Richard Land to Newt Gingrich: Strike a pose

Richard Land to Newt Gingrich: Strike a pose November 29, 2011

Richard Land has published an open letter trying to convince Newt Gingrich to give a “Checkers speech” on his checkered marital history.

The Southern Baptist ethics czar urges Gingrich to:

… pick a pro-family venue and give a speech (not an interview) addressing your martial history once and for all. It should be clear that this speech will be “it” and will not be repeated, only referenced.

As you prepare that speech, you should picture in your mind a 40-something Evangelical married woman whose 40-something sister just had her heart broken by an Evangelical husband who has just filed for divorce, having previously promised in church, before God, his wife and “these assembled witnesses” to “love, honor and cherish until death us do part.”

Focus on her as if she were your only audience. You understand people vote for president differently than they do any other office. It is often more of a courtship than a job interview. I know something of your faith journey over the past 20 years. Do not hesitate to weave that into your speech to the degree that you are comfortable doing so. It will always resonate with Evangelical Christians.

You need to make it as clear as you possibly can that you deeply regret your past actions and that you do understand the anguish and suffering they caused others including your former spouses. Make it as clear as you can that you have apologized for the hurt your actions caused and that you have learned from your past misdeeds. Express your love for, and loyalty to, your wife and your commitment to your marriage. Promise your fellow Americans that if they are generous enough to trust you with the presidency, you will not let them down and that there will be no moral scandals in a Gingrich White House.

This is a baldly cynical piece of correspondence between two baldly cynical men. Throughout his letter, Land advises Gingrich to give this speech for one and only one reason: to win over evangelical voters.

Land doesn’t argue that Gingrich needs to apologize or to repent, only that if he wants to win the election, then he must be perceived as apologizing. Land appeals to Gingrich on the basis of their shared faith — a religion in which repentance doesn’t matter, but in which striking a public pose of contrition is sometimes necessary in order to consolidate power.

Land’s line of argument is truly disgusting. Gingrich will probably find it persuasive.

The Christian Post seems to have accidentally omitted the final three words of Richard Land’s letter:

Such a speech would not convince everyone to vote for you, but it might surprise you how many Evangelicals, immersed in a spiritual tradition of confession, redemption, forgiveness and second and third chances, might.

Your fellow American, Richard Land

Let me fix that:

Such a speech would not convince everyone to vote for you, but it might surprise you how many Evangelicals, immersed in a spiritual tradition of confession, redemption, forgiveness and second and third chances, might fall for it.

Your fellow American, Richard Land


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  • ako

    Let’s say your jerks really are jerks.  Are you really convinced that being denied sex, specifically, would lead to them becoming better people, instead of simply resenting women for not sleeping with them?  Because I’ve seen the MRA forums, and there are plenty of jerks who can’t get a woman to touch them with a ten-foot pole, and they don’t become better people because of it.  I’m not convinced that “Jerks who would become nice people if denied sex” is such a huge contingent, particularly when you factor in the other social rewards for professional jerks like Gingrich (such as attention, money, and power). 

    Probably, there are some jerks who would act nicer to get sex, even if it’s only a small percentage.  Here’s the problem with your proposed solution – women are not a collective.  We aren’t one homogenous club of conventionally-attractive heterosexuals who collaborate on who to sleep with.  We are not the Borg, really.  I can go around refusing to sleep with jerks all I want, and most of them will simply respond “As if I’d ever want you, fatty!” and carry on being jerks.*  (Plus, I’m a lesbian, so rewarding men for niceness with sex would be genuinely unpleasant for me, and if I’m not sleeping with any man, it rather dilutes the message of refusing to sleep with Newt Gingrich.)  “Women shouldn’t sleep with jerks” is every bit as impractical as “Men shouldn’t be jerks”, features the same  over-generalization (quite a lot of men are not jerks, and quite a lot of women don’t sleep with jerks), and has the added downside on focusing on a factor that might possibly contribute to the problem indirectly, instead of dealing with the actual cause.

    Maybe you mean “The specific beautiful, intelligent, progressive women I am thinking of should stop sleeping with jerks.”  In that case, you should stop generalizing about women and make it about “These particular friends of mine.”  Also, if you’re concerned about controlling the jerks, than either hold the jerk responsible or attempt to control them yourself, rather than blaming women for failing at the task you have arbitrarily assigned our gender.

  • Hawker40

    While I’m sure Mrs. Gingrich is in a committed monogamous relationship, I wouldn’t bet that Newt is.

  • Rikalous

    Find any picture of Newt where he’s smiling: that is the smile of someone who has just eaten a plump, juicy newborn.

    …How do are you so familiar with eating plump, juicy newborns, and the expressions the result?

  • Anonymous

    While feminism and some psychological views may maintain that the sexes are identical except for a few physical differences, males and females are in fact different from one another in every cell of their bodies, because they have a different chromosomal pattern.

    Whaa… what?  By this logic, every person is a different species, because they have different genes.  This is… what?

    On the other discussion, maybe jerks are more easily manipulated?

  • I have plenty of experience with unwilling celibacy, and I know it can
    suck.  And sadly, I don’t have a great answer.  But it’s not going to be
    fixed by holding women collectively responsible for the bad behavior of
    certain men.

    *points* Agreed, and well said!

  • WingedBeast

    “How does he get any support at all?”

    The Christian Right doesn’t seek out or vote for paragons of virtue.  They seek out and vote for mirrors.  Whatever else Newt does, he mirrors the conservative tendancy to point out the motes in the eyes of others regardless of the log jams in his own.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I don’t know any jerks who have trouble attracting women.

    I do.

    I wonder if men and women have different perceptions of whether someone is a jerk?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    The problem contiues to be that jerks get laid when they want and, no doubt with many exceptions, by whom they want. I would welcome evidence to the contrary.     

