To say that Gingrich has not always lived up to the ideals he professes does not diminish those ideals. When Thomas Jefferson wrote and delegates of the Continental Congress edited the Declaration of Independence, some of those assembled owned slaves. Did writing "all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" ring less true because of slavery? No, it simply set an ideal in place that nearly 90 years later Abraham Lincoln (and 100 years after that, Martin Luther King Jr.) would reference in successful efforts to force government to recognize the rights of African-Americans.
As America grows more secular, less religious and less married, appeals to "morality" will increasingly fall on deaf ears. Charles Murray wrote about this "new American divide" in last Saturday's Wall Street Journal.
Voters on one side of the divide -- the "traditionalists" -- are conflicted. They remind me of the film "It's Complicated" in which Meryl Streep has an affair with her remarried ex-husband (Alec Baldwin), while entertaining the amorous intentions of her architect (Steve Martin).
Social conservatives seem similarly conflicted in the Romney vs. Gingrich vs. Santorum contest. Two of the candidates have had just one wife and they are religious. And then there's Newt.
Conservative voters are being forced to make a pragmatic choice between their "traditional values" and who can best defeat President Obama. If Gingrich's convincing victory in the South Carolina primary is any indication, they appear to be making that choice.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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