OK. As you may have noticed, I've pretty much given up on my blog to focus on running marathons every day behind my fifteen-month-old son while nursing the bruised rib I got from my 7-year-old daughter, Kira. BUT, as some very famous Americans have said "these are the times that try men's souls" and "there comes a time when one must take a position" and so on. Which is to say: a recent event has forced me back to the mighty (if metaphorical) pen...of my keyboard.
It happened yesterday. I mean, it started a week ago, when South Carolina primary results left me feeling sort of dirty and slimy inside. But it happened yesterday, when, shortly after dinner, my wife made reference to some week-old coverage of the South Carolina debate, and I found myself trying to explain to Kira who Newt Gingrich is--and why her parents think his recent success with the public is, well..."close to despicable."
It's uncomfortable to talk about Gingrich in the presence of a child, let alone with a child, but I did the best I could. I kept brief my explanation of his failed relationship with the 7th commandment--the one about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend while you're married--mentioning only that he hadn't kept it and didn't think people should be bothered by that in his case. Then I explained that he isn't very honest, which is a commandment Kira understands in a more immediate, day-to-day way. But to me, those problems don't adequately capture the man's continuing contribution to America's moral decline. So I attempted to describe his political style in a way she could understand by explaining that Newt Gingrich also does not believe in speaking kindly to others, that he actually likes to be rude.
Kira was startled by this. Being rude in the heat of the moment she understood, but liking to be rude? Didn't being rude make people feel sad in their stomachs after they realized what they'd done? Nicole stepped in here to explain that if Newt Gingrich feels sorry, he doesn't show it because, "honey... he's kind of a bully. And that's just how bullies act."
This cleared things up for Kira immediately. She brightened. "He would not be allowed in my class, then. We have a sign that says 'No Bullies.'"
Nicole and I laughed. That's true, we said: Newt Gingrich would have some trouble in second grade. He could come to the class--you don't want to throw anybody out--but if they were going to be fair, he would probably have to go talk to the principal about how to keep the school rules. We told her we were glad she didn't plan on becoming a bully. And then we brushed teeth and said prayers and tucked her happily into bed.
Serious worries, though, returned--as they often do--after the kids' bedtime. I mean, we'd already talked about the outside possibility that Newt Gingrich might actually become the nation's next President. We'd worried, of course, about many of his political views. Beyond policy, we'd also thought to worry about how his AM radio approach to diplomacy might go over internationally, and about how his erratic personality and delusions of grandeur might show us how much weight a President really can legally throw around these days. Heck, we'd even thought to worry about the sheer number of hotel workers worldwide a President Gingrich might pull a Kobe Bryant or Dominique Strauss-Kahn on.
But we hadn't remembered until last night that the President always, always make symbolic visits to elementary schools.
Schools where he's said that poor students should be scrubbing toilets to teach them work ethic.
Schools where he may or may not be eying teachers to join his possibly "open" current marriage.
Schools, most importantly, whose rules he never did learn to keep.
Please, America. Don't do this. Vote for a liberal, vote for another conservative, vote for the bizarre mixture of the two that is Ron Paul. But no matter what your political views are, please don't vote for Newt Gingrich.
You see: the children are watching. And even in this age of mass media and murky moral standards, there is at least one thing--who happens to be a current presidential candidate--our children still can and should be protected from.
Explanation, Justification, Sanctification - My daughter, Kira, is 10 years old. That is old enough to engage with fairly sophisticated ideas and young enough to to still care what your parents think ...
4 days ago