Did Newt Gingrich feel even a tiny twinge of guilt when he was working so hard to impeach President Clinton over his affair with an intern while Gingrich himself was cheating on his wife with a congressional aide? No. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked the former House speaker and presidential candidate, "Isn’t that hypocrisy?" Gingrich countered that in 1998, he was taking a principled stand in defense of the deposition.
“Obviously, it’s complex and, obviously, I wasn’t doing things to be proud of. ... I had been in depositions. I had been in situations where you had to swear to tell the truth." Clinton, by contrast, had perjured himself by denying his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
It’s not about personal behavior... It’s not about what he did in the Oval Office. You can condemn that. You can say it’s totally inappropriate. But it was about a much deeper and more profound thing, which is: Does the president of the United States have to obey law?
But Wallace didn't let Gingrich get off easy, following-up: “I’m going to ask you man to man: Did you ever think to yourself, ‘I’m living in a really glass house. Maybe I shouldn’t be throwing stones?’" Gingrich said would have resigned if he thought he were unable to do his job. Wallace then aired a clip of Gingrich explaining his affairs in a way that implied he cheated on his wife because he loved his country so much. The Republican had had a decade to come up with a good response to the question, Wallace said, “and in all honesty there were a lot of people who thought the answer was kind of lame.”
Was it the comeuppance longtime Newt foes had been waiting for? Probably not. A Google search of "Newt Gingrich" and "comeuppance" yeilds 22,800 results, with headlines announcing his comeuppance nearly yearly in the 1990s, begining when the then-six term congressman nearly lost his reelection campaign in 1990. "What hurt Newt the most was himself--his own personality, his arrogance," a voter told The New York Times at the time. Gingrich needed a "comeuppance," the man said.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.