Political Baggage: Establishment and Media Manipulation
By Frank Salvato
As the 2012 Election primary seasons begins to ratchet-up, we had all better get ready for a onslaught of talk about “political baggage.” Whether it’s Mitt Romney’s “Louis Vuitton baggage” of having hired illegal aliens to manicure his lawn or Rick Perry’s “Cabela baggage” of having not painted over a racial epitaph on a rock outside a family hunting lodge or the “Bebe baggage” leveled at Herman Cain in the form of as of yet unsubstantiated accusations of sexual misconduct against disgruntled, Democrat operative represented, former employees, the political baggage angle is one that has toppled solid political candidates in the past and, if left unaddressed, will topple solid Republican candidates in the 2012 election.
As with all political baggage, there is always some truth to the matter. Mitt Romney’s landscaping company did, in fact, break the law by hiring illegals to work on their crews. Gov. Romney, after warning the company that he could no longer employ their services should they continue the practice, terminated their services when it was found that they continued to employ illegals. And while it may have been true at one time that a rock outside of a family hunting lodge owned by Gov. Perry’s family did offer-up a racial insensitivity, the offending label was painted over years ago. And Mr. Cain? Well, to date no substantial evidence has surfaced but for a Gloria Allred represented repeat complaint filer’s word…you make that call.
The constant in each of these instances is a bloodthirsty media all too anxious to bring to trial in the court of public opinion those who possess an alternate political philosophy, regardless of fact or evidence. Today, unless you live in the squalid “utopia” that is an #Occupy encampment, it is universally recognized that but for a very few mainstream news media outlets the global community of journalists – and I use the word “journalist” for lack of a better term, although propagandist would be more appropriate – leans so far Left that they have to crane their necks just to see where Ché Guevara once stood. That acknowledged, these “journalists” target Conservatives, Libertarians, Constitutionalists and all others of a non-Progressive (read: neo-Marxist) bent. And one of their favorite tools is being able to define the “electability” of candidates.
Just like I continue to scratch my head over why the National Republican Party allows Blue States to influence the Republican primary field in the early goings, I am equally as perplexed as to why anyone voting in a Republican Primary Election would listen to anyone in the mainstream media regarding the “viability” or “electability” of a candidate, especially where the idea of “baggage” is concerned.
A perfect example of why we shouldn’t place any value in the judgment of those in the mainstream media – and I am talking about anyone with a show and include anyone who places the title “strategist” behind their name – where political viability is concerned comes in the form of Newt Gingrich’s media/pundit/strategist perceived “baggage.”
Speaker Gingrich’s baggage comes in the form of something all too common in the United States today: infidelity and divorce. The infidelity and divorce, in and of themselves, are not the baggage. If both were to be considered political liabilities tumbleweeds would be rolling down every street in Washington, DC, and the many State Capitols. No, Speaker Gingrich’s baggage comes in the form of a grossly inaccurate portrayal of the circumstances surrounding those events in his life, beginning with the media’s version of a singular visit with his ex-wife in a hospital so many years ago.
In the media version, Mr. Gingrich is an evil, contemptible man, as is illustrated by this piece of propaganda from Salon.com writer Joan Walsh:
“Gingrich is probably best known for serving his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery, so he could marry his mistress, whom he later divorced to marry a staffer. But he’s also probably the only politician, who when you’re asked ‘What’s the worst thing he’s done?’ has done a lot of things that rival leaving his cancer-stricken wife for his mistress.”
As Mr. Gingrich’s own daughter from that ill-fated marriage, Jackie Gingrich Cushman, testifies in a recent article:
“My mother, Jackie Battley Gingrich, is very much alive, and often spends time with my family.
“As for my parents’ divorce, I can remember when they told me. It was the spring of 1980. I was 13 years old, and we were about to leave Fairfax, Va., and drive to Carrollton, Ga., for the summer. My parents told my sister and me that they were getting a divorce as our family of four sat around the kitchen table of our ranch home. Soon afterward, my mom, sister and I got into our light-blue Chevrolet Impala and drove back to Carrollton.
“Later that summer, Mom went to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for surgery to remove a tumor. While she was there, Dad took my sister and me to see her. It is this visit that has turned into the infamous hospital visit about which many untruths have been told. I won’t repeat them. You can look them up online if you are interested in untruths. But here’s what happened:
“My mother and father were already in the process of getting a divorce, which she requested. Dad took my sister and me to the hospital to see our mother. She had undergone surgery the day before to remove a tumor. The tumor was benign.”
Two very different stories to say the least.
And while marital infidelity is a painful issue for spouses to confront, in many instances leading to divorce and the destruction of the family, inevitably it is an issue for spouses and, if one believes, their God. In Speaker Gingrich’s case, infidelity led to divorce; a divorce which both parties believed to be best for themselves and their children.
As for Speaker Gingrich’s moral burden to bear regarding this issue, he said of his past indiscretions in a March, 2011 interview:
“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate…When I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics…I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing them…[In the end I] felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness – not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness.”