    Yeah, I’m still going to disagree with you there and insist that the problem is that jerks are jerks. I couldn’t care less if someone has consensual sex with them.

  • Izzy

    Take it to your therapist, buddy.

    If you’re not paying me a hundred bucks an hour, I’m not giving a damn about how BOO HOO GIRLS DON’T LIKE YOU.

  • Izzy

    Right, this.

    I’ll start caring if a friend of mine starts dating said jerk, a little, both because I’ll get concerned and because ugh, now I can’t invite her to a damn party without also getting a jumbo-size side order of That Guy, but such is life.

  • The problem contiues to be that jerks get laid when they want and, no doubt with many exceptions, by whom they want. I would welcome evidence to the contrary.

    You’re being a jerk.  You’re not getting laid when you want.

    Evidence to the contrary provided.

  • Hawker40

    I will confess that in High School and College, I was a “Nice Guy”.  I don’t think I was a jerk about it, but I will say that I didn’t understand why being a nice guy was not enough to get dates.  In the decades since then, I have learned…
    1. Being a nice guy is the start, not the end, of the process.
    2. Hygiene is important, even critical.
    3. Appearence matters.  Not the things you can’t change (hair color, skin tone, shape of nose) but the things you can: hair style and length, condition/cleanliness of clothing, neatness of facial hair.
    4. To get a date, you have to *ask*.
    5. Location, location, location.  Young ladies do not go to the supermarket to pick up guys, hitting on a lady you just met in the express lane doesn’t work.  That isn’t to say you can’t meet a lady in a supermarket, and eventually date her, but circumstances matter.
    Thats off the top of my head, and probably poorly phrased.
    I went from being dateless to having some success after I joined the Navy, not because I was in the military, but because the military enforced standards on me that matched items 2 and 3, and taught me about 4 and 5.

  • I will point out that there are in fact some women who are attracted to jerks.  

    One young woman I had a brief thing with told me that she was attracted to guys who acted like assholes to other people, but really sweet to her, because it made her feel special.  Though I did not say it to her face, I felt like she was just setting herself up to get hurt with that kind of attitude.  Another female friend of mine admitted to feeling turned on to some anonymous guy on the internet who left insulting comments directed at me on my blog, precisely because he was being a jerk.  

    Fortunately, my observation is that such attraction is often a maturity thing.  Only a few women are so attracted, and most of them eventually grow out of it after enough bad experiences leaves them burned out on assholes.  The few who do not grow out of it… well, things often get pretty unpleasant for them, sadly.  

    That said, I do try to be “nice” but I do not feel like that entitles me to any sort of sex.  However, I do take umbrage with the jerks who think that they get such an entitlement.  That is actually a big part of why they are jerks.  

  • Jay

    If an apology must be made, why should Newt be the only one to apologize to evangelical women voters? Newt lived and slept with his present wife Callista while he was still married to his second wife Marianne. (NY Daily News – Aug 12, 1999). Was this adulterous cohabitation non-consensual?

    More likely, Callista knowingly engaged in a sexual affair with another woman’s husband; she consciously facilitated the destruction of another couples’ marriage. And now she would be our First Lady? How do evangelical wives, mothers and voters feel about that?!

    Why don’t Newt and Callista both apologize to Marianne, before they apologize to any “Christian conservative” interest group.

    If the social conservative movement gets behind a man like Newt Gingrich, social conservatism is done for.

    Any authentic social conservative ought to agree with Newt’s ex-wife Marianne, “I don’t want him to be president and I don’t think he should be” (Vanity Fair – Sep 1995).

  • Bobglob

    So, men are never attracted to jerks?

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Points well taken.

  • Newt’s been their man since he was speaker, even if they subsequently had to hide him for a bit because every worthwhile human being had realized what a monster he was and cast him out into the cold. Hence, his amazing return to politics. He’s never going to win, but conservatives just can’t seem to quit him. He’s such a perfect man to represent their true values and true honor.

  • Jay

    It appears that way. Newt is an experienced adulterer, and he loves big government, endless war and torture. It is sad to see what “conservatism” has become.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    I will still submit that none of the few jerks I have known personally over the years has had trouble attracting women. I cannot think of any famous jerks who have had trouble either. As to whether I am an exception, I will defer to the opinions of my friends.
    (I’m sure I’m a jerk at least 15% of the time)
    The Lysystrata stategy apparently helped end the Liberian civil war. (BBC interview with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf). A similar strategy coupled with a larger effort to not richly reward jerklike behaviour would probably do a lot to fix what is wrong with our society.

  • The reason why “jerks get girls” is, as I understand it, purely statistical, anyway.

    Since they likely tend to approach women more readily than, say, a less socially gregarious type might, then odds are on that one woman will eventually respond to the jerk’s strategy.

    There’s nothing magic about that. Given any finite nonzero probability of occurrence of something, it’s like rolling a die with 1/probability number of sides, provided that one event doesn’t influence the next (a reasonably good approximation in a club or bar or other social scene with little chance for people rejecting the jerk to communicate this to others – think of it as being like a more complicated coin toss).

    Well, roll the die enough times, the number’ll come up.

    So I wouldn’t waste time or energy fuming over jerks, or otherwise falling into the trap of Nice Guy behavior. Not when there are other factors that would work in your favor provided you shifted your outlook.

  • Hawker40

    Another reason “jerks get girls” has to do with false fronts.  They act one way with thier buddies, bragging about thier conquests (and being jerks to the nice guys who aren’t getting anywhere) while acting a different way with 1. girls they want to get with 2. girls they are getting with and 3. girls they’ve dumped.  With increasing jerkiness the higher the number.