Sorry, Newt, GOP Debate Had to Begin With 'Open Marriage' Question (VIDEO)

newt gingrichLast night at CNN's GOP debate, Newt Gingrich was like an angry tiger being taunted from inside a cage. And you almost can't blame the other candidates -- Newt's numbers are up again, but we're at the point where candidates are dropping out, and the smell of blood has everyone clawing. CNN chose to pounce first in a big way: They took on the allegations that Newt had asked his then-wife Marianne for an open marriage.

Show-stopping pandering to the hungry masses? Yeah, definitely. It brings to mind that famous line from the movie Gladiator: "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?" Political debates always seem like gladiator spectacles where it's the performance that matters more than the substance -- not that it should be that way, but that's how it is. Still, I think CNN is justified in asking such a provocative question -- and Gingrich should be glad they opened with it.

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After all, it's the moderator's job to ask the questions the public wants answered. And whether it's "appropriate" or not (I've always found that word incredibly useless), WE WANT TO HEAR Gingrich respond to the allegations. It was the hottest political story leading into the debate. The network had to be responsible to the viewers, and to pretend that the open marriage allegations didn't exist or didn't matter would have just created a giant elephant in the room -- and I don't mean the Republican mascot.

As for folks who claim they don't want to hear Gingrich address the allegations, I suspect they're just putting their heads in the sand about the disturbing contradictions between what Gingrich preaches and how he has actually lived his life. 

In fact, Gingrich should be THANKING CNN for bringing it up early and getting it out of the way. It could have been worse! One of the candidates could have brought it up in a much less tactful way. CNN gave Gingrich the opportunity to address what was on everyone's mind and then move on to the issues he really wanted to talk about. They did him a favor.

Newt could have used the question as an opportunity to take control of the story and spin it to his benefit (something like "It's not true, but I've been a sinner and I've known redemption"). But all his blustering and "the liberal media is attacking me" mumbo jumbo just made him look defensive. When will Newt accept that candidates who stand for conservative family values but whose lives don't appear to reflect those values have a lot to answer for, no matter how personally painful? (OMG, what he did to Clinton while he was cheating on his own wife!!!) Such is life in public office in the 21st century. 

Do you think CNN was right to begin the debate with a question about the open marriage allegations?

 

Image via Don3rdSE/Flickr

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