Like many evangelicals in Iowa, Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host, is wrestling with the possibility that Newt Gingrich may be the most viable standard bearer for family-values voters in the next election. It’s a conundrum, he says, that many others are also grappling with. “Maybe the guy in the race that would make the best president is on his third marriage,” he says. “How do we reconcile that?”
“Under normal circumstances, Gingrich would have some real problems with the social-conservative community,” says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. “But these aren’t normal circumstances.”
Gingrich benefits, of course, from the powerful Christian narrative of sin and deliverance. “These voters believe in forgiveness, they believe in redemption,” says Ralph Reed, who leads the Faith and Freedom Coalition. After all, as he points out, it was evangelicals who helped elect Ronald Reagan, our first and only divorced president.
Put another way, evangelicals would rather have a liar and a hypocrite and has been married three times than a Mormon. And if anyone seriously believes Gingrich has repented, I’ve got a beautiful orange bridge in San Francisco to sell you.
I suppose another possibility is that the Romney-hating evangelicals might instead believe that dishonesty, hypocrisy, and misogyny actually are family values.
Or maybe the Reed/Perkins style of evangelical believes that he can behave however horribly he wants from Monday through Saturday so long as he pretends to ask God for forgiveness on Sunday. In my opinion, a God who was so fickle to actually grant forgiveness to a human being this rotten (evangelical or not) is unworthy of worship, but that’s just me.