gingrich’s intolerance and gay-bashing, etc., and another example of the GOP’s hatred for gays in general.
That narrative aside, what actually happened in that exchange makes for an interesting discussion.
Here’s a transcript of the exchange…
Scott Arnold: My question is, how do you plan to engage such a large community of people, who, on this one specific issue, do not support you – may agree with you on the other parts of what you stand for – but how do you plan to engage and get the help of gay Americans and those who support them?
Speaker Gingrich: I think, for those for whom the only issue that really matters is the definition of marriage, I won’t get their support, and I accept that that’s a reality. On the other hand, for those for whom it’s not the central issue in their life, if they care about job creation, if they care about national security, if they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I’ll get their support.
Arnold: So what if it is the biggest issue?
Gingrich: Then I won’t get their support.
Arnold: Then how do we engage if you’re elected, then what, what does that mean
Gingrich: Then you engage in every topic except that. I mean –
Arnold: Except the one that’s the most important?
Gingrich: If that is the most important to you…
Arnold [interrupting]: — to many millions of people.
Gingrich: Well, if that’s the most important to you, then you should be for Obama.
Gingrich: I think that’s perfectly legitimate.
Arnold: I am, but thank you
Gingrich: Yeah, I think that’s perfectly legitimate. [Gingrich smiles and shakes Arnold’s hand.]
The Des Moines Register’s writeup on the exchange wasn’t exactly the best example of journalism in human history…
Newt Gingrich told a gay man and longtime resident of Oskaloosa here today that he should vote for President Obama.
Scott Arnold, an adjunct professor of writing at William Penn University, had approached Gingrich to ask him about how he plans to engage gay Americans given his stance on same-sex marriage.
“I asked him if he’s elected, how does he plan to engage gay Americans. How are we to support him? And he told me to support Obama.”
Gingrich told Arnold that he doesn’t expect to get the support of voters who disagree with him on the definition of marriage and who consider that a central issue.
Arnold, a Democrat, said he came to the event at Smokey Row coffee house with an open mind. But he wanted to ask Gingrich about how he would represent him as president after reading past comments the former U.S. House Speaker has made about gays and lesbians.
“When you ask somebody a question and you expect them to support all Americans and have everyone’s general interest, it’s a little bit frustrating and disheartening when you’re told to support the other side — that he doesn’t need your support,” Arnold said.
Gingrich has been married three times, two ending after his adultery.
Gingrich, who has a half sister who is a lesbian, has previously said in Iowa that same-sex marriage “is a temporary aberration that will dissipate.” In his letter to The Family Leader this month, he advocated a federal constitutional amendment that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples.
“It doesn’t inspire hope at all,” Arnold said of Gingrich’s statements. “And if that’s what he’s trying to do and that’s what he’s trying to say, that this is a collective effort if he’s elected president, yet he tells me to support the other side?”
A bit one-sided to be sure.
But Newt actually deserves some credit for his part of the dialogue. Most politicians would reflexively attempt to kiss the rear end of anybody with whom they’re engaged in retail politics, so when a political adversary like Arnold comes along and attempts to pigeonhole a Republican like Gingrich into giving ground on gay marriage it’s almost an imperative – at least, so the instinct goes – to try to be as diplomatic as possible.
Newt didn’t take that bait. Instead, he made a perfectly defensible and cogent appeal for the gay vote. In other words, people who see themselves as voters who happen to be gay and are interested in the same kinds of issues everybody else is interested in, like getting the economy going or solving the deficit or keeping the jihadists from blowing us all to smithereens, should consider him as a candidate with solutions they might find appealing. But for people who see themselves as gay voters, or put another way people who vote according to what their political masters in the gay lobby tell them to do based on a single-issue litmus test, not only is Gingrich not an appealing candidate but no Republican worth his or her salt is either. Why? Because conservative doctrine doesn’t favor the establishment of gay marriage and the gay lobby has married itself to the Left’s agenda.
It’s never been a good idea for Republicans to cede territory to the Left’s social experimentation schemes, most of which have been abject disasters in practice, and it’s particularly not a good idea to do so without getting substantial considerations in return.
That’s not what Arnold had to offer. He went to Gingrich demanding that he grovel for the support of special-interest gay Democrats, and he was rebuffed. Somehow this reflects Gingrich’s intolerance, which is asinine.
The fact is that gay marriage is not an issue upon which a presidential election needs to be decided in 2012. And voters who happen to be gay – rather than folks who see themselves as gay voters – recognize that. Whether Gingrich is the nominee or not, it’s important for the Republican candidate in this election to refuse attempts at bullying him into pandering to the latter as they demand.