Tawdry, perhaps even distasteful; certainly a lapse in ethical judgment. But where “political baggage” is concerned, these personal issues are pre-minor league compared to the threshold of acceptability established by the very mainstream media propagandists who condemn Speaker Gingrich for his transgressions.
In 1998 President Bill Clinton and a 22-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky engaged in a prolonged and deviant extra-marital affair that took place, primarily, in the Oval Office of the White House. The sexual encounters included the President taking calls from Congressman while receiving oral sex from Ms. Lewinski and an account of his inserting his cigar in Ms. Lewinsky’s vagina. Of the nine instances to which the offending parties admit took place, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton was present in the White House for at least some portion of five. The news of this extra-marital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 by the US House of Representatives.
And while President Clinton’s marital infidelities were morally egregious – and while they presented an insult to the American electorate in their having taken place in the Oval Office – the mainstream media chose to defend Mr. Clinton; to lionize him beyond reality, even as he lied to the courts, to Congress and to the American people about his infidelity; perjuring himself in the eyes of the law.
When one contrasts Speaker Gingrich’s “baggage” to that of former-President Clinton one must conclude that Mr. Gingrich’s, no matter how one feels about the morality of the issue, did not exist in violation of the law or the public trust, yet today the Obama Administration courts Mr. Clinton to campaign for President Obama’s re-election, while disingenuous media operatives, pundits and so-called “strategists” opine critically about Mr. Gingrich’s “baggage.”
In 1989, ABC News reported:
“Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, an acknowledged homosexual, today confirmed that his Washington apartment had been used as a callboy headquarters by a male prostitute for a year and a half until late 1987. Responding to a story in today’s Washington Times, Frank said he had hired the prostitute out of his own funds as a personal aide and fired him when he found out what was going on.”
And in 2009 –FOX News in Boston reported:
“Congressman Barney Frank was present during a marijuana arrest at James Ready’s home in Ogunquit, Maine. Ready is well-known for his relationship with Congressman Frank…According to a police report, police charged Ready with marijuana possession, cultivation and use of drug paraphernalia in August of 2007. Ready admitted to civil possession and paid a fine. The remaining charges were dismissed in 2008.”
Rep. Frank is quoted as saying of the marijuana cultivation, sale and usage by his boyfriend that he is, “not a great outdoorsman,” and “wouldn’t recognize most plants.”
Yet, Congressman Frank not only continues to serve in Congress – and in a senior leadership role, even being allowed to co-author the notorious Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill – he is treated as a champion of the Progressive Movement, if, for nothing else, being obstinate in his demand for special treatment for Liberal special interests and for his defense of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two institutions whose actions served as catalyst for the mortgage meltdown.
Again, when juxtaposing Speaker Gingrich’s “baggage” with that of Congressman Frank’s, one must conclude that, at the very least, Mr. Gingrich’s indiscretions affected his family – exclusively, and in a way that resulted in Mr. Gingrich admitting to and taking responsibility for his actions. By contrast, Mr. Frank, to this day, feigns ignorance to the two events; one that required the intervention of law enforcement and the other which should have; events so uncomplicatedly obvious that to believe that Mr. Frank was oblivious to both is be believe him a simpleton; a moron, or at the very least, vacuous. Yet today, Mr. Frank is sought out by the propagandist media, the Progressive punditry and – again – the so-called “strategists” as an elder statesman, while the same cadre of intellectually dishonest narcissists rail on about Mr. Gingrich’s perceived “baggage.”
On the night of July 18, 1969, Sen. Edward Kennedy, brother of Pres. John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, drove his car off a bridge and into a pond on Chappaquiddick Island on Martha’s Vineyard. Mr. Kennedy swam to safety leaving Mary Jo Kopechne, then 28, a campaign worker on his brother Robert’s presidential campaign, to drown; trapped in his submerged car.
According to eNotes.com, a comprehensive fact-checked, online educational resource:
“A fraction of a second before he reached the bridge, Kennedy applied his brakes; he then drove over the side of the bridge. The car plunged into tide-swept Poucha Pond and came to rest upside-down underwater. Kennedy later recalled that he was able to swim free of the vehicle, but Kopechne was not. Kennedy claimed at the inquest that he called Kopechne’s name several times from the shore, then tried to swim down to reach her seven or eight times, then rested on the bank for around fifteen minutes before returning on foot to Lawrence Cottage, where the party attended by Kopechne and other “Boiler Room Girls” had occurred. Kennedy denied seeing any house with a light on during his journey back to Lawrence Cottage.
“In addition to the working telephone at the Lawrence Cottage, according to one commentator, his route back to the cottage would have taken him past four houses from which he could have telephoned and summoned help; however, he did not do so. The first of those houses, referred to as “Dike House”, was 150 yards away from the bridge, and was occupied by Sylvia Malm and her family at the time of the incident. Malm later stated that she had left a light on at the residence when she retired for that evening.
