December 21st, 2011
I don’t like being played for a fool. And that is exactly what happened when Jason Clayworth posted a commentary entitled, “Newt Gingrich to gay Iowan: Vote for Obama“.
At BTB we pride ourselves on our accuracy and on our unwillingness to run with “spin” as though it were news. And it turns out that the interchange between Scott Arnold and Newt Gingrich is significantly different than it is being reported.
Here is the full exchange:
Arnold: My question is how to 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 vote of gay Americans if you don’t support them?
Gingrich: I think that those for whom the only issue that 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, that they care about job creation, they care about national security, that they care about a better future for the country at large, then I think I’ll get their support.
Arnold: But what if it is the biggest issue?
Gingrich: Then I won’t get their support.
Arnold: How do we engage if you’re elected? Then what? What does that mean?
Gingrich: Then you engage on every topic except that.
Arnold: Except the one that’s most important?
Gingrich: If that the most important topic to you…
Arnold: (crosstalk but appears to be) to many many people
Gingrich: Well if that’s most important to you, then you should be for Obama. I think that’s a personal decision.
Arnold: Thank you.
Newt Gingrich gave the only answer that any candidate could give when presented with “I disagree with you on Issue X and Issue X is the most important issue to me.” There simply is no other answer than, “So don’t vote for me.”
But let’s be VERY CLEAR here. Newt Gingrich did NOT say that he “didn’t need” Arnold’s support. He did NOT tell gay Iowans to vote for Obama. Rather Gingrich suggested that if marriage is not the central issue in their life that they consider other issues on which agreement might be found.
I do consider other issues. I care about job creation. And I care about national security. And I very much care about a better future for the country at large.
However, I am not at this point convinced that Newt Gingrich will dramatically increase job creation or, for that matter, that “creating jobs” is somehow either the role of president or even a possibility for a president outside of massive governmental hiring. And I know increasing the size of government is not what I believe will lead to long term prosperity.
As for national security issues, I think that the President has been far far better on these issues than I ever expected. Mrs. Clinton was an ideal selection for Secretary of State, and I suspect that on the issue of foreign relations and national security that Mr. Obama has been a bit of a disappointment to some of my more liberal friends.
So that brings me to “a better future for the country at large”. It is my firmly held belief that a country which honors its citizens and protects the rights and equality of all citizens – especially those who are least liked by those in power – promises a better future than one which denies equality based on religious or other personal biases.
So I see nothing in Newt’s answer that would entice anyone to select him over any of the other Republican choices or over President Obama. And while marriage equality is not necessarily the most important issue (if it were, our community would be re-registering Republican to vote for either Fred Karger or Gary Johnson, the only presidential candidates who fully support marriage), as a gay man I cannot ignore the attitudes that will influence and direct a whole host of issues that impact me and my community. And on gay issue – past, current, and in any conceivable possible future – Newt Gingrich has shown himself to be a man who scoffs at the promises of the US Constitution and who is inclined to think that his personal church choices should override our nation’s underlying ideals.
Taken as a whole, Newt Gingrich is simply not an acceptable candidate and I cannot fathom a likely scenario in which I would vote for him for President in either a primary or general election.
But I greatly resent those who mischaracterize the exchange and lie to me about what Gingrich said. And it’s pointless as well. I’m not a fool, I can make intelligent decisions based on real statements. Gingrich’s positions are bad enough, you don’t have to make up bullsh!t and try to get me to buy into it.
Very very not classy.
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