It’s disturbing enough that the website AshleyMadison.com exists. It’s an online dating site — for married people looking to cheat on their spouses. The Ashley Madison motto? “Life is short. Have an affair.”
It’s even more disturbing that the site’s founder sees in Newt Gingrich’s recent rise a sign of the destigmatization of adultery — and has opted to give the former Speaker free publicity. In Pennsylvania, Ashley Madison posted a massive billboard that features a prominent picture of Gingrich with this text across it: “Faithful Republican … Unfaithful Husband. Welcome to the AshleyMadison.com era.”
From The Daily Caller:
“Now that Newt is the leading contender in the race for the GOP nomination, we felt compelled to make a point to illustrate how times have changed when a serial divorcee/adulterer is capturing the hearts of the American people,” site founder Noel Biderman said in a statement on Friday.
“Gingrich proves that marital fidelity has no bearing on someone’s ability to do a job,” Biderman continued. “Rather than judge him, Americans have finally embraced the reality that affairs are commonplace, and perhaps paradoxically, might be an indication of great leadership to come. He is not the first nor last politician who will step outside of their marriage.”
What’s frustrating is that Biderman is free to interpret Gingrich’s preeminence in the polls however he likes. I’d argue it’s certainly not because the former Speaker has had affairs — it’s been in spite of that. Biderman’s position tempts me to contort myself into an uncomfortable defensive posture, in which I take the Rick Perry line. But I don’t really want to do that. Yes, it makes sense that a person who would cheat on his spouse might also be liable to cheat on a business partner, as Perry has put it. But it also makes sense that mistakes in your personal life don’t necessarily mean you’ll perform poorly in your professional life. The oft-repeated maxim “We all make mistakes” also rings true here. The question then becomes: Do we take responsibility for them or do we seek to justify them? With Gingrich, it seems to be a little bit of both.
Anyway, to forgive or overlook someone’s failures is very different than to celebrate and glorify someone’s failures, as Ashley Madison has done. I would not wish to remove the consequences of poor decisions for anybody — and, perhaps, one of the consequences Gingrich will yet have to reap from his impetuous personal life is the loss of the 2012 GOP nomination. Perhaps not. Either way, it doesn’t change that — to put it in the most simplistic terms possible — adultery is wrong, and Gingrich himself thinks that.