“According to Kennedy’s testimony, [Senator Kennedy's cousin, Joseph] Gargan and party co-host Paul Markham then returned to the waterway with Kennedy to try to rescue Kopechne. Both of the other men also tried to dive into the water and rescue Kopechne multiple times. When their efforts to rescue Kopechne failed, Kennedy testified, Gargan and Markham drove with Kennedy to the ferry landing, both insisting multiple times that the accident had to be reported to the authorities…”
Her body was found inside the submerged car 10 hours later. Kennedy had not reported the accident at that time.
Again from eNotes.com:
“On July 25, seven days after the incident, Kennedy entered a plea of guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury. Kennedy’s attorneys suggested that any jail sentence should be suspended, and the prosecutors agreed to this, citing Kennedy’s age, character and prior reputation. Judge James Boyle sentenced Kennedy to two months’ incarceration, the statutory minimum for the offense, which he suspended.”
Senator Kennedy was re-elected the following year with 62 percent of the vote. Ms. Kopechne is still dead.
Couple this with myriad brushes with law enforcement where alcohol was involved – and a divorce – and any attempt to compare Speaker Gingrich’s marital issues with the deadly legacy left by Edward Kennedy would be laughable at best; contemptible in the least.
Yet today, according to The Daily Caller:
“…the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, [is a] structure set to cost taxpayers no more than $68 million, $38.3 million of which has already been appropriated for the project.
“The money for the project will not just come from the good people of the Bay State but also from taxpayers across the country…[S]ince 2009 the Kennedy Institute has received three rounds of major appropriations from the federal government.
“In the 2009 federal budget, $5,813,000 was appropriated to the project through the Labor Department and Department of Health & Human Services spending bill. In the 2010 budget, $13,600,000 was funneled through the from the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services and another $18,900,000 through the Defense Department spending bill.
“In April of , Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward Markey attempted to insert another $8 million more in the now defunct Omnibus bill.”
But, the media pundits and “political strategists” insist, Mr. Gingrich has baggage.
It should also be noted here, that the man that today’s Right – that Republicans and Conservatives – revere the most, President Ronald Reagan, he, too, was divorced and remarried.
“His political views and business with being an actor hurt his marriage greatly. Reagan and [Jane] Wyman spent less and less time together, and finally, the strain of work pressures and different interests split them apart, and Wyman filed for a divorce. While in court she testified, ‘In recent months my husband and I engaged in continual arguments on his political views…finally, there was nothing in common between us…nothing to sustain our marriage.’ On June 29, 1948, the court granted the divorce and awarded Wyman the custody of their daughter and son. The divorce left Reagan, who was thirty-seven, very stunned.
“Reagan remained fully involved with SAG. He still had many friends and dated many young starlets, but he was still unhappy. ‘My loneliness is not from being unloved, but rather from not loving,’ he remembered. And then he found Miss Nancy Davis. They dated for two years and then were married.”
There are many of you who might think that I am acting the apologist for Mr. Gingrich. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Infidelity is, in many cases, a heartbreaking event for one spouse or both. It is a betrayal of trust and illustrates a personal weakness in those who engage in it. And while there are many reasons given for personal infidelity, none compares to being honest enough to examine the reasons why one would be moved to infidelity, if for no other reason than to come to an understanding about whether or not a marriage is working.
In Mr. Gingrich’s case, he did come to address the issue with his then-wife, Jackie. They decided – mutually – to divorce. Where the clandestine act of infidelity gave way to honesty in divorce for the Gingrich’s, it took the glare of the media spotlights to extract honesty for the Clintons. As for Barney Frank and the late-Teddy Kennedy…well, honesty just isn’t – or wasn’t, as the case may be – their “bag.”
The fact of the matter is this. As sad as the state of our society is today where infidelity and divorce are concerned, they are more common than we are willing to admit. In fact, in Hollywood circles, infidelity is the catalyst for reality television and considered almost acceptable among the glitterati.
The point I am trying to make is this. In an age when the world is being enveloped in darkness – both ideologically and violently; when our country stands on the brink of deteriorating from a Constitutional Republic to a Socialist Democracy; when government has grown into such a behemoth that it is on the precipice of being the master to the very people who created it, We the People had better look beyond the imperfections of the personal man where “political viability” and “electability” are concerned.
Today, as we advance in the 2012 election cycle, We the People need the smartest man in the room at the helm of the Ship of State. We need someone who has humility enough to learn from past errors, correcting course when it is the best choice to make, leading our nation in this tumultuous time. We need someone who understands and respects the knowledge that only history can afford as we – as a nation; as the guardians of liberty – navigate the future.
What we cannot afford is to allow the narcissistic mainstream media talking heads, self-absorbed political pundits and the self-aggrandizing political strategists to talk us out of the smartest guy in the room simply because they believe his “baggage” is too heavy to carry.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org